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May, 2 2011

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Yes, that Roosevelt, or that family, anyway. In 1939, 19-year-old Quentin Roosevelt, grandson of Teddy Roosevelt, journeyed to the remote border region between China and Tibet in search of the ancient Naxi [Nah-shee] culture. In ten days there, he assembled an impressive collection of Naxi art, which goes on view this month at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York. "Quentin Roosevelt’s China: Ancestral Realms of the Naxi," May 13-Sept. 19, 2011, features almost 150 works by the Naxi people, one of the 56 national groups in China, who are distinguished by the freeform pictographic script used by artist-priests in the highly complex rituals of their Dongba religion.

The exhibition is organized by guest curator Cindy Ho, who researched and reconstructed the Roosevelt collection with ethnohistorian Christine Mathieu, in collaboration with Rubin Museum chief curator Martin Brauen. In addition to the Roosevelt material, the show also includes the collection of botanist-explorer Joseph Rock, whose holdings have also never been publicly displayed. The show is accompanied by a 200-page catalogue, as well as the first U.S. conference on the Naxi culture and religion, May 14-15, 2011.

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