International Journal of Anthropology

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 219–230 | Cite as

High art as tourist art, tourist art as high art: Comparing the New Guinea Sculpture Garden at Stanford University and Sepik River tourist art

  • Silverman Eric K. 


This paper compares two contemporary aesthetic expressions: tourist art from the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea and the New Guinea Sculpture Garden at Stanford University. Both aesthetic expressions undermine the conventional categories that classify art. Sepik River tourist art is motivated not by the drive to lend individual, subjective experience a material expression but by monetary desire. The New Guinea Sculpture Garden was expressly created so that Sepik artisans could expand beyond the confines of village traditions and create unfettered aesthetic expressions. But seemingly inauthentic Tourist Art actually represents many of the ideals normally ascribed to Western masterpieces, or High Art. Conversely, the High Art of the Sculpture Garden in many respects resembles inauthentic reproductions and the tenacity of traditional forms. Both tourist art and the sculpture Garden, however, have one key quality in common: they rupture conventional artistic cattegories.


tourism art Sepik River New Guinea Sculpture Garden 


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Copyright information

© International Institute for the Study of Man 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silverman Eric K. 
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology/AnthropologyDePauw UniversityGreencastleU.S.A.

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