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96 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best "academic" book on PNWC Artwork details
This book is a classic, and is invaluable for the serious student of Pacific Northwest Coast artwork. Note, however, that I emphasize the word "serious." If you are more of a beginner or casual observer, this book should be third on your list behind "Looking at Indian Art of the Northwest Coast" by Hilary Stewart and "Learning by Designing Pacific...
Published on February 26, 2003 by Pooh Guy

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3.0 out of 5 stars This doesn't seem like a big deal
This book would be 4-5 stars, but all of the figures are in black and white. This doesn't seem like a big deal, until you consider that it's a technical discussion of various aspects of the art. The section on color may well have not been included because of this point. It does no good for the author to discuss reds and blue-greens when the reader is unable to follow and...
Published 4 months ago by K Spears


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96 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best "academic" book on PNWC Artwork details, February 26, 2003
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This review is from: Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form (Native Art of the Pacific Northwest: A Bill Holm Center) (Paperback)
This book is a classic, and is invaluable for the serious student of Pacific Northwest Coast artwork. Note, however, that I emphasize the word "serious." If you are more of a beginner or casual observer, this book should be third on your list behind "Looking at Indian Art of the Northwest Coast" by Hilary Stewart and "Learning by Designing Pacific Northwest Coast Native Art, Vol. 1" by Gilbert and Clark.
Although the book is easy to read and very well written, it has a decidely academic tone to it. Mr. Holm studied large numbers of authentic examples, and draws conclusions about patterns.
For example, he points out that an ovoid within another ovoid (an "inner ovoid") is always placed either vertically centered OR closer to the top than the bottom. If it is placed closer to what appears to be the bottom, then it is because the artist is telling us that that particular part of the artwork is actually upside down.
He then backs this up with data based on his researches. In other words, he "reverse engineered" the unwritten rules of how to do this type of artwork.
But his focus is on details and small parts, not on the larger picture of how these elements are used by an artist to convey a message or depict something. There is almost no information on the myths and legends that the artwork is based on, nor on ways to discern between the various animals.
Note that I do NOT say this as a criticism -- it is not a bad thing that the book does not contain such info! Plenty of other books do. This book has a specific purpose, which is to analyze the elements of the artform, and this book is unquestionably the best one on that topic. In fact, it is the ONLY one that goes into this level of detail.
If you want to know why the Raven is often depicted with the Sun in his beak, this book is not for you. If you want to look at a drawing or totem pole and know which is a beaver and which is a bear, this book won't be much help. But if you want to know how and when and why to use blue as a tertiary color, or how wide a black formline should be at the top versus the bottom, this book is the one you want.
If you can only buy one or two books on this artform (or even if you can buy more), start with the two I listed above. Then buy this one. It is a great book and worth buying, and once you have an understanding of the bigger picture, the undertsanding of the details provided by Holm is truly fascinating.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must buy for the serious artist or historian, July 7, 1999
By A Customer
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This review is from: Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form (Native Art of the Pacific Northwest: A Bill Holm Center) (Paperback)
For anyone who wants to make a serious study of the Coastal Indian Art. The author conducted the first and probably the only scientific study of the forms used in coastal carving. Well illustrated and covering the full range of Coastal Indian artifacts he provides a technical explaination of the formline and how it was modified. For the artist he discusses the ovid form providing templates and the rules that were followed in design. He also covers color and the rules followed in its use. This is the only source of information I have found that addresses itself to form. For a serious artist who desires to carve in this Coastal Indian style this text in an invaluable tool. Available in paperback it is sturdy enough to be used in the studio and used it will be!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent first choice for the serious student, December 10, 2004
This review is from: Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form (Native Art of the Pacific Northwest: A Bill Holm Center) (Paperback)
This book is simply the best resource for learning this art form. It does not describe the cultural roots of the art in any great detail, but if you want to really learn how to construct NW coast designs on your own, while staying within the tradition, this is your best choice. What I liked best about it was that it manages to be a scholarly and artistic, and the "analysis of form" both records the past and inspires the future. As others reviewers have stated, this is a book for the serious student, but even less serious ones will get more out of here than they will from the "Learning by Designing" series.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic plus, March 31, 2001
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This review is from: Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form (Native Art of the Pacific Northwest: A Bill Holm Center) (Paperback)
If you are into authentic re NW American Indians, this ought to be your first choice. I've been in several museums in the NW and am most excited with the capturing of the art and spirit of the art and background. I am also a wood worker, soon to retire, and this book will let me afford true history I could not affort any other way.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The premier book on understanding NW Indian art., November 2, 1998
By 
Elna Tymes (Mountain View, California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form (Native Art of the Pacific Northwest: A Bill Holm Center) (Paperback)
This is the book that started it all. Bill Holm, while not a native, wrote a Master's thesis on the forms and functions he saw in the art of tribes from the Northwest Coast (from Neah Bay at the tip of Washington state up through Haines in SE Alaska). With the understanding of these stylized forms finally in print, both native and non-native artists came to see how Raven, Eagle, Bear, and other totem images could be portrayed and interwoven.
This book is fundamental to understanding NW Indian art.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars *The* book about NW Coast Art, December 1, 1998
By 
Bruce Hallman (Pacifica, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form (Native Art of the Pacific Northwest: A Bill Holm Center) (Paperback)
In the 20th Century, Bill Holm is the greatest contributor to the understanding of the wonderful art of the NW Coast. This book is the first modern explanation, even perhaps the first modern understanding, of the classic "northern form" I.E. the more formal and stylistic Haida / Tlingit / Tshimshian types NW Coast Indian art. A must read for those curious about this monumental American art form.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for artists, March 11, 2014
By 
Lady (AUSTIN, TX, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form (Native Art of the Pacific Northwest: A Bill Holm Center) (Paperback)
I am an artist that has always loved using rhythmic patterns in my work, which is why I bought this book. This book is full of inspiration.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Northwest Coast Indian Art - An Analysis of Form, January 17, 2008
By 
Gerald Johnson (Kennewick, WA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form (Native Art of the Pacific Northwest: A Bill Holm Center) (Paperback)
This is the "bible" on the principles of all of the forms used in Northwest Coast art. The forms are well documented and illustrated. This is an excellent book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interested in NW Coast Art? Buy this book!, December 18, 2000
By 
Myron Smith (Greeley, CO USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form (Native Art of the Pacific Northwest: A Bill Holm Center) (Paperback)
I picked this book up because I thought it looked interesting. Prior to reading this book, I essentially knew nothing about NW coast indian art. I read this in an afternoon and thought it was tremendous. I have read it twice more since. It won't make you an expert on NW coast indian art, but it is a great starting point explaining what to look for, details of the style, and gives lots of examples to illustrate his explanations. It gives enough background and pictures of pieces to spark an interest and give the reader a great start on looking in detail at this beautiful stylistic Indian art form.
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3.0 out of 5 stars This doesn't seem like a big deal, July 11, 2014
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This review is from: Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form (Native Art of the Pacific Northwest: A Bill Holm Center) (Paperback)
This book would be 4-5 stars, but all of the figures are in black and white. This doesn't seem like a big deal, until you consider that it's a technical discussion of various aspects of the art. The section on color may well have not been included because of this point. It does no good for the author to discuss reds and blue-greens when the reader is unable to follow and visualize based on the black and white figures. I'm really disappointed that the author, the editor, and the publishing house allowed the book to be released without including color figures. It made what should have been an excellent book, only a so-so one.
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