Pieces from St. Thomas' Asmat art Collection Featured in "The Art Museum"

What do Leonardo da Vinci, Andy Warhol, and Albertus Kep have in common? They are all artists included in a monumental publication, The Art Museum.

Julie Risser

Julie Risser compared holding the 17-pound book "The Art Museum" to holding a toddler.

While da Vinci and Warhol are names many people know, Kep, an Asmat carver who is remembered for his balanced and lyrical carvings, is a new name on the international art scene. One of his openwork carvings along with two other pieces from the American Museum of Asmat Art at the University of St. Thomas provide insight into the rich carving traditions from Asmat.

The Art Museum offers readers access to particularly high quality works. "While electronic devices are being used more and more to access fine art, nothing beats a printed volume with high quality images," notes Julie Risser, director of the museum who wrote the sections on African and Pacific art. Risser is particularly pleased with the volume because it provides many more examples of Asmat art than those found in other art surveys.

While the "bisj" or ancestor poles are most frequently associated with Asmat culture, they are only found in specific regions of Asmat. Risser points out that ancestor figures, drums, masks, panels, as well as openwork carving are also significant forms. "Being able to include these works in a publication that is targeted to a broad audience helps to expand awareness of Asmat culture significantly," she said.

In addition to being available online, the book is available in Barnes and Noble stores. But be careful getting it off the shelf – it weighs approximately eight kilos (17.6 pounds).