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Julian Martinez, Eagle Dance

Two Native Americans dancing in eagle costumes

Julian Martinez
Although Julian Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo) created many paintings on paper, he is best known for his collaborations with his wife, the potter Maria Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo). Maria formed and polished the elegant vessels and Julian applied the painted decoration. Although they occasionally created vessels with colored designs, the couple gained an international reputation for their wok with matte black decorations on polished black surfaces.

In part, the national popularity of their pottery can be attributed to the ease with which the smooth, geometric shapes matched the art deco style of design of the 1930s and 1940s, or as Maria simply put it: ​“Black goes with everything.” Julian painted the small Bowl (see illustration, page 2), which was formed by Maria with the Avanyu or horned serpent that also appears in his watercolor painting of Avanyu.
Eagle Dance, c.1930
Mixed media on watercolor paper
16 × 20 in. (40.6 × 50.8 cm)
Gift of the Robert M. Ellis and Caroline D. Lee Revocable Trust