What is Yua?

Yua is a Yup’ik word that represents the spiritual interconnectedness of all living things and is essential to maintaining balance and order in the Arctic way of life. It relates to popular notions of reincarnation. The Yup’ik are Native Alaskans, and their name translates to “the Real People.”

October 29, 2018 – February 3, 2019

Yua: Henri Matisse and the Inner Arctic Spirit explores the surprising and little-known story of how Inuit people and culture inspired one of the 20th century’s most influential artists, Henri Matisse. Included in the exhibition are works by Matisse that have not been publicly shown in the United States, and reunited dozens of stunning Yup’ik (Native Alaskan) mask sets that have been separated for more than a century.

Yua: Henri Matisse and the Inner Arctic Spirit features original artwork by Henri Matisse, Yup’ik masks, cultural objects, photographs, film, and ephemera, and explores the shared creative impulses that transcend time and culture by examining the unexpected connection between the Great Master and the people of the Arctic.

Matisse is celebrated for his sensuous approach to color and composition. Largely unknown to the general public, however, are his striking black-and-white portraits of Inuit people that were inspired, in part, by a group of Yup’ik (Native Alaskan) masks collected by his son-in-law Georges Duthuit.

The Heard Museum will be the only venue to see these original works of art.

Above: Henri Matisse, White Mask on Black Background (Masque blanc sur fond noir) ©2018 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York