A wooden mask with rods hanging from it.

Past Exhibition

Yua: Henri Matisse and the Inner Arctic Spirit

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 (Alaskan Natives) 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’ikmasks, 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 (Alaskan Natives) masks collected by his son-in-law Georges Duthuit.

This exhibition was exclusively created for the Heard Museum.

Special thanks to Riester Advertising for producing this video.

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 Alaskan Natives, and their name translates to “the Real People.”

Gallery Views

  • A museum gallery entrance hall with a big yellow painting and two paintings on the adjacent.
    Entrance to “Yua: Henri Matisse and the Inner Arctic Spirit.”
  • A gallery view of Yua Henri Matisse exhibition with white walls.
    Over 7,000 sq. ft. of original works by Matisse and Native Alaskan carvers.
  • A museum gallery with several framed drawings on the walls.
    Only in Phoenix through Feb. 3.
  • A museum gallery with black and white pictures on display.
  • A gallery with objects on display in glass cases in the wall.