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Arnold Rubin Papers, 1845-1989 (bulk 1964-1989)
A1  
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Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Arnold Rubin Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1845-1989 (bulk 1964-1989)
    Collection number: A1
    Collector: University of California, Los Angeles. Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Kitnick-Alexander Library
    Extent: 55 boxes (42 linear ft.)
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Kitnick-Alexander Library
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1549
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions

    Access to the archives collection is by appointment.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Registrar. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Digital Representations Available

    Digital representations of selected materials and corresponding objects are available as part of the Container List of the finding aid.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Arnold Rubin Papers, Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Kitnick-Alexander Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Biography

    Arnold Gary Rubin was born on July 24, 1937. He received a Bachelor of Architecture from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. In 1964 he earned an M.A. in Art History from Indiana University in Bloomington where he subsequently received his Ph.D. five years later. While at Indiana, he studied the arts of Africa, Oceania, and Pre-Columbian America, as well as the arts of ancient Greece and Rome, specializing in African Area Studies under the tutelage of Roy Sieber.
    Rubin began his field research of the arts of the Middle Benue Valley of Nigeria in the summer of 1964, traveling to Europe to survey West African collections in major museums with a fellowship from the Ford Foundation. During the following 17 months Rubin was in Nigeria with his former wife, Barbara Rubin (nee Hudson), and young daughter. His field investigations included the traditional arts in their cultural and historical contexts, including sculpture, masks, architecture, ceramics, textiles, and vocal and instrumental music. The primary focus was on the Jukun-speaking peoples of the Benue River Valley with comparative studies of the Kutep, Chamba, Yukuben, Mumuye, Wurkun, Yergum, Tiv, and Idoma peoples. His objectives were to create a census of monuments, emphasizing the distributions of particular forms and styles; to collect oral and manuscript histories; and to study artists at work, as well as performances of masquerades and ceremonies. His larger goal was to reassess the Jukun history and the accepted view of the role of the Jukun in the history of Northern Nigeria. Rubin's concern was with the wider implications of the forms and styles of art for an understanding of the history of the Benue River Valley. He assembled a study collection now housed in the Federal Department of Antiquities of Nigeria and the Anthropology Museum at Indiana University. The Arnold Rubin Archives Collection at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History has Rubin's diaries, field notes, photographic documentation, audiotapes, and publications from this period.
    After his return, he spent a semester at Indiana University as a Lecturer in the Department of Fine Arts. In the fall of 1967 Rubin was employed as an Acting Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where he remained until 1988. In 1969 he was promoted to Assistant Professor and then to Associate Professor five years later.
    A Fulbright-Hayes African Area Studies Center Faculty Research Grant allowed Rubin to return to Africa in 1969, this time to study the peoples of the Upper Benue River Valley. During this 18-month period, he traveled to Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Ghana and throughout Nigeria spending time researching the collections in the Jos Museum. The Arnold Rubin Archives Collection at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History has Rubin's diaries, field notes, photographic documentation, audiotapes, and publications from this period.
    Back in Los Angeles, Rubin spent 1972 continuing his investigations of unconventional artistic phenomena in Southern California including gravestone decorations at Forest Lawn Cemetery, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, urban murals, customized vehicles, tattoo and other forms of body art. Although grant funds were denied to create a major exhibition on body arts and tattoo, Marks of Civilization is a major contribution to the field. This catalog accompanied the "Art of the Body" symposium held at UCLA in late January of 1983. An exhibition exploring body art-related materials from the Fowler's collection complemented the symposium. Rubin was one of the first scholars to explore the relationship of tattoos between art, culture, history, psychology, and sociology, heralding the tattoo renaissance of the late 20th century. The Arnold Rubin Archives Collection at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History has extensive photographic documentation, correspondence, newsletters, journals, and field notes from this period.
    Rubin's interest in popular culture also manifested itself in the first serious field research of the Pasadena [California] Tournament of Roses Parade. He taught a graduate seminar in art history focused on temporary art, masquerade, and spontaneous gatherings in Western culture that focused on the annual Rose Parade ceremonies, parade floats, and costumes. These phenomena inspired subsequent investigations of the Rose Parade by some of Rubin's former students. The Arnold Rubin Archives Collection at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History has Rubin's (and Rubin's students') diaries, field notes, photographic documentation, and publications from this period.
    It was also during this year that Rubin wrote an essay entitled, "Art as Technology in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern California." The ideas from this essay developed into a freshmen-level course at UCLA, "Art 55: An Introduction of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and Native America." The final result of the course and course reader for Art 55 was a published monograph entitled "Art as Technology." Many of the courses Rubin taught surveyed the arts of Africa, Oceania, and Pre-Colombian America. He also led graduate level seminars and methodology courses. The Arnold Rubin Archives Collection at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History has Rubin's lecture notes, photographic documentation, and publications from this period, as well as the course reader and samples of student papers from Rubin's art history courses for undergraduate and graduate students.
    Rubin traveled abroad three more times in order to continue his museum research in Nigeria; to investigate the representations of Black Africans in Indian/Islamic paintings and other evidence of Africans in Asia; to conduct tattoo and body-piercing research primarily in the Indian states of Gujarat and Maharashtra; and to gather information from museums and private collections in preparation of the Museum of Cultural History's "Sculpture of the Benue River Valley" exhibition and catalog. This major project was not realized in his lifetime. The Arnold Rubin Archives Collection at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History has Rubin's field notes, photographic documentation, correspondence, and publications from this period.
    Rubin died of cancer on April 9, 1988.
    In a tribute to Arnold Rubin, Roy Sieber has written, " The contextual basis for the arts that delighted Arnold was anathema during earlier art historical studies in connoisseurship, in orthodox studies of style change, and in the biographies of artists.. . . Eclecticism---the bringing of all and any useful method and theory from any and all other disciplines to bear on the study of the context of the work of art -- has long been the rallying cry of Africanists and, combined with a concern for cultural pluralism, was Arnold's credo."
    Bibliography
    • Ben-Amos, Paula and Arnold Rubin, editors. The Art of Power, the Power of Art : Studies in Benin Iconography. Monograph series; no. 19. Los Angeles: Museum of Cultural History, UCLA, 1983.
    • Ben-Amos, Paula and Arnold Rubin, editors. Forest Lawn. Santa Monica, California: Westside Publications, 1979.
    • Povey, John and Arnold Rubin, editors. Observations and Interpretations : 2000 Years of Nigerian Art. Los Angeles : African Studies Center, University of California, 1981.
    • Rubin, Arnold, ed. Marks of Civilization : Artistic Transformations of the Human Body. Los Angeles : Museum of Cultural History, University of California, Los Angeles, 1988
    • Rubin, Arnold. African Accumulative Sculpture; Power and Display : [catalogue of an exhibition] September 21-October 19, 1974. New York: The Pace Gallery, 1974.
    • Rubin, Arnold. Art as Technology : The Arts of Africa, Oceania, Native America, and Southern California / edited by Zena Pearlstone. Beverly Hills, CA : Hillcrest Press, 1989.
    • Rubin, Arnold. Black Namban : Africans in Japan during the Sixteenth Century. Prepared by the African Studies Program, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. Bloomington : The Program, 1974.
    • Rubin, Arnold. Figurative sculptures of the Niger River Delta : exhibition, September 28-October 25. Los Angeles: Gallery K, 1976.
    • Rubin, Arnold. Yoruba sculpture in Los Angeles [Exhibition] 10 March to 6 April 1969. Claremont, California: Montgomery Art Center, Pomona College, 1969.
    • Rubin, Barbara, Robert Carlton and Arnold Rubin. Forest Lawn. L.A. in installments 1 series. Santa Monica, California: Westside Publications, 1979.

    Scope and Content

    The Arnold Rubin Papers consist of diaries and journals, correspondence, published articles, photographs, slides, negatives, newsletters, manuscripts, course materials, news clippings, and ephemera produced and collected by Arnold Rubin. The focus of the collection is in the three major areas of Rubin's research interest; the arts of Africa, the Pasadena [California] Tournament of Roses, and tattoo. It also includes research materials and publications on Africans in India, religious ceremonies, public events, unconventional art in Southern California; the arts of Oceania, Native North America and pre-Columbian America; body art such as painting and piercing; popular culture, folk art, and "outsider art".
    The collection contains rare materials printed in Africa during the mid 20th century, as well as pages from field notes and diaries from early Africanists which Rubin copied or photographed when a photocopy machine was unavailable. Some of these manuscripts were never printed and are housed in archival collections in Africa.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    Africa (see also Nigeria series for digital images)
    • Published articles - magazine, journal, and newspaper articles
    • SBRV - Sculpture of the Benue River Valley
    • Field Notes - used for notes, journals, diaries
    • Thesis & Dissertation
    • Conference - Notes and papers given at, or prepared for, conferences
    • Provincial reports - Historic reports on provinces in Africa
    • Exhibit - materials relating to exhibitions
    • Accessions - materials relating to accession of objects by the Fowler Museum of Cultural History
    • ACASA - materials relating to the Arts Council of the African Studies Association
    • Sculpture - materials relating to sculpture usually already owned by a repository. Please note, this sub-series is distinct from field notes.
    Africans in Asia
    Anthropology
    • Published articles - magazine, journal, and newspaper articles
    India
    • Published articles - magazine, journal, and newspaper articles
    • Africans - materials relating to the study of Africans in India. See also Africans in Asia series.
    Native America
    • Published articles - magazine, journal, and newspaper articles
    • Thesis & Dissertation
    Nigeria (see also Africa series for documents)
    • Crafts - slides depicting objects, craftspeople and techniques in Nigeria
    • Museums - slides depicting museums and museum objects in Nigeria
    • Transportation - slides depicting modes and methods of transportation throughout Nigeria
    • Markets - slides depicting markets throughout Nigeria
    • Landscapes - slides depicting landscapes throughout Nigeria
    • Lower Benue River Valley - slides depicting the Lower Benue River Valley area of Nigeria
    • Middle Benue River Valley - slides depicting the Middle Benue River Valley area of Nigeria
    • Upper Benue River Valley - slides depicting the Upper Benue River Valley area of Nigeria
    • Western Plateau - slides depicting the Western Plateau region of Nigeria
    • Central Plateau - slides depicting the Central Plateau region of Nigeria
    • Eastern Plateau - slides depicting the Eastern Plateau region of Nigeria
    • Highlands - slides depicting the Highlands of Nigeria
    • Towns - slides depicting the towns of Fulani, Gombe, Jos, and Kaduna Craft Village
    Oceania
    • Published articles - magazine, journal, and newspaper articles
    Popular Culture
    • Published articles - magazine, journal, and newspaper articles
    • Religion - materials relating to religious organizations in Southern California
    Tattoo
    • Published articles - magazine, journal, and newspaper articles
    • Thesis & Dissertation
    • India - materials relating to tattoo and body decoration in India.
    • Exhibit - materials relating to the planning of the tattoo exhibition
    • Art of the Body Symposium - materials relating to the symposium held at the Fowler Museum of Cultural History.
    • Artwork - materials relating to the design of tattoos and tattoo patterns.
    • Souvenirs - materials and ephemera collected by Rubin relating to tattoos.
    • Tattoo Artists - materials relating to individual tattoo artists
    Teaching materials - materials relating to course work, lectures and academic affairs.
    Tournament of Roses
    • Rose Parade - materials relating to the Tournament of Roses Rose Parade
    • Doo Dah Parade - materials relating to the Doo Dah Parade
    • Floats - materials relating to the design and construction of floats used in the Rose Parade
    • Published articles - magazine, journal, and newspaper articles

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Rubin, Arnold, 1937-1988
    Tattoo artists.
    Tattooing.
    Body marking.
    Art--Nigeria.
    Art, Nigerian--Research.
    Sculpture, Nigerian--Nigeria
    Sculpture--Nigeria--Benue River Valley.
    Art, African.
    Tournament of Roses, Pasadena, Calif.