All the books reviews
L'Architecture precolombienne en Mesoamerique - (FRENCH)
This magnificent book is dedicated to pre-Columbian architecture. It explains the "hidden messages" that the temples and pyramids with their vertiginous staircases conceal. From polychrome painting to cosmic symbolism, this is a thorough survey on the subject, which was overseen by Maria Teresa Uriarte, a distinguished scholar and director of the Instituto de Investigaciones Esteticas at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.
L'art du cuir en Mauritanie - (FRENCH)
Edisud continues to be faithful to its mission of enlarging the available corpus of material devoted to the Mediterranean—particularly to the Arab and Berber cultures—with the publication of this handsome little book. It is richly illustrated and an excellent source of information on its subject matter, the art of leather working in Mauritania. Marie-Françoise Delarozière spent eighteen years in Mauritania, and she deals with the topic in a narrative style. Colored drawings enhance this very useful book, sure to be of interest to those who collect this material.
L'homme blanc: Les représentations de I'Occidental dans les arts non européens - (FRENCH)
This exhibition catalog is intended as an introduction that is appropriate for the general public. Nicolas Menut, the young anthropologist in charge of document acquisitions at the Musee du Quai Branly, has put together a large array of non-European objects showing the white man in all his aspects: as monarch, soldier, sailor, and missionary. A whole corpus of images from Africa, Oceania, Asia, and the Americas, many of them hitherto unpublished, represent the fascination, terror, and/or hatred that the "pale-skinned other" instilled in indigenous peoples, who, little by little, integrated them into their symbolic and artistic universe. Africa has the lion's share with everything ranging from bronze plaques from the kingdom of Benin to so-called "colonial" sculpture, but North America is also well represented with Alaskan Eskimo scrimshaw walrus tusks and Sioux vests depicting combat between a great Indian chief and a U.S. soldier. Other less-well-known objects include Indonesian calabashes engraved with scenes that recall those appearing on New Caledonian engraved bamboos. Japanese screens with the black silhouettes of Jesuit missionaries, Henta panels from the Nicobar Islands, and a Yoruba effigy figure of Queen Victoria are also part of this abundant art corpus in which the white man is appropriately the subject of observation and representation.
L'Inde des tribus oubliées - (FRENCH)
The Indian government calls them the "Scheduled Tribes," an administrative term that designates multiple large communities spread out over the Indian territory, which, with a population of some 40 million, make up about eight percent of the country's population. India is a mosaic of cultures, religions and languages, of an unparalleled diversity. This book pays homage to its aboriginal peoples, also called the Adivasis, some of which have a history of over 20,000 years. Tribal India has a rich and, with the exception of the Nagas, still poorly known material culture. With a preface by Dominique Lapierre, one of the great connoisseurs of contemporary India and author of City of Joy, this work is the fruit of the labors of Vinay Srivastava, professor of social anthropology at the Universities of Delhi and Cambridge; of Declan Quigley, researcher at the University of Belfast; and of Italian photographers Tiziana and Gianni Baldizzone, whose fine images, mostly previously unpublished, accompany the well-documented text. The book is a must for lovers of the tribal art of the Indian subcontinent.
La collection lobi de Peter Loebarth - (FRENCH)
Peter Loebarth assembled his collection between 1977 and 1983, while he was stationed at a mission in Togo. Though his collection has since been dispersed, the author of this publication, a well-known devotee of Lobi art (see Anonymous Lobi Sculptors, TRIBAL, winter 2006, page 144), has located and brought together most of the objects in the collection for this book. Most of the photographs in it were taken by Loebarth himself and were intended for his personal use, so this is less of an art book than a reference work for researchers and collectors. Its value lies in its presentation of the stylistic variation that occurs in the pieces that made up this collection.
La Collection, musée du quai Branly - (FRENCH)
How to avoid the pitfalls of monotony and academicism when publishing the catalog of a collection? The impressive work that the Musée du Quai Branly has just produced in collaboration with Skira-Flammarion provides a viable answer to the question. Neither superficial nor austere, this elegant book is enhanced by 300 illustrations (many full page) and affords neophytes and the initiated alike an opportunity to travel through the museum presentation in six parts: the African, Oceanic, Asian, and American collections, as well as the museum’s photographic and historical holdings. Supervising editor Yves Le Fur takes most pride in the fact that some 150 authors contributed highly informative texts to the publication. From Mali to Japan, by way of India and Madagascar, these specialists shed new light on objects all too often confined to Eurocentric interpretation. The book does not merely consist of an assemblage of masterpieces. Its pages include modest and often unusual pieces such as the “leaf dolls” from Madhya Pradesh and Japanese votive boards collected by André Leroi-Gourhan between 1937 and 1939. The reader also learns about significant gifts to the museum, such as the Nigerian Mumuye statue donated by Jacques Kerchache’s wife, and the fascinating Bembe (Democratic Republic of Congo) statuette that came into the Musée de l’Homme's collection thanks to Michel Leiris. The book’s style is sober and classical (Le Fur chose light backgrounds for the illustrations in order to “go beyond the dramatized idea of tribal art”), but nonetheless seduces its reader with the scientific rigor of its texts and the wealth of the bibliographic information it offers. As its title suggests, it is a call for rediscovery.
La fibre des ancêtres. Trésors textiles d’Indonésie de la collection Georges Breguet - (FRENCH)
Geneva collector Georges Breguet has been following Indonesian textiles for more than thirty years. His fascination started with a trip to Bali, where he was struck by the landscape of terraced rice fields, by the people who tended them, and the gods they worshipped. He acquired his first textile in a village, almost by accident, and that acquisition sparked a passion that would never leave him. From Sumatra to Timor and from Sulawesi to Roti, he traveled through the Indonesian archipelago on a voyage of discovery of the tremendous wealth of local textile styles. He studied their sacred uses, and kept scrupulous records. His collection of some 1,000 textile works ranges from ancient to modern and from rustic cotton cloths to princely silks. Above and beyond the variety of materials and the creativity of the designs they display, the textiles are full of meaning. They link the living with the gods and the dead; transmit cosmologies and rules; and, upon death, allow a trouble-free ascension to the world of the ancestors. This catalogue is abundantly illustrated with in situ images and with photographs by Johnathan Watts of some 100 textiles. The text offers a detailed analysis of the diversity of materials, weaving techniques, and symbols that these textiles incorporate. Most of all, this book highlights the virtuosity of the women who are the masters of the magical art of weaving.
La redoutable statuaire songye d’Afrique Centrale - (FRENCH)
Long awaited, the research on the Songye population of DR Congo by Father François Neyt (a Benedictine monk who taught African art in various universities in Zaire) is finally published in this volume. Following his previous works, la Grande Statuaire Hemba in 1977 and Luba aux sources du Zaïre in 1993, this carefully produced book completes a lifetime’s work on the study of the major sculptural styles of the Upemba Depression, the source of the Congo River. Illustrated by a selection of masterpieces from international private and public collections, this work is an essential reference for all those interested in this monumental, often frightening, and mysterious art.
Land Marks: Indigenous Australian Art in the National Gallery of Victoria - (ENGLISH)
This catalogue accompanied an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria and presents an introduction to both old and contemporary Australian Aboriginal art. Much of the art displayed in it is by contemporary artists who have developed and maintained an ancient tradition in a creative and colorful aesthetic form. Works by these artists elaborate on the multitude of form, pattern and creativity that are to be found within this ancient culture. As it includes five essays, the reader (and viewer) of the catalogue will also find its acquisition informative. The catalogue concludes with a fascinating chronological overview of artistic, cultural, and historical events of the region going back to 60,000 BP.
Land of the Flying Masks. Art and Culture in Burkina Faso. The Thomas G.B. Wheelock Collection - (ENGLISH)
Thomas Wheelock is well known as one of the most important collectors of art from Burkina Faso, formerly Upper Volta. In this abundantly illustrated book, he invites us to share his collection with him, to discover the many styles of the vast region, and to better understand the great variety of rituals which the masks are used for. He offers captivating descriptions of the many ethnic groups, including the Bobo, Mossi, Bwa, Nunuma, Nuna, Gurunsi and Lobi. The colored masks represent the village’s protective spirits, and are a trademark of Burkina Faso’s culture. The agriculture-based inhabitants of the dry savanna, where harvests depend on rains, use the masks in purification rituals, and to reconcile with the natural forces that rule them. The reader will also discover a multitude of ceremonial objects including costumes, dance ornaments, statues, jewelry and utilitarian objects. A rigorous analysis of the subject matter by Christopher Roy, well-known specialist in the area, makes the book an invaluable reference tool.