All the books reviews
Picasso’s Collection of African and Oceanic Art Masters of Metamorphosis - (ENGLISH)
The city of Barcelona and the Museu Barbier-Mueller Art Precolombi commemorated the centennial of Pablo Picasso’s return to the Catalan capital with an exhibition that examined his work and his collection of tribal art (see TRIBAL, summer 2006, p. 53 and the show’s catalogue Picasso: the Man of a Thousand Masks, published by Editions Somogy). With this new publication, the author, Peter Stepan, dives even deeper into Picasso’s “tribal” world. Here for the first time, the artist’s collection of African and Oceanic objects is published and described. Using archived documents and photographs, many unpublished, the author has reconstructed a year-by-year chronology of Picasso’s collecting activities, revealing his close raport with these distant arts and allowing revealing insights into on his work as a whole. The influence of these arts was only ambiguously acknowledged by the artst—recall his notable witticism, “African art? Don’t know it!”—though it is revealed in his rendering of faces. The austerity of Iberian art, Greek classicism, the idealization of stone masks from Mexico, and the stylization and expressiveness of African masks and statues informed his creative process (as can be said of many European modernists). One as only to look at Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), La Guitare (1912) or his portraits of his wife Olga Khokhlova or his mistress, Marie- Thérèse Walter, among many others.
Plains Indian Art of the Early Reservation Era. The Donald Danforth Jr. Colletion at the Saint Louis Art Museum - (ENGLISH)
St. Louis businessman and philanthropist Donald Dan- forth Jr. (1932–2001) developed a love for Native Ameri- can culture and the West during his childhood. Over the course of his lifetime, he amassed a collection of artworks and artifacts created by members of indigenous groups from the Plains and Plateau at a time when Native Ame- ricans were adapting their mobile, equestrian lifestyles to the con nes of reservations. The collection is particularly strong in beadwork and quillwork on hide, including moc- casins, clothing, pipe bags, assorted bags, pouches and cases, jewelry, children’s items, and horse regalia. In 2010, Danforth’s widow, Carolyn, gave 251 works from the col- lection to the Saint Louis Art Museum, greatly enhancing its holdings in this eld. This fully illustrated catalog documents 138 objects from this collection through essays by an array of notable experts, supported with historical photos and artworks. It also discusses Danforth and his sensibilities as a collector of Native American art. This collection doucuments the remarkable creativity of a tumultuous period of change and is a valuable resource for experts and beginners alike.
Plaited Arts from the Bornéo Rainforest - (ENGLISH)
One of the richest basketry traditions in the world, the plaited objects produced in Bornéo are created from plant materials gathered in the rainforest and worked by hand using techniques passed from génération to génération. Unrivaled in their combination of beauty, form, and func-tion, they provide a unique window on the way of life of Borneo's inhabitants. Using a contextual and interdisciplinary approach, this book explores how people in Bornéo rely on their plaited articles, whether for daily use or in the ritual sphère. The contributors to this volume are among the world's leading authorities on the arts of Bornéo. The volume is divided into twelve parts that cover the complex rôle of basketry in Bornéo societies, including the ethnobotanical and technical aspects of basketry, the distribution of plaited arts by région, and the past and current market for Borneo's plaited arts. The abundantly illustrated appendix surveys the relation between the natural tropical environ-ment and the material culture. Illustrated with over 1,200 photographs (mostly in color), newly commissioned maps, rare historical photographs, and detailed line drawings, this book is a valuable and overdue contribution.
Playful Performers African Children's Masquerades - (ENGLISH)
Masquerades are prominent in the cultures of sub- Saharan Africa and there is extensive literature on the subject. Children’s pre-initiation masquerades, however, Masquerades are prominent in the cultures of sub- Saharan Africa and there is extensive literature on the subject. Children’s pre-initiation masquerades, however,
Playing Cards of the Apaches: A Study in Cultural Adaptation - (ENGLISH)
More than a hundred sets of Apache playing cards are in museum collections across the globe, and this book examines their unique designs, patterns, and materials. The Waylands have had a nearly lifelong interest in these cards, which were introduced to the Southwest by European settlers. The Apache soon developed their own games and created their own decks, many made of hide and some even rumored to be of human skin— though this has never been proven. The methods of manufacture are explored in detail, and an illustrated chapter on the basic design elements allows the reader to see the range of variation from deck to deck. The major part of this densely illustrated volume is dedicated to detailed and comprehensive descriptions of these fascinating objects that represent a peaceful encounter between cultures.
Raja Ampat Ritual Art - (ENGLISH)
Over the course of the last century, the traditional ritual art related to ancestor cults, spirit beliefs, and headhunting has withered in the sparsely populated Raja Ampat archipelago. Setting out to establish an inventory of mon spirit figures, korwars, and secret priests’ drawings, this book also delves into the exploits of naturalists, explorers, colonial administrators, and, in particular, missionaries since the beginning of the nineteenth century. The social and cosmological background of the spirit and ancestor figurines from the archipelago is discussed extensively with a wealth of fascinating details and new insights. In the process, it is shown that the demise and the exodus of the traditional art resulted from complex interactions between indigenous agency, conversion, cargo cult activity, modernization, and, signifi cantly, intervention by colonial administrators. The abundant illustrations feature most of the known korwar figures, which have a distinctive and much-admired style, and also include a number of stunning, sacred-secret drawings depicting the spirit world devised by indigenous priests to serve in their rituals. Acquired during the 1930s, these drawings were long believed to be lost but have recently been rediscovered. The author, Raymond Corbey, is an anthropologist attached to Leiden University in the Netherlands and has published extensively in this field.
Regards de marchands. La passion des arts premiers - (ENGLISH / FRENCH)
The catalog of the exhibition organized by the Parcours des Mondes art fair at the Monnaie de Paris reveals masterpieces of tribal art through the eyes of the principal dealers in the field. The objects presented here were sold at one time or another by the dealers who participated in the Parcours. Most are in private collections and few have previously been published. This beautifully illustrated book features unpublished interviews with Helene Leloup and collector Guy Porre, as well as biographies of some sixty international dealers that reveal a wide variety of experiences in this little-recognized profession. It also shows the role that these fascinating personalities have played in discovering and promoting rare and important artworks from the world's far-flung cultures.
Regards de masques: Carnets de route au Gabon - (FRENCH)
Since there is an interest for African art, the identity of these objects' creators or first owners has been occulted, almost always excluded from books solely focusing on the aesthetic. This absence leads us to doubt of the existence of the authors and owners of objects presented as anonymous masterworks by the occidental world. Have these lost masks never had a master to sculpt them and touch them with love and respect? Have no caring hand ever smoothed the Kaolin before drying it to the flame of a torch in okoumé? Would their departure have caused no regrets, no tears? All these objects, orphans in museum's displays or in some private collections, have families that their new owners too often chose to ignore. This road book intend to make these people, their faces and their gazes, come alive, faces and gazes that are deeply intertwined with those of their masks.
Répertoire des photographes français d’outre-mer, de 1839 à 1920 - (FRENCH)
This book is a survey of nineteenth-century French and foreign photographers who worked in French territories, as well as of French photographers who worked overseas in areas other than France and Europe. Its author, François Boisjoly, himself a photographer and a student of the field’s history, includes more than 1,500 names and some 1,000 photographs in the book, which he began working on more than thirty-five years ago. It is structured like a directory, with individual entries that offer succinct but revealing information on every photographer listed, including his or her name, presumed years of activity, the nature of the work, the main techniques used, and primary work address. In some cases, additional biographical notes make it possible to better place the photographers in question into the context of their times. The photographs are reproduced mostly in small format, although a few are full page, and they give life to this directory that, with its excellent imagery and careful and elegant layout, has all the qualities of a fine art book. It will delight interested readers, who can also look forward to four future volumes that are presently in the works.
Representing Africa in American Art Museums: A Century of Collecting and Display - (ENGLISH)
This comprehensive volume on African art in American museums details the stories of thirteen institutions and their efforts to build and present their collections of African art over the course of the last century. Recognizing the value of traditional African objects not merely as anthropological specimens but as profound works of art in themselves, a number of insightful curators and collectors strove to elevate this “new” art to greater public acclaim. Representing Africa in American Art Museums dedicates a chapter to each of these important projects, addressing their diverse approaches, initiatives, and inspirations. The book also gives readers a glimpse into the personalities and philosophies of the people who were the driving forces behind them, examining the often obsessive zeal and dedication of these influential figures for the forms of Africa.