All the books reviews
Rêves de beauté. Sculptures africaines de la collection Blanpain - (FRENCH)
Marc Blanpain, well known as one of Belgium’s foremost African art collectors, agreed to lend his collection for display at an exhibition sponsored by the Banque Générale du Luxembourg. The exhibition catalog, produced by Bernard de Grunne, documents numerous hitherto unseen pieces, the fruits of Blanpain’s passion. The collector acknowledges the decisive role that his friends and advisors played— among them Jean-Paul Barbier, Pierre Dartevelle, and de Grunne—in developing his eye and broadening his knowledge of African art. With its examples of fine works from the archaeological cultures of Mali and Niger to historic objects from the heart of the Congo, the Blanpain Collection is exceptional in more than one respect, and this catalogue will be an opportunity for those who could not attend the exhibition to appreciate the quality of the pieces presented.
Rêves en colère, avec les Aborigènes australiens - (FRENCH)
The land is violated and threatened with annihilation by a humanity that claims to be one of “progress” but is ignorant of the great laws of balance. This is the message that the Aborigines of Australia’s great northern deserts conveyed to the author of this remarkable book in the Terre Humaine series. For the fiftieth anniversary of the series, published by Plon and edited by Jean Malaurie, a moving text has been chosen that emphasizes the spiritual attachment of the Aborigines to their land. It denounces the suffering that they have endured, while revealing the strategies for survival they have developed. It expresses the anger of the spirits that animate dreams, myths, and rituals, as well as the designs that are incised on rocks, bodies and sand—art works that are the living expression of the almost physical alliances between man and the cosmos. Barbara Glowczewski is an anthropologist, a director of research at the CNRS, and researcher at the Laboratory of Social Anthropology of the Collège de France. She is married to Wayne Barker Jowandi, an Aboriginal filmmaker and composer, and has devoted her life to a better understanding of the Australian Aborigines, especially the Yawuru, Ngarinyin, Warlpiri, and Yolngu.
Revolutions : A Century of Makonde Masquerade in Mozambique - (ENGLISH)
The survival of the masquerade traditions of Mozambique throughout the country’s historical upheavals is testament to the profound cultural significance of this form of celebration and religious expression. Its wooden masks are mainly created and used by men, who are accompanied in their dances by drums. The masks and other art objects featured in the catalogue are endowed with great detail and expression, and take the forms of both humans and animals. Revolutions was published in conjunction with an eponymous exhibition at the Wallach Art Gallery last fall.
Ritual Beauty: Art of the Ancient Americas - (ENGLISH)
Featuring approximately 170 extraordinary objects of pre-Columbian origin, Ritual Beauty: Art of the Ancient Americas includes ancient vessels, effigy jars, textiles and adornments, clay figures, stone sculptures, and implements fashioned from copper, silver and gold. Together these offer a window on the aesthetic worlds of Mesoamerica and the Andean region prior to European contact. This book and the exhibition it complements intend to provide a better understanding of the aesthetic, social, political, and religious life of the pre-Columbian world in which these exceptional objects were created, as well as an occasion to study, appreciate, and enjoy the artistic achievements of these rich cultures through their material past. Beautifully illustrated, the objects from the exhibition accompany readable and informative essays by experts on a variety of subjects relating to pre-Columbian art and culture.
Ritual Figures in Congo - (ENGLISH)
Marc Leo Felix is renowned for having devoted his life to the study and promotion of the peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Each of the many exhibitions he has organized in his Brussels gallery and the collaborations he has been involved in, both with a variety of institutions and with publishers, have been an opportunity for him to offer in-depth knowledge of the myriad peoples and artistic styles of this vast region that he knows so well. He has brought all the experience he can muster to the creation of his latest publication, "Ritual Figures in Congo". It was launched at the recent Winter BRUNEAF along with an exhibition that features some remarkable related works. Published in English, this book is a comprehensive guide to the statuary of the DR Congo through 120 pieces, each with a full-page illustration and detailed and informative text. A first is that the pieces can also be viewed in 360-degree videos by using a QR code. This book will serve as the catalog for a new exhibition Felix is preparing to introduce the arts of the Congo to the Chinese public, which is scheduled to open in June in the city of Chongqing.
Sàngo in Africa and the African Diaspora - (ENGLISH)
Though only one of several hundred recognized deities within the religious system of the Yoruba, Sango is one of the few that has gained international appeal. This volume both draws upon and enriches the body of scholarship on Yoruba-derived religion, offering an in-depth account of the Sango cult and exploring how and why it spread globally. It also looks at the cult's significance for the cultures and the individuals it has touched. With its many contributors, including two of the religion's devotees, Sango presents a complex and multifaceted view of this celebrated Yoruba deity and its modes of worship.
Santa Cruz Island Figure Sculpture in its Social and Ritual Contexts - (ENGLISH)
There are only a small number of figures known from the Santa Cruz Islands and this in-depth study examines fifty examples that represent tutelary deities. Davenport discusses the history and origins of the islands' people and then examines the social, religious, and symbolic aspects of their art. Another chapter is devoted to the various individuals who collected these objects. The well-documented text makes this work an indispensable reference and the accompanying CD has seventy-two documentary photos made prior to independence in 1978.
Senoufo, Trésors inconnus des collections privees - (FRENCH)
The third volume in a series of monographs titled "L'Art du Continent Noir" (Art of the Black Continent), the current work, Senufo, by Burkhard Gottschalk, offers a remarkable selection of more than 200 masks and sculptures from private collections, most of which have never been published before. It also includes in situ photographs. In a text whose clarity and precision are suited to the experienced collector as much as to the ethnologist, the author examines the formal and symbolic wealth of Senufo sculp- ture, one of the most varied of Africa's art forms. After an in-depth discussion of the importance of divination in Senufo culture, which is supported with concrete examples, Gottschalk moves on to an informative and exhaustive examination of the structure and recurring themes of Senufo sculpture using an approach that blends considerations of history, ethnology, and art criticism. From maternities to equestrian figures, by way of utilitarian objects, kpelie dance masks, rare poro statues, and the much-feared anthropomorphic fetish known as kafigelejo, the various art forms of this culture are all touched upon. The modest format of the book is compensated for by the fact that the illustrations of the sculptures shown are often full page, although it does seem regrettable that there is a lack of consistency in the photography, undoubtedly due to the diversity of the origins of the objects depicted. The descriptions of the pieces are included in the text and the details appear at the end of the book.
Serrures du Pays Dogon - (FRENCH)
This work continues an exploration of the artistic traditions of the Dogon of Mali, begun by Editions Adam Biro with the publication of Masques du Pays Dogon, and to be followed by Architecture Dogon, which is scheduled to appear in spring 2004. This publisher is fond of tribal art. He has once again brought together the talents of four noted Dogon scholars in this book, and henceforth the Dogon will be among the best studied ethnic groups in Africa. Here they write on the subject of a specific utilitarian object, the lock, whose symbolic functions of opening and closing takes it back to a conception of the world in which male and female roles are clearly delineated, and to the founding myths of Dogon society. Geneviève Calame-Griaule and Francine Ndiaye, an ethnolinguist and an art historian respectively, analyze the forms and the meanings of Dogon locks in the context of the cosmogony and the architecture to which they are so closely tied. Alain Bilot and Michel Bohbot, selected most of the locks in this book from their private collections. These Mali connoisseurs emphasize the environment in which the artistic expression occurs and describe the economic and cultural frameworks of Dogon society. The role of the blacksmith, who intercedes meaningfully in the relationships between men and the cosmos, is explored in particular.
Shadow Tribe: The Making of Columbia River Tndian Identity - (ENGLISH)
Shadow Tribe offers an in-depth history of the Columbia River Indians of the Pacific Northwest, thoroughly researched over more than a decade by Andrew Fisher, an associate professor of history at the College of William and Mary. Politically, historically, and socioculturally, Fisher delves into the hardships endured by this indigenous North American people, who are neither identified as a cohesive aboriginal group nor a federally recognized tribe. Standing resolute before the forces of Westernization, the Columbia River Indians refused to relocate to officially designated reservations and continued on with their traditional ways of life, despite their many difficulties. Fisher recounts their history from the nineteenth to well into the twentieth century in prose that is at once conversational and highly informative.