All the books reviews
African Currency - Monete tribali dell’Africa subsahariana - (ENGLISH)
Interest in objects used as currency is supported by remarkably little literature on the subject. While a number of publications are devoted to sub-Saharan form objects and mention and illustrate certain types of currencies, well-documented monographs on the subject remain rare. This work fills that void. The book’s editor details his field research, information that is complemented by texts by various authors reflecting on the varied iconography of these objects. The book offers a fairly complete panorama of currencies from West Africa as well as an examination of the metal objects from the Congo that were used in commercial exchange or to express the social status of their owners. At the end of the book, mention is also made of other types of natural and man-made objects, such as cowrie shells, glass beads, and textiles, that were also used as currency in certain traditional societies.
African Dream Machines: Style, Identity and Meaning of African Headrests - (ENGLISH)
The objective of this book is to extract African headrests from the realm of the purely functional and to relocate them to the realm of art objects, a decision that usually hinges on European taste and archaeological discourse. This book invites the reader to question and reflect upon the meaning of the word "style," and demonstrates the reductive nature of attributing a particular model to a particular group. In the course of her fifteen years of research, the author made drawings of each object she examined and they are all reproduced in this book. African Dream Machines also addresses the broader relationship that exists between formal styles, ethnic groups, and classifications. Through a discussion of historical factors, the author demonstrates that the elements of authenticity so sought after by European collectors are, in fact, largely influenced by a European approach. The final chapter explores the significance of African headrests in relation to various perspectives, including the fascination with which they are viewed by Westerners, their rich anthropomorphic and zoomorphic iconography, and even the various ways in which they are used.
African Faces. Un hommage au masque africain. Ecn Hommage aan het afrikaanse Masker - (FRENCH)
This sublime, folio-format work is a testimony to the beauty and power of African masks. In its pages, Belgian collector and gallery owner Marnix Neerman and art photographer Hugo Maertens enable readers to discover a number of hidden treasures at the Musee Royal de I'Afrique Centrale in Tervuren, the Ethnographic Museum in Antwerp, the university in Ghent and Louvain, as well as several private collections. While African Faces might be above all a book to admire visually and to leaf through with pleasure, the editorial contributions made by Maertens, professor emeritus at the University of Ghent, offer a fine overview of the masking traditions of sub-Saharan Africa. Over 100 pieces are illustrated with frontal, back, and detail shots, thus providing a new and pertinent approach to the documentation of these intriguing, seductive, and sometimes threatening works. "No one has ever seen African art as you have," were reported to be New York dealer Merton Simpson's words upon viewing the first photos taken for the book.
African Goldweights : Miniature Sculptures from Ghana 1400-1900 - (ENGLISH)
The Akan people of Ghana and Cote d'lvoire began producing brass weights to measure gold dust more than 600 years ago. More than 500 weights have been selected for this volume, and nearly all of them are illustrated at life size within its covers. These miniature sculptures are elaborately decorated with depictions of animals, birds, and fish, as well as human beings engaged in everyday activities and performances. Fascinating in terms of imagery, African Goldweights also offers informative insight into the weights' history, styles, and creation process. The author, who was the curator of the landmark Africa: Art of a Continent exhibition, has long been an enthusiastic collector of these small but compelling sculptures. Phillips has also produced a facsimile of a sketch book he created in the 1970s documenting a large number of gold weights. This is available in a limited-edition boxed set that also includes African Goldweights.
African Impressions: Tribal Art and Currents of Life - (ENGLISH / FRENCH)
This beautifully produced bilingual (French and English) hardcover book features ninety-one sub-Saharan African objects, primarily figures and masks, from an important anonymous European collection. Some of the pieces are well known to us, while many others are published here for the first time. All are beautifully illustrated and photographed, and are accompanied by an insightful and comprehensive text, which includes not only descriptions of the objects but a wealth of historical information and in-depth discussion of how the objects were used. It also places special emphasis on the geographical factors—rivers in particular—that influenced and contributed to the dissemination of styles and ideas in African art, as well as the worldviews that the objects reflected. A compelling argument is made that the complexity of the cultural interrelatedness that prevailed makes the identification of specific and well defined style areas less straightforward than it is often assumed to be.
African Mud Cloth: The Bogolanfini Art Tradition of Gneli Traoré of Mali - (ENGLISH)
This publication, which accompanied an exhibition at The African Art Museum of the S.M.A. Fathers in Tenafly, New Jersey, is a tribute to Gneli Traoré and her bogolanfini work. During the years he worked in Mali, the author met Gneli in 1966 and formed a friendship that lasted until her death in 2002. Throughout this time, he studied the spectacular and distinctive Bamana mud cloths which she created and which are documented in this publication. Over almost four decades, Imperato developed a deep appreciation of Gneli’s innovativeness as she created and developed designs according to changes in time, economy, and Western influences. The many photographs in the book trace these developments as well as the variety within bogolanfini tradition. Imperato describes the techniques used by Gneli, her children, and students, and concludes the volume with a discussion of her frequently used designs, as well as a catalogue of her textiles.
African Sculpture - (ENGLISH)
First published in 1966 and long out of print, this new edition of Robbins’ pioneering work is a comprehensive photographic survey of the vast range of tribal sculpture from Africa. It features 347 works from Senegal to the Congo regions, Mali to Sierra Leone. This book provides a concise opportunity to view the diversity, expressive quality, and sheer evocative power of African art, and to gain a better understanding of one of the great heritages of mankind. Robbins presents the pieces from the perspective of both Africa and the West. Believing that the works are classical rather than primitive art, his sensitive analysis of the stylistic refinements of the various tribes past and present emphasizes the importance of preserving this art for posterity. The black-and-white photos are of poor quality by today’s standards, but many of the pieces were in famous collections at the time the book was first published and have gone on to become icons of world art. They are timeless and this book is as well.
African Textiles. The Karun Thakar Collection - (ENGLISH)
This book offers a fascinating journey through the history and culture of textiles in Africa drawn from the private collection of Karun Thakar. Consisting of more than 4,000 pieces, it is widely considered to be one of the fi nest in the world. Since it is based on a single collection, it is not an encyclopedic survey, but rather highlights material that has been available on the market over the course of a generation. It features rare and exquisite textiles from Central, North, and West Africa and includes weavings from Ghana, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire; embroideries, veils, and haiks from Morocco and Tunisia; and raffi a fabrics from Congo. Organized by region, each piece is dramatically photographed to highlight the extraordinary colors, patterns, and skill with which it was created. The book provides not only a thrilling sample of timeless patterns and designs, but also a historical perspective that deepens our understanding of the importance of woven materials in the African tradition.
African Vision. The Walt Disney -Tishman African Art Collection - (ENGLISH)
This book was published on the occasion of the 2005 donation of the Walt Disney-Tishman Collection of African Art to the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC, by the Walt Disney World Company (see TRIBAL, winter 2006, pages 78–91). Passionate collectors with refined taste, the Tishmans began acquiring African sculptures in the 1960s, often in consultation with Hélène and Henri Kamer. Over time, they assembled a collection of rare and unique pieces that ultimately included representative works from almost every part of sub-Saharan Africa. Despite its encyclopedic nature, their selection of works was not made on the basis of representing every ethnic group or of any other particular criteria other than pure aesthetic response. More than 100 extraordinary pieces are superbly rendered in this book in full-page color illustrations, and each is accompanied by informative descriptive text.
Afrikanske Masker - (Danish)
In the foreword, the author writes, “After a meeting with the sculptor Robert Jacobsen in the summer of 1972 at the airport of Copenhagen, I went to visit him in Munich where he was teaching art. Shortly after, I was invited to his house in Tagelund, Denmark, and I discovered his impressive African art collection, which inspired me to become an African art collector myself.” Today an expert in the field, in this volume Holmstedt uses ten chapters to describe forty-six masks from Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, and Angola. Each chapter begins with a geographical and historical presentation about the particular country, which is followed by information on the specific ethnic groups to which the masks belong. The masks with which the work is illustrated come from the greatest public and private collections in the world. This is the first book produced in Denmark about African masks since the four-volume 1938 Centres de style de la sculpture nègre africaine by Carl Kjersmeier.