All the books reviews
Via Passaré. Alessandro Passaré - (ENGLISH / FRENCH)
Allesandro Passaré (1927–2006) was a physician in Milan, whose patients included artists Piero Manzoni and Lucio Fontana. He was a devotee of contemporary art, archaeology and tribal art, as this abundantly illustrated book clearly demonstrates. Passaré's son has created a display at the Savona Museum that includes documents, travel journals, photographs, and objects from his collection of tribal and modern art. Passaré’s travels were the passion of his life and the objects he collected were their reflection. He was an attentive observer of the cultures he visited, from Iran and Afghanistan to the Pacific, Australia and the Americas, and his prolific notes reveal his unquenchable thirst for discovery. Passaré was particularly sympathetic to the problems of artists in the Brera neighborhood of Milan, where he opened his practice in the 1950s and struck up friendships with artists such as Manzoni, Burra, Fontana, Matta, and Lam. This book recounts the places Passaré visited and the people he met, from contemporary artists to African sculptors, all sources for the discoveries with which he surrounded himself.
Visions d’Afrique - (FRENCH)
This new series of books consists of monographs on each of the main ethnic African groups. It has been produced by 5 Continents Editions and edited by Anne-Marie Bouttiaux of the Tervuren Museum. The authors of the works are all respected experts in their field. The format more resembles a paperback than a traditional art book, but the presentation is very specific. Each is divided into two parts. The first is a thorough and engaging analysis of the culture in question that explores the significance of the objects to the people that created them. This is accompanied by both historical and current in situ photographs. Facts relating to the origins of the objects in different African cultures and the context of their use and evolution are also the subject of this first part. The second part addresses visual and aesthetic qualities and is composed of photographs that feature major pieces. A thorough bibliography concludes each volume. The books are intended to be introductions to the arts of the various African groups, and offer the reader the opportunity to gain an overview of each of them. That being said, they will also be useful reference works to more experienced aficionados with a desire to increase their knowledge of the cultures in question.
Visions of Grace: 100 Masterpieces from the Collection of Daniel and Marian Malcolm - (ENGLISH)
In the summer of 1966, Drs. Daniel and Marian Malcolm ducked into the Grand Palais in Paris to get out of the heat. They discovered an African display there that changed their lives. Since that day, they’ve formed what is unquestionably one of the finest private collections of traditional African art in the United States, one that expresses a strong interest in classicism expressed in objects of consistently high quality. While invitations to visit the Malcolms are not easy for everyone to come by, this beautiful book by Heinrich Schweizer of Sotheby’s, New York, illustrates 100 highlights from their collection, almost entirely from West and Central Africa and ranging in age from a particularly fine two-thousand-year-old Sokoto Nok head to a remarkable twentieth-century northern Nigerian abstract figure, the specific cultural origin of which has yet to be identified
Voyage dans la Chine des cavernes - (FRENCH)
This is an astonishing book on the estimated twenty- to thirty-million rural Chinese Yaodong cave dwellers. Located in central China, in Shan Xi, Hunan, and Xang Chou, cave villages that can be hundreds of centuries old shelter not only a farming and herding population, but also temples, mosques, schools, and even a university. This traditional architecture is made possible by the particular quality of soil in this region along the course of the Yellow River, and by man’s amazing adaptive abilities. Serge Sibert’s photographic work provides fine documentation. In 2001, he published a book on Mauritanian desert dwellings titled Villes de Sable. Jean-Paul Loubés is an architect in Bordeaux where he leads a seminar called Architecture and Anthropology.
Voyage dans ma tête, la collection de coiffes ethniques d'Antoine de Galbert - (FRENCH)
Whether conceived in Africa or Oceania, the steppes of Asia, or the damp forests of the Amazon, the 400 headdresses collected by Antoine de Galbert still carry a sense of the inaccessible and the divine. Instruments of the sacred, they partake in the supernatural, bear witness to the beauty of the ephemeral, and conjure the mysteries of the fates. Publicly unveiled for the first time at the Maison Rouge in Paris, they are also an invitation to dream, a poetic immersion in the arcana of human genius and creativity. Enriched by an interview with the collector, who reveals the genesis of his collection, as well as a humorous text by psychoanalyst Gerard Wajcman, who presents his "hat theory," the exhibition catalog recreates the succession of exhibits: In the Beginning Was Hair, Animal Mimicry, Great Displays (Hunters and Warriors), Bird-Men, Power, and the Sacred.
Whatu Kakahu: Maori Cloaks - (ENGLISH)
This major publication from Te Papa Press opens the storeroom doors of the Maori collection held in the Museum of New Zealand—Te Papa Tongarewa, home to the largest collection of kakahu (cloaks) in the world. This heavily illustrated new book is a celebration of and a tribute to all those who keep the art and spirit of weaving alive. “The concept was to help bring these taonga out into the world, rather than leaving them isolated in the storeroom drawers,” says Awhina Tamarapa—herself a weaver—who began work as a curator with the museum in 1996. Forty of the more rare and precious kakahu from the museum’s collection are specially featured in the book, along with descriptions of the techniques and materials used and the stories of their often remarkable provenance. The cloaks that readers can see are a combination selected by the weavers (wananga), the contributing writers, and the editor. With more than 300 new color images taken by photographer Norman Heke and essays by five prominent practitioners and experts, the book also includes detailed closeups and diagrams of some of the rarer techniques used in their manufacture. This book will be of interest to all who are interested in textiles and traditional weaving styles and methods.
White Gold, Black Hands: Ivory Sculpture in Congo, Vol. 2 - (ENGLISH)
The second volume of White Gold, Black Hands: Ivory Sculpture in Congo starts with the continuation of a typological study of ivory sculpture in the Kongo Kingdom. Marc Leo Félix provides a detailed survey of dignitaries’ scepters, flywhisks, weapons, and objects of undetermined use, all rendered in ivory. This is followed by another impressive chapter written by Viviane Baeke of the Musée royal de l’Afrique centrale in Tervuren addressing the ivory sculpture of the Pende people and revealing the hidden identity of the ikhoko pendants. This subject is so rich that it will be continued in volume 3. Enriched with more than 1,000 color photos, this lavish volume was made in close cooperation with the MRAC. This is every bit as enlightening as volume 1 of this series. Studies of this magnitude are a “must” for those who are interested in Central African art history and anthropology.
White Gold, Black Hands: Ivory Sculpture in Congo, Vol. 1 - (ENGLISH)
This book, which has been in preparation for several years already, is the first volume of a comprehensive—or, rather, encyclopedic—overview of Kongo Kingdom ivories. This volume deals almost exclusively with the work of the western Congo region, whose production of traditional and transitional ivory sculpture has been ongoing since the sixteenth century. These include chiefly Bakongo flywhisk handles and other prestige objects depicting royalty, as well as finely carved religious figures made for trade with Westerners. The editor and main author of this book, Marc Leo Felix, details the use of ivory sculpture in the Kongo Kingdom between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries, looking particularly at its traditional applications. A thorough introduction by Charles Meur discusses ivory as a raw material. This section looks at the origin of elephants themselves and is illustrated with superb drawings by the author. Nichole Bridges of the Baltimore Museum of Art describes the production of decoratively carved tusks in the nineteenth century, of a style that has become known as Loango, after the location where the ivories were carved. Finally, Ignace de Keyser of MRAC Tervuren writes about an early and extraordinary northern Kongo trumpet that is modeled on an antique European design. This book demonstrates the central importance of ivory to the traditional African population even before the "rush" for trade in African ivory at the end of the nineteenth century. It is a valuable reference tool for scholars and collectors alike.
White Gold, Black Hands: Ivory Sculpture in Congo, vol. 3 - (ENGLISH)
The third volume of the series White Gold, Black Hands: Ivory Sculpture in Congo starts with an essay by Dr. Viviane Baeke of the Royal Museum of Central Africa (Tervuren). For this volume she provides indepth analysis of the use of whistles, mortars, and anthropomorphic figurines in ivory among the Pende people. Trying to identify the makers of other ivory sculptures found between the Kwango and Kasai Rivers among the less-well-known Mbala, Mbuun, Wongo, Pindi, Suku, Yaka, Tsaam, and Nkanu peoples was Marc Felix’s task. Parisian art dealer and connoisseur Christine Valluet managed to track down the majority of the kiteki pendants in ivory found that were made by the Hungaan people and their neighbors, and she enthusiastically shares her passion for these tiny sculptural gems. Because some Chokwe people also reside in Congo’s Kwango stylistic zone (though the majority of them live in Angola), Manuel Jordán Perez was asked to provide information about the few ivory sculptures they made. Once again, the close collaboration of the Royal Museum of Central Africa was invaluable. Its immense holdings, archives, scientists, and dedicated staff allowed the editors to include never-before-seen ivory objects that were made in the region between the Congolese Kwango and Kasai Rivers.
Wild Beads of Africa. Old Powderglass Beads from the Collection of Billy Steinberg - (ENGLISH)
This gorgeous, heavily illustrated volume is the first book dedicated to the rare nineteenth-century powderglass beads often referred to as Bodom or akoso. Made in Ghana and used by the Asante and Krobo peoples, these beads are worn both as magical talismans and as visible symbols of wealth and prestige. In his introductory essay, noted bead authority Jamey D. Allen offers new insights into the art and technology of powderglass beadmaking, and his extensive glossary of related bead history, manufacture, and classification provides valuable detail. Stunning new photography by Fredrik Nilsen showcases one of the world’s premier bead collections, assembled by renowned songwriter Billy Steinberg. A short foreword is provided by John and Ruth Picard, themselves authors of many volumes on African beads. The beads are presented as full-page plates, with descriptive text as an appendix. The matte paper on which the book is printed is an unusual but effective choice, as it is in keeping with the surface of the beads and allows their bright but dusty tones to be accurately portrayed. For anyone interested in African beads, this publication is a must.