All the books reviews
Bambous Kanak - (FRENCH)
This catalog accompanies an exhibition on view at the Ethnography Museum of Geneva through January 4, 2009, featuring twenty-nine examples of New Caledonian engraved bamboos from the museum’s collection, including twenty-five old examples and four recent works created by Micheline Néporon. The object descriptions are largely the result of analysis and research of Marguerite Lobsiger-Dellenbach, director of the museum from 1952 until 1967. The bamboos, called karè e ta, are unique among the artworks of New Caledonia. Their main function was to serve as a record of important events that were part of the local oral tradition, but they could also be used as containers for protective magical substances or herbs, and were carried during voyages. These mnemonic aids are covered with abstract as well as figural designs, and illustrate many aspects of native life as well as the upheavals caused by French colonization, which began in 1853. The production of bamboos ceased around 1917, but a number of New Caledonian artists are reviving this form of expression. Micheline Néporon is among them, and the museum recently acquired four examples of her work.
Barabaig. Life, Love, and Death on Tanzania’s Hanang - (ENGLISH)
As part of his doctoral studies at the Institute of Development Studies, Charles Lane lived among the Barabaig, a group of nomadic cattle herders in north central Tanzania. This was the beginning of a lifelong relationship, and his new book elaborates on this extraordinary experience. He explains here why the Barabaig had a propensity to steal cattle and practice “ritual murder.” Despite this, he found them to be generous and caring companions, giving him his own cattle and sharing all aspects of their lives. However, their reputation has led them to be widely feared and disliked by administrators and neighbors, thereby contributing to the seizure of much of their lands and abuse of their rights. In response to the many challenges faced by the Barabaig, Lane helped them mount a legal case against the loss of their lands and conducted an international campaign in defense of their human rights. Illustrated with photographs by Lane, this beautiful book shows the Barabaig’s artistry in many facets of their lives.
Batak Sculpture - (ENGLISH)
This exceptionally beautiful book has been long anticipated by art collectors and dealers. Maintaining a tight focus on Batak art rather than the overall culture of Indonesia, it fills a longstanding need for a publication that can fully capture, present, and shed light on the magnificent art of this area. The book is divided according to clear categories of Batak sculpture, such as magic staffs, medicine containers, architectural sculptures, weapons, and masks, to name just a few. The finely detailed carving, delicate lines, and intricate expressions of many of these objects are faithfully captured through the photography of Eky Tandyo. The presentation of objects from multiple angles does justice to the variety and distinctiveness of this remarkable art. Batak Sculpture is a unique and magnificent book, and its publication could not be more welcome.
Bismarck Archipelago Art - (ENGLISH / FRENCH)
While the art of New Ireland has been the subject of several fine works, including the 2007 publication Nouvelle-Irlande, Arts du Pacifique Sud, a quality monograph on the larger area to which this island belongs has long been needed. This exciting new book fills that void with an in-depth examination of the artistic production—masks, figures, ornaments, etc., many of a very ephemeral nature from the vast archipelago whose main components are New Ireland, New Britain, The Admiralty Islands,and the Western Islands. The work is remarkable both for the beauty of the objects themselves and for the excellent presentation they are given. It distinguishes itself further by the fact that it strikes a good balance between factual accuracy and a somewhat poetic approach, which the authors’ individual perspectives are very much a part of. There are four extensively documented chapters. The first, by Klaus-Jochen Krüger, gives an account of the collecting activities of early colonials, explorers, and researchers. The second tells the story of Bart van Bussel’s travels through Oceania in a journal style. In the third chapter, Kevin Conru gives an account of how a fascination with the art of the Bismarck Archipelago influenced the artists of the avant-garde. This is a fascinating study, which this magazine previewed with a synopsis in the autumn 2013 edition. Lastly, a comprehensive text by Ingrid Heermann, senior curator of the Oceanic art department at Stuttgart’s Linden Museum, provides a great deal of valuable information on the area’s artistic traditions. This beautiful book is a must for any tribal art library.
Black Womanhood : Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body - (ENGLISH)
Accompanying an exhibition at The Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, Black Womanhood further explores the historical ideas and stereotypes regarding African women and African female body image. With a focus on topics such as identity and race, the book and exhibit examine the ways in which African women have been depicted in media such as postcards, sculptures, and photographs. The catalogue features illustrations of the exhibition’s objects as well as essays discussing a number of topics, including the Mammy figure and Mangbetu women. Black Womanhood juxtaposes traditional and contemporary art to contrast and compare the depictions of the African female body, past and present.
Blanket Weaving in the Southwest - (ENGLISH)
This long-awaited volume represents years of research and analysis by the late author in an effort to create a classification scheme for southwestern textiles that accurately reflects their history and composition. The intent was to root this in scientific analysis and hard documentation, and eschew the folk wisdom and half-remembered histories that has long permeated this field. The work was nearly complete at the time of Wheat’s death in 1997, and it has now been finished and augmented by Hedlund. The result is impressive, to say the least. Nearly 150 pages of introduction take the reader through a highly organized and thorough series of studies of fibers and yarns, colors, raveled materials (bayeta), weaving systems, weaves, and design elements. This is followed by 200 pages of specific textiles, each on its own page with a color illustration, history, description, and analysis of warp, weft, and yarn. The textiles illustrated are from a wide variety of museum and anthropological collections, and many have never before been published. This is an essential work for southwestern textile study and one that creates a new standard for future publications in the field.
Blue Winds Dancing: The Whitecloud Collection of Native American Art - (ENGLISH)
Mercedes and Dr. Thomas St. Germain Whitecloud III started collecting Native American art in the late 1960s and, over the following four decades, their collection grew to well over 400 objects. This catalogue was published to accompany an exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art (see the Art on View section of this issue), which was initially planned to open in 2005 but was postponed because of the Katrina catastrophe. More than 100 objects from this beautiful collection have been photographed for this volume and are beautifully presented, accompanied by informative descriptive text. Many of the objects have been donated or are promised gifts to the New Orleans Museum.
Bogolan: Shaping Culture through Cloth in Contemporary Mali - (ENGLISH)
Focusing on a single Malian textile identified variously as bogolanfini, bogolan, or mudcloth, this book traces the technical and stylistic innovations that have transformed the cloth from its village origins into a symbol of new internationalism. The distinctive technique used to manufacture these textiles allows for dramatic, intricately worked paintings, garments, and a wide range of other products that are aimed at both Malian and non-Malian consumers. It reflects many aspects of contemporary culture in sub-Saharan Africa, while also casting light on the global markets in which African art circulates. Bogolan has become a symbol of national and ethnic identities, an element of contemporary urban fashion, and a lucrative product for tourist art markets. This book examines these textiles from all of these facets and also discusses perspectives on the artists who create them.
Boomerang Collection - (ENGLISH)
Unique in its conception, this work is destined to be an important reference. Using the boomerang’s rich iconography, the author—one of the leading specialists in boomerangs—studies this mysterious object in all its aspects (ludic, artistic, literary, cinematographic, athletic, and scientific) to discover the secret of its “return effect." The book discusses a multitude of boomerangs with diverse forms and adornments, which are often surprising. It also brings in many objects related to the boomerang. This book engenders appreciation of an object possessed of exceptional characteristics. It contains information about such subjects as “where to find rare objects” and “how to meet collectors and make trades.” Art, aesthetics, and meaning are three themes developed by the author of this beautiful art book. Each object addressed is accompanied by either old or contemporary visual documentation to allow better understanding of its historical context. More than thirty respected scholars contributed to the composition of the captions that accompany each of the one hundred objects included.
Bronzes d'Afrique de la Volta au Bandama - (FRENCH)
This fine work is personal, aesthetic, and intriguing, and it is the fruit of a collaboration between Max Itzikovitz, Bertrand Coy, and Hughes Dubois, all of whom are passionately interested in the subject. As Itzikovitz states in the preface, the book is the result of aesthetic research and an aficionado's approach (rather than that of a collector) in the true sense of the term, and is above all an homage to the blacksmiths and goldsmiths of the Akan, Lorhon, Koulongo, and Gan. Most of the objects, splendidly photographed and presented by Hughes Dubois, are from Itzikovitz's collection, although some belong to other collectors such as Mina and Samir Borro. Goy penned the informative text, which is enhanced by many fascinating references to history and art. Of particular interest is information on the first missionaries who photographically documented the gold economy among the Ashanti.