All the books reviews
Cameroon. Art and Kings - (ENGLISH)
This catalogue accompanies a superb exhibition devoted to the art of the Cameroonian Grassfields (see Tribal Art #47, Winter 2007/2008, pp. 68–75), which stands among the most important art ever produced in the area. The region of Cameroon known in the literature as the Grassfields gave rise to the court art of the Bamum kingdom and its elaborate beadwork. The northwestern province is well known for its masking traditions and royal figures, and the Bamileke area is identified with its expressive works, which are often adorned with colored beads. This important reference work on an artistic tradition that directly inspired Europe’s Expressionist movement and artists such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938) includes over 140 pieces, well selected from among the vast number of masterpieces in German ethnological collections. The book features full-page illustrations and object descriptions, as well as in situ pictures of the objects and the people who used them.
Carving Life Walrus. Ivory Carvings from the Bering Sea - (ENGLISH)
In Carving Life, Eleanor M. Imperato presents her personal journey into the world of the Alaska Inuit and, specifically, carvers of walrus ivory in Gambell on St. Lawrence Island, Shishmaref on Sarichef Island in the Chukchi Sea, and in the King Island community of Nome, Alaska. In her narrative, Imperato explains what she learned from her encounters: the meaning of living a subsistence lifestyle, the challenges of procuring ivory, the process of carving, and the reasons for doing so. With her words, she brings into sharp relief the lives, aspirations, and talents of some of the carvers she came to know, and with her photographs, she illuminates the land they call home. She provides stories of modern people who carve walrus ivory for local and distant audiences. The author also discusses in her text, as does Dr. Anne Millbrooke in her introduction, past and current outside influences that have and are altering a traditional way of life. The text is richly illustrated, as is the catalog section, which includes Alaska Inuit carvings in walrus ivory as well as bone and caribou antler. By way of comparison, the author includes many ivory, bone, and soapstone sculptures that represent the Inuit of Greenland and Canada. The bibliography is extensive. The book was published to accompany an exhibit by the same name at the QCC Art Gallery, City University of New York, which was held from October 18, 2017, until January 17, 2018.
Casas Grandes and the Ceramic Art of the Ancient Southwest - (ENGLISH)
In the flourishing ancient communities of the American Southwest and northern Mexico, master potters created ceramic arts that are considered among the most accomplished in the world. The symbolic imagery and distinctive local styles of the region are unmistakable. This lavishly illustrated book focuses on the ceramic traditions of the Casas Grandes region of northwestern Mexico, which flourished around the ancient site of Paquimé around AD 1280–1450. Eighty examples of this form are illustrated along with sixty pieces from elsewhere in the Southwest, demonstrating relationships. The book is the catalogue for an upcoming exhibition, which will be held in April 2006 at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Catalogue Parcours des mondes 2015 - (FRENCH)
The catalogue of Parcours des Mondes 2015 will be on sale as from August 15, 2015 at the rate of $25 on our website. The catalogue has been published in Belgium in August 2015: 200 pages and more than 150 color illustrations.
Ceintures ethniques d'Afrique, d'Asie, d'Océanie et des Amériques - (FRENCH)
After a series of four books on the ethnic rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas, this book, the most recent to be devoted to the remarkable Ghysels collection of ethnic jewelry, focuses on the belts and cache-sexes that decorate the most intimate parts of the body. In addition to their obvious practical function, the author explores concepts of shame, propriety, and sexuality in non-Western societies. While Africa and Oceania produce the most original cache-sexes, both in terms of forms and materials used, Asian, Indian, and the North African cultures produce the most sumptuous and elaborate belts. In addition to its 200 captioned illustrations, this work includes a glossary, an index, maps, and a general bibliography. Author Anne Leurquin is an art historian and professor of art history and ethnology at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
Chine, dans les monts de la Lune Chez les Miao du Sud-Ouest - (FRENCH)
With little arable land, and truncated into tiny valleys separated by strange and craggy mountains, the Mountains of the Moon, a name given to the Guizhou province area of southwestern China, is such a remote region that the Middle Empire preferred using it as a place of exile rather than conquering it. Guizhou is home to many ethnic minority groups who resisted the cultural hegemony of the Han and were able to do so thanks to the natural bastions their territory provided. They preferred self-sufficiency to assimilation, and the Mountains of the Moon became a kind of conservatory of their traditions, which today still offers a glimpse of the eternal China. This book is devoted to the way of life and the traditions of the Miao, one of the area's distinct ethnic groups. Season after season, Philippe Fatin photographically documented the cultural reality of a people that worships its ancestors as benevolent spirit guardians, and knows no other calendar than that of the cycles of the moon. Catherine Bourzat, the author of the text, has a background in Asian studies. Fatin's photographs will be on view until May 2005 at the Musee des Arts Asiatiques de Nice, as part of an exhibition titled De Fil et d'Argent, Memoires des Miao de Chine, in which sinologist Catherine Bourzat is also participating.
Civilisations des Arts Premiers - (FRENCH)
This is a magnificent work. Richly illustrated with some 650 images, this impressive volume juxtaposes masterpieces, mainly from the collection of the Musee du Quai Branly, with early photographs taken by late nineteenth-century explorers and travelers. Thus contextualized, the aesthetic and religious dimensions of masks, sculptures, musical instruments, ritual and everyday objects, jewelry, and ornaments from Africa, Oceania, Asia, and the Americas are fully revealed. Upon seeing the faces of the people who designed these objects with devotion and love, one senses the untouched, living soul of civilizations which have been trapped in the benevolent but misleading atemporality conferred by the "primitive" label. In addition to the content, the quality of the printing is exceptional as is its didactic structure, which is organized around major culture areas. This is both a valuable introduction for the neophyte and a visual delight for the connoisseur.
Clair-Obscur - (FRENCH)
Clair-Obscur (Chiaroscuro), which was produced in a limited edition of 222 copies, is the fruit of a daring commission by Galerie Schoffel-Valluet for the work of Jean-Francois Chavanne—daring because the photographer is much better known for his portraits, landscapes, and still lifes. Produced on the occasion of the 2008 Par-cours des Mondes, the book features fifty-six photographs of tribal art works, lit with soft but precise light that emphasizes relief lines while preserving each object's mysterious aura. This homogeneous treatment results in a strong unity of presentation despite the diversity of objects. And the pieces certainly are diverse, ranging from a Dan mask to a pair of Mangbetu knives collected by Lieutenant Demuenynck in the Belgian Congo in the first years of the nineteenth century, by way of a Sepik necklace, a creamily transparent Mexican twelfth- to thirteenth-century onyx urn, and a tenth-century Bamana statue of a pregnant woman. The emotion these works evoke relates them to one another, just as much as the background they are shown against or the subtlety of the desaturated color palette. Although entirely removed from their context, the works nonetheless retain their intrinsic power. The photographer has captured the essence of these ritual pieces, and has done so with a view of them that is simultaneously poetic and contemporary. The result is akin to an intimate dialogue with the artworks. A signed and numbered heliogravure completes the portfolio, which is presented in an elegant black slipcase, also signed.
Coaxing the Spirits to Dance: Art and Society in the Papuan Gulf of New Guinea - (ENGLISH)
Another beautiful accompaniment to one of the many exceptional exhibitions that have traveled and been featured across the country recently, this catalogue takes a slightly different approach than many. The images and object photos interact with the text, rather than having a “secluded” catalogue section. The essays delve into a variety of topics following years of research and extensive collaboration between the Hood Museum of Art and the National Museum and Art Gallery in Papua New Guinea. The many photographs in the catalogue show the artifacts individually as art pieces, though throughout they are juxtaposed with images depicting cultural and anthropological aspects of their early life and how they were worn and/or used by the people who created them. After its run at the Hood Museum of Art (through September 17), the exhibition moves to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (October 24, 2006–September 2, 2007), so those who didn’t make it to the Hood can still see it, although it will be in a somewhat different form.
Collecting Tribal Art: How Northwest Coast Masks and Easter Island Lizard Men Become Tribal Art - (ENGLISH)
Written by two professors emeriti of anthropology, one from Barnard College and one from Columbia University, this small book delves into the peculiar anthropology of the tribal art market, from collectors to dealers to museums. It traces how tribal art moved from something once believed to have been created by quasi mythical beings to being seen as powerful sculpture that inspired modernist artists, including a discussion of why African art appealed to Cubists and Oceanic and American Indian art was more attractive for Dadaists and Surrealists. It looks at the many different incarnations of collecting, from self-diagnosed sickness to sweeping acts of public beneficence, and it peeks behind the veil at some of the vagaries and contradictions of the art market. The authors’ analysis is detailed and thorough. You may not always agree with their conclusions, but you’ll enjoy the debate.