Paintings from Afar
“Dare to look in order to learn” could have been the subtitle for the Peintures des Lointains (Paintings from Afar) exhibition at the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, on view on the West Mezzanine until January 6, 2019. Sarah Ligner, who has been head of the Historic and Contemporary Globalization Heritage Unit at the museum since 2015 and is the curator of this show, has chosen to highlight the museum’s collection of paintings for the fi rst time. This installation presents 220 canvases and works on paper drawn from the approximately 500 works that constitute the museum’s holdings in this fi eld. These pieces date from between the end of the eighteenth and the middle of the twentieth centuries and have been little seen, despite the fact that they include works by artists of great renown such as Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, and Émile Bernard, to name just a few.
Africa. The Religions of Ecstasy
A comprehensive temporary exhibition at the Musée d’Ethnographie in Geneva will examine the many and varied religions, past and present, of the African continent. Beginning on May 18, 2018, "Afrique. Les religions de l’extase" ("Africa. The Religions of Ecstasy") will present nearly 400 pieces, most hitherto unseen, from the MEG’s collection. Ethnographic objects, photographs, filmed interviews, and video installations will be used to illustrate the dynamism of the diversity of the forms of worship in Africa, as well as those in Europe and the Americas where religious practices were disseminated through the diaspora. The Religions of Ecstasy will be an immersive experience in magical and mystical ambience. Here religion hinges on the connections between living and invisible beings. The show’s common thread is religious ecstasy— losing oneself in the quest for communion and connection with the sacred world. The show will be divided into four parts: monotheistic religions, “fundamental” autochthonous African religions, possession cults, and the magico-religious African universes. Contemporary photographs will illustrate the fervor of worshippers during rituals or pilgrimages, and videos will examine and explain their perspectives.
Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher have been capturing striking images of Africa for decades. Their most recent project, African Twilight: Vanishing Rituals & Ceremonies, once again presents the remarkable beauty and magic of traditional cultures on the brink of irreversible change. On July 7, 2018, the Bowers Museum will present the world premiere of a stunning exhibition featuring eighty-five photographs and fifteen films covering the last fifteen years of Beckwith and Fisher’s work in more than forty-five African nations. Their images capture the continent’s vast cultural diversity while documenting profound moments of commonality in the human life cycle, including unique initiation ceremonies, colorful courtship rituals, the splendor of power in royal kingdoms, and intimate healing practices for the living and the dead. African Twilight is organized by Photokunst and will be on view at the Bowers until January 6, 2019, after which it will travel to other venues. A large-format book will be published by Rizzoli in October 2018.
Neanderthal: the exhibit
Neither merely a fossil or wild inferior being, Neanderthal was for a long time an underestimated species by his modern successor: Homo Sapiens, us. In order to help them regain some prestige, the Musée de l’Homme has prepared an exhibition honouring this long-gone species. After treading upon the Earth for more than 350 000 years, Neanderthals could teach us a lot about adapting to change at a time where we have to face major climatic changes ourselves. The exhibition tries to place Homo neandertalensis in his own environment, habitat as well as in his place in the history of Evolution. The museum has produced an educative exhibition that is very attached to virtual mediums and life-size reproductions. However, art does not completely surrender its place to science and the exhibit also shows the cultural side of our ancestors—from sculpting bones or creating jewellery to making stone tools. Finally, the exhibition offers a sociological approach to observe and discover the perceptions we had of Neanderthals for the past centuries. The exhibit will be also presented in Montpellier as well as at the Canadian museum of history, in Gatineau.
Exposition historique présentée au Honolulu Museum of Art, Ho‘oulu: The King Kalakaua Era s’intéresse à l’art et à l’expérimentation à Hawaï sous le règne du roi David Kalakaua (1874-1891). Ancré dans les valeurs du royaume, le cosmopolitisme – concept selon lequel les entités politiques locales s’inscrivent dans la communauté mondiale, et non dans leur seule partie d’origine – se traduisait notamment dans l’art. Les Hawaïens ont développé un langage visuel mêlant art et politique, caractérisé par des reproductions locales d’expressions artistiques mondiales. Ils ont renforcé une culture visuelle existante au moyen d’une combinaison de matériaux, concepts et techniques indigènes et venus d’ailleurs. L’exposition présente des oeuvres d’art expérimentales aux côtés d’oeuvres académiques afin d’analyser comment l’art d’avant-garde et l’art classique ont contribué à façonner une identité nationale. Composés par des pièces du musée et de nombreux prêts, elle soulève en outre des questions liées à l’adaptabilité, à l’économie et à la vie religieuse tout en se penchant sur la perception que l’on avait d’Hawaï dans le monde au XIXe siècle. L’exposition est accompagnée d’un superbe catalogue et d’une série d’événements organisés par la PA‘I Foundation.
In the vast and culturally diverse Congolese region of Central Africa, masks function as performance objects in rituals, ceremonies, worship, and entertainment. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will present an exhibition on this wide-ranging subject titled Congo Masks: Masterpieces from Central Africa. More than 140 striking Congolese masks featured in the show together form an innovative and visually compelling display that represents the artisans and performers who brought them to life, as well as varied communities, belief systems, and natural resources. Dating from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, the works are drawn from some of the finest and most comprehensive collections in private hands, and more than a dozen examples are presented with their complete ceremonial ensembles. The exhibition also includes original field photographs, field footage, audio recordings, and a selection of related musical instruments. Its immersive multimedia design, presenting eleven distinct regional styles of masks, evokes the diversity of ecosystems and cultures of the immense Congo. The exhibition is curated by Marc Leo Felix, director of the Congo Basin Art History Research Center in Brussels, Belgium. It is accompanied by a substantial catalog published by Yale University Press with contributions by a variety of notable experts in the field.
A world of feathers
The feather is being seen in all of its forms in A World of Feathers, the exhibition currently at the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen in the Netherlands, which has already been seen in Gothenburg and will finish its tour at the Världskulturmuseerna in Stockholm from October 6, 2018, through March 3, 2019. The show examines this light, fragile, and eye-catching material that continues to fascinate both artists and audiences with its infinite possibilities. The often dazzlingly colored feather, a symbol of freedom and freshness, has been used as an ornament by the native peoples of North America, the Amazon, and Papua New Guinea. Feathers are still widely used today in performances of all kinds, ranging from rituals to fashion shows. They can also be instruments of power and objects of great value. The feather, whose beauty is often proportional to its rarity, has had symbolic and monetary significance among many peoples. Native American power headdresses, feather hats from equatorial regions, and complete feather outfits from Cameroon are all pieces featured in this colorful exhibition that offers an aesthetic experience which crosses oceans and continents as it highlights and explores the universality of a material that can be both decorative and sacred.
Face to Face
A new long-term exhibition opening at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology on March 10, 2018, poses the questions “Why and how do crafting traditions of the world so often incorporate human faces” and “how do people respond to those faces?” "Face to Face: Looking at Objects That Look at You presents answers to these questions formulated through a wide variety of contrasting objects drawn from the museum’s vast holdings. For example, West African helmet masks and Roman sculptures illustrate varying conceptions of the “ideal” face, while Japanese tobacco boxes and ancient Peruvian portrait jars raise the question of what a facial expression can mean. Chinese bamboo figurines paired with Caroline Mytinger’s paintings of Papua New Guineans represent the contrast between portraying faces of one’s own cultural group versus those of another. This timely exhibit, which cultivates critical thinking about crucial issues such as stereotyping, representation and misrepresentation, and snap judgments, was produced by the Hearst staff working with fourteen UC Berkeley students.
"Collecting Stories: Native American Art" explores the range of perspectives, motivations, and voices involved in building the early holdings of Native American art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The exhibition focuses on objects collected in the formative years after 1876—the year the museum opened its doors to the public. Many of these works of art were donated by leaders of the MFA and members of New England intellectual circles who traveled to the Great Plains and Southwest, often inspired by period notions of “authentic” Indian life. Highlights include an early Navajo (Diné) wearing blanket dating from 1840–60, a pair of important Eastern Woodlands moccasins from the early nineteenth century, and a Plains roach, or headpiece, made of deer and porcupine hair around 1880–85. "Collecting Stories" also examines how Euro-Americans encountered and represented Native Americans in the late nineteenth century, illuminating some of the historical and political contexts within which the MFA’s collection developed.
Summoning the ancestors
The Fowler Museum at UCLA is planning an exhibition highlighting Nigerian ritual metalwork. Titled Summoning the Ancestors: Southern Nigerian Bronzes, this exhibition features the promised gift of approximately 150 bronze bells and ofos amassed by Southern California collector Mark Clayton. It underscores the power of large-scale collections to demonstrate variations of technique and symbolism within a single genre. Grouped by style rather than geographic area or cultural association, the bells and ofos have a broad —seemingly infinite—range of designs accomplished by Igala, Igbo, and other regional metalsmiths using the lost-wax casting technique. The bells include examples large and small, richly adorned or spare in profile, and some that even stretch ideas of what a bell can be. The ofos derive from wooden staffs of power. Summoning the Ancestors is guest curated by Nancy Neaher Maas, independent scholar, and Philip M. Peek, professor emeritus of anthropology, Drew University, New Jersey.