"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.
Twenty years after its creation, New Zealand’s Te Papa Tongarewa Museum will inaugurate a major new gallery space called "Toi Art.Turangawaewae: Art and New Zealand" is one of the four inaugural exhibitions that will christen the space. It will bring together nearly 100 pieces drawn from the museum’s collections and dating from the eighteenth century to modern times, augmented with works by other contemporary artists, both Maori and from other parts of the Pacific. The show seeks to address issues of “Who are the New Zealanders, and where do they come from as individuals, as New Zealanders, and as a nation?” It not only questions notions of belonging to this land, but it offers different visions of the ways in which art can help New Zealanders find their place. Turangawaewae identifies the communities, loci, and ideas central to the sense of belonging. Through painting, sculpture, and photography, it explores the questions of art, identity, and intercultural exchange. New Zealand artists represented include Rita Angus, Colin McCahon, Shane Cotton, Gottfried Lindauer, Len Lye, and Robyn Kahukiwa.
Hugo Pratt, skylines
Like his protagonist, Corto Maltese, Italian cartoonist Hugo Pratt was an avid and enthusiastic traveler. His drawings are replete with references to his trips. "Hugo Pratt, lignes d’horizon" explores the places that were dear to him, from the “Great Ocean” to the “Great North” by way of “Amazonia,” the “People of the Sun,” “Africa,” and the “Indians.” The first part of the exhibition features his original drawings, shown in conjunction with the cultural artifacts that enriched his visual universe. The latter are drawn from the museum's collection, augmented by loans from other institutions. The second part is an immersive experience into the artist’s imagination using graphics and sound. Recurring themes in his work, such as trance states and music, shamanism and divination, and signs and symbols, are explored. Another interesting part of this exhibition features two headdresses, one from the Great Plains of the United States and another from Ethiopia, given to the Musée des Confluences by collector Antoine de Galbert. His donation included more than 500 pieces of this kind, complemented by a few full costumes. After being inventoried, studied, and, in some cases, restored, the collection will be the subject of an exhibition in 2019.
Inca Dress Code
The Musée du Cinquantenaire has ambitious plans for September, when it will open an exhibition devoted to a relatively little-considered yet fundamental form of Pre-Columbian art: the textile. While the colonials sought gold and collectors have coveted sculpture, the Andean peoples of pre-contact times valued above all else the work of weavers and feather artists, who produced beautiful garments and ornaments loaded with iconographic symbols. Mummies were adorned with them, figures were dressed in them, and meticulous care was taken in the choice of their colors and designs, as well as in the details of their manufacture. The Inca Dress Code exhibition examines all aspects of this art form, from the choice of raw materials to the perseverance of these traditions over time, and it explains the significance of various designs while providing a chronological and historical account of the less well-known Andean peoples, who preceded the famous Inca. From November 23, 2018, through March 24, 2019, nearly two hundred objects from some of the greatest collections will be brought together for this event. In addition to those from the Musée du Cinquantenaire’s own holdings, works on view will include many major pieces from the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, the Linden-Museum in Stuttgart, and the MAS in Antwerp.
Made in Africa
Africa is an immense and extremely varied continent that is too often referred to as a single entity. Its 30 million square kilometers are home to more than fifty countries, and the reductionist and inaccurate notion that they can all be lumped together is what the Made in Africa exhibition at the Grassi Museum für Völkerkunde seeks to dispel. On view until September 30, 2018, It offers a teeming presentation of designs and inspiring creations from all over the continent, with an emphasis on the utilitarian objects of daily life. The brilliant creativity that African artists and craftspeople evince goes beyond their borders, and the things they produce find their way into all facets of Western life. The exhibition strives to trace origins and honor the autochthonous and avant-garde creators, whose work is a far cry from the factories that churn out the prefabricated objects we associate with the “Made in China” label.
Beyond Compare: African Art at the Bode Museum
Beginning on October 27, 2017, the Bode Museum
will present a “conversation between continents”
with an exhibition that features more than seventy African
sculptures from the collection of the Berlin Museum
of Ethnology. Beyond Compare sets up a dialog between
objects from Central and West Africa and masterpieces
from Byzantium, Italy, and central Europe. The exhibition
intends to create new interactions that highlight
unexpected similarities as well as differences between
artworks from unrelated traditions. More than thirty juxtapositions
illustrate major themes in human existence
such as power, death, beauty, memory, aesthetics, and
identity. On view through spring 2019, this show goes
beyond the mere comparison of sculptural traditions to
open interesting new perspectives.
More info here: http://www.tribalartmagazine.com/issue-87-sample-4
Secret: Who Is Allowed to Know What
The common thread that runs through a Murano glass bracelet, a heartshaped love letter, a Sande society mask from Sierra Leone or Liberia, and a kalengula mask from the DRC is that they each hold a well-kept secret. In "Le secret. Qui a le droit de savoir quoi" ("Secret: Who Is Allowed to Know What"), the Museum der Kulturen in Basel explores this subject through the presentation of a variety of objects in its collection, revealing the stories they conceal. Whether intended to establish borders between initiates and strangers, to ensure power and control, to imperil those who might divulge it, to arouse curiosity, or to seduce, the secret is explored here in all of its forms.
Dimensions of power
In the past, African art was often tied into the ways in which African leaders promoted their agendas. Royalty and rulers used art to project their authority, religious groups promoted their faiths, and the wealthy displayed their riches. Ordinary Africans also used art to enable them to wield their own forms of power. Since supernatural forces were thought to play a large role in determining events, it was important to own objects that could withstand or shape events that lay beyond ordinary control. Reflecting these themes, fifty-nine outstanding works from the collection of the Snite Museum at the University of Notre Dame have been brought together in a reinstallation of the permanent African gallery under the title Dimensions of Power. Together the artworks illustrate these concepts through themes of economic, political, social, and spiritual power in Africa. Most of the works have never before been on public view, and nearly a third belong to the Owen D. Mort Jr. Collection, which is composed of art primarily from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Mort worked for many years. The reinstallation was curated by Visiting Curator of African Art Elizabeth Morton, who also authored an illustrated catalog of the collection.
New acquisitions at LACMA
Each year since 1986, the Collectors Committee of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) holds a fundraiser that results in the acquisition of several artworks for the collection. This year’s event was a two-day affair that included curator-led art presentations, private dinners at the homes of major LACMA supporters, and a gala dinner where members voted on artworks to add to the museum’s permanent collection. The ninety-six voting members raised more than $3.1 million and expended it on ten items or groups of items. Two of these augment the museum’s quietly but significantly growing collection of African art. Following this meeting, a monumental Ijo forest spirit fi gure from Nigeria, one of the most imposing and expressive of all known examples of its type, is now part of LACMA’s permanent collection. It was the centerpiece of Tradition as Innovation in African Art at LACMA in 2008, and with its seven heads and fourteen eyes, it now underscores the multiplicity of visions that LACMA embodies and imparts. The second acquisition is a collection of twenty-nine Mbuti barkcloth paintings from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Painted by women, these delicate artworks emphasize asymmetry and visual dissonance that simultaneously mimics the imagery of the Ituri rainforest where the Mbuti live and aligns with the syncopated polyphonic rhythms of their music. This collection is a fi tting counterpoint for the museum’s strong collection of Kuba cut-pile prestige textiles, itself a gift of the Collectors Committee in 2009.