Monday, June 21, 2010

African Art: Beyond the Modernist Lens

Mask (mukudj), 20th c.
Punu peoples, Gabon
Wood, pigment, 10 1⁄2 x 5 1⁄2 x 9 1⁄2 inches
Gift of Bob Bronson, 1977.58.6

African Art
Beyond the Modernist Lens
August 14 - December 23
at the University of Virginia Art Museum

Derived from the Museum’s growing collection of African art, the exhibition African Art: Beyond the Modernist Lens examines the way African art is currently perceived and displayed in Western museum settings.

Once considered fetishes, African traditional sculptures were displayed in 20th century galleries, arranged alongside European and American products in a manner that emphasized their artistic qualities rather than their local meaning and use. The exhibition suggests that such early displays often influenced the collection of certain types of African objects, particularly those that appealed to Western notions of artistic elegance, abstract form, and exotic appearance. However, these standards had very little to do with African aesthetic values that are expressed in ritual and quotidian objects alike. African craftsman used these prescribed concepts of beauty and associated motifs to create objects that express both a

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