Monday, September 26, 2011

"Heroic" collectors?

Heroic Africans
Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures
Metropolitan Museum of Art
September 21, 2011–January 29, 2012
This major international loan exhibition challenges conventional perceptions of African art. Bringing together more than one hundred masterpieces drawn from collections in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Portugal, France, and the United States, it considers eight landmark sculptural traditions from West and Central Africa created between the twelfth and early twentieth centuries in terms of the individual subjects who lie at the origins of the representations. [...]

The works featured are among the only tangible links that survive, relating to generations of leaders that shaped Africa's past before colonialism, [...]
The works come from a number of west and central African cultures: the Akan of Ghana, ancient Ife civilization and the Kingdom of Benin of Nigeria, Bangwa and Kom chiefdoms of the Cameroon Grassfields, the Chokwe of Angola and Zambia, and the Luluwa, Hemba, and Kuba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
sculptors from these regions captured evocative, idealized, and enduring likenesses of their individual patrons whose identities were otherwise recorded in ephemeral oral traditions.
This exhibition raises a number of questions about the presence of the objects themselves. Why are no African museums represented in the loans programme? Also if these works form a link with the past of the regions covered, why are they scattered in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Portugal, France, the UK and US?

Following the presentation at the Metropolitan, the exhibition will travel to the Museum Rietberg in Zurich, where it will be on view February 26 through June 3, 2012. There are no plans to show it in Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola, Zambia, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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