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Displaying items by tag: African Art

Tuesday, 15 September 2015 12:19

The Met Spotlights Kongo Art

In this Kingdom of Kongo, they make fabrics with a nap like velvet, some of them worked in velvety satin, so beautiful that nothing finer is made in Italy,” wrote the Portuguese explorer Duarte Pacheco Pereira, one of the first but certainly not the last European to wax ecstatic over the sumptuous artistic production of the political power that ruled over the vast territory that today includes part of the Republic of Congo, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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They seem to breathe, these 12 20th-century African masks, and to look at us with the same bold curiosity with which we examine them.

A few have birds nesting in their wooden and metal hair. Two others rise above long tangles of raffia. One artist even etched a pair of spectacles onto her mask.

Despite the charming touches, the masks are undeniably powerful and even frightening.

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When a dozen weather-worn wood sculptures from southeastern Nigeria debuted in a Paris gallery in 1974, they were radically different from any African art that had been exhibited in the West. After that brief assembly, the carved Mbembe figures mostly retreated from public view to private collections, excepting one on proud view in the Louvre. "Warriors and Mothers: Epic Mbembe Art" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art now reunites those works from the 17th to 19th centuries for the first time since the 1974 Paris exhibition.

The sculptures — originally part of massive drums used to communicate between Mbembe communities — remain as enigmatic as they were in 1972 when gallery owner and art dealer Hélène Kamer acquired them from a Malian dealer named O. Traoré.

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Everything but the kitchen sink would be one way to describe the staggering array of possessions owned by Lauren Bacall that go under the hammer in New York next week.

From fine art to kitchenware, from avant garde to the kitsch: hundreds of items collected and loved by the Hollywood siren go on sale Tuesday and Wednesday at Bonhams auction house.

The collection is nothing if not eclectic. It includes jewelry and clothes, Aboriginal and African art, English and French furniture and items bought in antique shops around the world.

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Before it was located on the National Mall and was still an independent museum on Capitol Hill, the Museum of African Art included both African and African-American art in its collection. That changed in 1979, when it became the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, focused on Africa, not the American diaspora. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the museum, and to celebrate it the museum has returned to its roots, supplementing its own collection with works by African-American artists in the collection of Camille and William Cosby, Jr.

Yes, that Bill Cosby.

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She was married to Humphrey Bogart. Shot films with the likes of John Wayne and Paul Newman. And over her long career racked up a pair of Tony Awards and an honorary Oscar. But if there was one figure who made screen legend Lauren Bacall weak in the knees it was British sculptor Henry Moore. 

Bacall, who passed away in August, was a longtime art collector, who amassed hundreds of artworks. Her tastes were broad and wide-ranging and her collection included African art and Pablo Picasso. But the actress had special affinity for works by Moore, whom she began collecting in the 1950s and first met in person in the mid-1970s.

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The Saint Louis Art Museum will present a free exhibition presenting new works by artist Nick Cave, the Missouri native who has captivated audiences with artworks spanning sculpture, fashion, installation and performance.

The exhibition, "Currents 109: Nick Cave," opens Oct. 31 and runs through March 8, 2015. The exhibition will include installations in Galleries 249 and 250 in the museum’s new East Building; a new media installation in Gallery 301; and an intervention in Gallery 102, a large gallery devoted to historical African art.

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After amassing a private collection of African-American Art over four decades, Bill Cosby and his wife Camille plan to showcase their holdings for the first time in an exhibition planned at the Smithsonian Institution.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art announced Monday that the entire Cosby collection will go on view in November in a unique exhibit juxtaposing African-American art with African art.

The collection, which will be loaned to the museum, includes works by such leading African-American artists as Beauford Delaney, Faith Ringgold, Jacob Lawrence, Augusta Savage and Henry Ossawa Tanner. The Cosby collection of more than 300 African-American paintings, prints, sculptures and drawings has never been loaned or seen publicly, except for one work of art.

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On 11 November 2014 Sotheby’s New York will present "In Pursuit of Beauty: The Myron Kunin Collection of African Art" in a single owner sale of approximately 190 lots, estimated to fetch $20-30 million. Assembled by Myron Kunin, whose Regis Corporation incorporates over 10,000 salons worldwide including brands from Supercuts to Vidal Sassoon and Jean-Louis David, the collection is considered to be among the finest private groups of non-western art in the world. The outstanding highlight of the sale will be The Senufo Female Statue (Deble), Ivory Coast, one of the most iconic and widely-published works of African Art (Estimate upon request). The pre-sale exhibition opens in New York on 8 November with highlights being shown in Paris from 9-22 September.

Heinrich Schweizer, Head of Sotheby’s African and Oceanic Art Department, recalls: “Myron Kunin was one of the most passionate, knowledgeable, and uncompromising collectors I have ever met. He had the rare ability to identify the very best artworks, irrespective of culture or time-period, and then the courage and unwavering commitment to do whatever it took to acquire them. The result was a world-class collection that stands as one of the finest ever assembled in the field of African Art.”

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First, there was light. Then, a night sky filled with stars and a luminescent moon. Soon after? Art.

Since ancient times, communities have used art to relay stories and make sense of the world around them — particularly when interpreting the heavens and giving form to perceived deities ruling the forces of nature.

A new exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, "African Cosmos: Stellar Arts," showcases 40 rare objects in gold, silver, bronze, stone, beads and wood that collectively illustrate the history of African cultural astronomy, from ancient Egypt to the present day.

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