An extraordinary figure, the first 20th-century businesswoman, a self-made and emancipated woman, a visionary... There is no shortage of superlatives to describe the incredible rise to fame of Helena Rubinstein (1870-1965), dubbed the Empress of beauty by Cocteau, but her role as an experienced collector and a pioneer in the recognition of African and Oceanic arts in Europe and North America is often overlooked. Primarily amassed in Paris through her various encounters, "Madame’s collection", now dispersed, comprised over 400 pieces of non-European art including precious Kota and Fang reliquary guardians, exceptional Baoulé, Bamana, Senoufo and Dogon pieces. The exhibition places the spotlight on her passion for non-Western arts - primarily African art - through sixty pieces, as well as her fascination for their expressive intensity and character.
In collaboration with Haus der Kunst in Munich, the Kunstmuseum Bern is mounting a large-scale exhibition of the work of Ghanaian artist El Anatsui. He is arguably Africa’s most renowned contemporary artist and famous for his large sculptures of recycled bottle caps that decorate whole walls like magnificent tapestries. At the same time, the former metal bottle caps of liquor bottles reflect the (post-)colonial relationship between Europe, Africa and the New World. The exhibition focuses on the monumentality of El Anatsui's work and reveals how it developed out of his life-long passion for drawing, his wooden sculptures carved with chainsaws, and the ceramics he produced in the early years of his artistic career.
African Arts—Global Conversations puts African arts where they rightfully belong: within the global art historical canon. It brings those works into greater, meaningful art historical conversations and critiques previous ways that encyclopedic museums and the field of art have or have not included them. African Arts—Global Conversations presents thirty-three works, including twenty by African artists. Highlights include a celebrated eighteenth-century Kuba sculpture, fourteenth- to sixteenth-century Ethiopian Orthodox processional crosses, and a mid-twentieth-century Sierra Leonean Ordehlay or Jollay society mask. Also featured are recent works by Atta Kwami, Ranti Bam, Magdalene Odundo OBE, and Taiye Idahor, which are paired with artworks by Māori, Seminole, Spanish, American, Huastec, and Korean artists.
Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa is the first major exhibition addressing the scope of Saharan trade and the shared history of West Africa, the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe from the eighth to sixteenth centuries. Weaving stories about interconnected histories, the exhibition showcases the objects and ideas that connected at the crossroads of the medieval Sahara and celebrates West Africa’s historic and under-recognised global significance. Presenting more than 250 artworks spanning five centuries and a vast geographic expanse, the exhibition features unprecedented loans from partner institutions in Mali, Morocco, and Nigeria, many of which will be seen in North America for the first time.
The Linden-Museum Stuttgart presents its new permanent exhibition "Wo ist Afrika?" from 16 March 2019. "Wo ist Afrika?" invites the visitor to critically explore and re-evaluate contexts and narratives associated to Linden-Museum Stuttgart’s collection of artefacts from the African continent. The exhibition shows how the collections were established, how they developed over time, and which rules of classification they adhered to. A large part of the objects on display were acquired from Cameroon, the Congo basin, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania between the end of 19th and the first half of the 20th, at the height of the European "Scramble for Africa". "Wo ist Afrika?" examines stories and histories inscribed into these objects and what they can mean for us today. The exhibition opens up a space of cultural creativity, which allows the visitors to near themselves to a wider understanding of culture. "Wo ist Afrika?" has a process-oriented approach, questioning the authority of the museum by showing a multitude of parallel narratives and asking important questions addressed to our contemporary societal cohabitation.
Among African cultures, deceased ancestors remain important members of the community who are revered in the afterlife. They are venerated by surviving family and community members who ask for divine intercession from their forebears in matters related to wealth, fertility, and agricultural prosperity. This exhibition focuses on NOMA’s recently acquired akwanshi stone monolith from the Cross River region of Nigeria, supported with figures and objects rendered in part or whole in stone from other regions of West Africa. The show speaks to the significance of stone as both a natural element and a significant material in the veneration of ancestors. Although carved stones represent ancestors, uncarved stones may also represent ancestors. Such characteristics suggest the importance of stone to this and other African cultures.