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.
The Summer Exhibition has run without interruption since 1769 and we don’t intend to break that streak in 2020. It is the world’s largest open submission art show, and anyone can apply to enter. Each year, a committee of diverse artists choose an array of art in all mediums – prints and paintings, film and photography, sculpture, architectural works and more – for everyone and anyone to enjoy. You’ll see work by leading artists, Royal Academicians and household names, as well as new and emerging talent you might not know. So, explore art you love, art you hate, and art that simply puts a smile on your face.
Across central Africa’s matrilineal belt, the most important artworks were those that depicted the female body. In these 19th and early 20th century communities, group identity and familial responsibility flowed through the maternal line. Artists responded to this reality by sculpting visual markers of motherhood onto a range of objects associated with status and authority. In these societies, mothers not only created life and nurtured families but also stood at the centre of the moral order, ensuring the continuity of entire communities. From monumental headdresses of elderly mothers to sculptures that represent mythic female ancestors, this exhibition brings together nearly 40 objects from public and private collections to demonstrate how artists have represented the power of African mothers and used maternal imagery to signal moral, cultural, and spiritual authority.
The first-ever UK exhibition by Nigerian-American artist Toyin Ojih Odutola, this epic cycle of new work will explore an imagined ancient myth, with an immersive soundscape by artist Peter Adjaye. Toyin Ojih Odutola, recognising the pen as a ‘writing tool first’, plays with the idea that drawing can be a form of storytelling. Working exclusively with drawing materials including pastel and charcoal, she approaches her process of drawing as an investigative practice. Ojih Odutola proposes speculative fictions, inviting the viewer to enter her vision of an uncannily familiar yet fantastical world. Drawing on an eclectic range of references, from ancient history to popular culture to contemporary politics, Ojih Odutola encourages the viewer to piece together the fragments of the stories that she presents.
The Akan peoples, Ashanti in particular, used gold as a means of payment until colonial currencies were imposed at the beginning of the 20th century. Kept in powder in small boxes, this gold was weighed with scales and weights. Over 2,000 of these weights are kept in the collection of Monnaie de Paris, thanks to various legacies and donations, the last of which occurred in 2018. Through a selection, the 11 Conti Museum explains the origins and unexpected originalities of these small bronze figures that immerse us in the daily life of this region of Africa. The visitor will discover that beyond the gold weighed to trade, the weights say much more than a simple price! This universe - far removed from Western metrology - is recontextualised within the rich Akan culture and the relations which linked Africa - and in particular the Gold Coast - with the West.
Tate Modern presents the first major mid-career survey of visual activist Zanele Muholi in the UK. Born in South Africa, Muholi came to prominence in the early 2000s with photographs that sought to envision black lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex lives beyond deviance or victimhood. Muholi’s work challenges hetero-patriarchal ideologies and representations, presenting the participants in their photographs as confident and beautiful individuals bravely existing in the face of prejudice, intolerance and, frequently, violence. While Muholi’s intimate photographs of others launched their international career, their intense self-portraits solidified it. This exhibition will present the full breadth of Muholi’s photographic and activist practice.
Second Careers explores the connections between historical African art and contemporary practices through a selection of exemplary highlights from the museum’s African collection and loaned works. CMA objects from nine cultures in Central and West Africa—male and female figures and masks, masquerade costume, a hunter’s tunic, and a prestige throne—are juxtaposed with large-scale installations, sculptures, and photographs by six leading contemporary African artists. The exhibition considers the status of canonical African art objects when they begin their “second careers” upon entering museum collections.
The DMA’s Conservation and Arts of Africa departments, in an exciting and cutting-edge collaboration with UT Southwestern Medical Center, will present CT scans of a Senufo helmet mask from the Museum’s African art collection. This kind of mask is worn like a helmet by a medium at initiations, funerals, harvest celebrations and secret events conducted by the powerful male-only Komo society, which has traditionally maintained social and spiritual harmony in Senufo villages in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Burkina Faso. Visible attachments on the mask include a female figure, cowrie shells, and imported glassware. The CT-scans reveal unexpected materials beneath the surface and objects contained in the attached animal horns that empower the mask.
In 2020 it will be exactly one hundred years ago that Antwerp, in full colonial time, acquired its Congolese museum collection. What are the stories behind the Congolese objects? And how did they end up in the port city? The exhibition focuses on a hundred unique Congolese works and examines their significance for various Congolese peoples. You learn about the impact of Christian missions on Congolese culture and about the view of Congolese people on the 'white' (global).
The first major survey of the celebrated London-based painter. Widely considered to be one of the most important painters of her generation, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is a British artist and writer acclaimed for her enigmatic portraits of fictitious people. Her paintings often allude to historic European portraiture – notably Francisco de Goya, John Singer Sargent and Édouard Manet – yet in subject matter and technique, her approach is decidedly contemporary. Through her focus on the depiction of imagined black characters, Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings raise important questions of identity and representation. This exhibition will bring together over 80 paintings and works on paper from 2003 to the present day in the most extensive survey of the artist’s career to date.
After the Tate Modern in London, the MEP will present the first major retrospective in France devoted to the work of the South African "visual activist" Zanele Muholi. Born in South Africa, Zanele Muholi began to distinguish themselves at the dawn of the 2000s with photos seeking to document the life of black lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or intersex people, far from the representation that is usually made between deviance and victimisation. The work of Zanele Muholi defies ideology and hetero-patriarchal representations, presenting their subjects as confident, beautiful beings, who dare to exist with courage despite prejudice, intolerance and very often violence towards them.
This exhibition highlights artistic innovation and creativity in Africa as seen primarily through the traditions of ceramic arts from across the continent and over its long history. Countering the assumption that African arts and societies are largely unchanging and bound to traditions and customs, the remarkable diversity of objects and styles on display here tells a different story. A selection of more than 50 works on loan from the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, including those by newly discovered Nigerian artist Alice Osayewe, are shown alongside works from the Harvard Art Museums permanent collections, such as a recently acquired contemporary photograph by Afro-futurist artist Alexis Peskine.
Be your best. This is the quest that the greatest of heroes model for us. Through their journeys, struggles, and triumphs, exceptional individuals exemplify values that we celebrate in tales of heroic accomplishment. Through art, artists tell such stories—stories of the world’s current complexity, but also visions of a world that could yet be. Heroes: Principles of African Greatness features artworks from the National Museum of African Art’s permanent collection that tell the story of key heroic principles and personages in Africa’s arts and history. Throughout, core values are considered as each artwork is paired with a specific historic African individual who embodies the value expressed in the selected work. Discover Africa’s heroes—some well-known, others perhaps surprising—and see artworks in new ways.