The Snite Museum of Art African art collection will reopen this fall within a larger, more prestigious space on the main floor of the Museum. The reinstallation will explore themes of power. In the past, African art was often tied into the way African leaders promoted their agendas. Royalty and rulers used art to project their authority; religious groups promoted their faiths; while the wealthy desired to display their riches. Ordinary Africans also used art to enable them to wield their own forms of power. Since supernatural forces were thought to play a large role in determining events, it was important to own objects that could withstand or shape events that lay beyond ordinary control. Fifty-nine outstanding works from the Snite Museum collection will illustrate these ideas through themes of economic, political, social, and spiritual power in Africa. Most of these works have never been on public view before. Nearly a third belong to the Owen D. Mort Jr. Collection, with art primarily from Democratic Republic of Congo, where Mort worked for many years. As he said, “My hope is to educate people on Africa. It’s been a great love of mine… Ideally Notre Dame would use the collection for education, to get interest going in Africa.”
For more than two millennia, ironworking has shaped African cultures in the most fundamental ways. Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths reveals the history of invention and technical sophistication that led African blacksmiths to transform one of Earth’s most basic natural resources into objects of life-changing utility, empowerment, prestige, spiritual potency, and astonishing artistry. Striking Iron is an international travelling exhibition organized by the Fowler Museum at UCLA that combines scholarship with objects of great aesthetic beauty to create the most comprehensive treatment of the blacksmith’s art in Africa to date. The exhibition includes over 225 artworks from across the African continent focusing on the region south of the Sahara and covering a time period spanning early archaeological evidence to the present day. Striking Iron features artworks from the Fowler collection as well as American and European public and private collections.
No exhibition has yet paid homage to Félix Fénéon (1861-1944), an important figure in the artistic world in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Musée de l’Orangerie, in association with the musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, is honouring this extraordinary man who remains unjustly unknown. The exhibition will demonstrate the different facets of this unusual character, with his Quaker-like appearance and deadpan humour, who combined an exemplary career as a civil servant with strong artistic and anarchist convictions. Columnist, editor at the Revue Blanche, art critic, publisher - he published Rimbaud’s ‘Illuminations’ -, and gallery owner, Fénéon was also an exceptional collector who amassed a large number of masterpieces including a unique set of African and Oceanian sculptures. The exhibition will bring together an exceptional array of paintings and drawings by Seurat, Signac, Degas, Bonnard, Modigliani, Matisse, Derain, Severini, Balla, etc., pieces from Africa and Oceania, as well as documents and archives.
Journey along the Sahara Desert’s trade routes during a time when West African gold directly impacted and connected peoples and cultures, arts and beliefs across continents. Experience the first major exhibition to reveal the shared history of West Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe from the 8th to 16th centuries and see more than 250 artworks, many shown in North America for the first time.
The Museum of Modern Art announces Félix Fénéon: The Anarchist and the Avant-Garde—From Signac to Matisse and Beyond, the first exhibition devoted to the influential French art critic, editor, publisher, dealer, and collector Félix Fénéon (1861–1944), on view from March 22 through July 25, 2020. Though largely unknown today and always discreetly behind the scenes in his own era, Fénéon played a key role in the careers of leading artists from Georges Seurat and Paul Signac to Pierre Bonnard and Henri Matisse, each of whom is featured prominently in the exhibition. Félix Fénéon: The Anarchist and the Avant-Garde—From Signac to Matisse and Beyond traces Fénéon’s career through approximately 150 works that highlight his initiatives to help artists via his reviews, exhibitions, and acquisitions; his commitment to anarchism; his literary engagements; and his contributions to the recognition of non-Western art. Bringing together a selection of major works that Fénéon admired, championed, and collected, alongside contemporary letters, documents, and photographs, the exhibition underscores the tremendous impact he had on the development of modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
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.