Paris Exhibition Sheds Light on Anonymous Masters of West African Sculpture
“Les Maîtres de la Sculpture de Côte D’Ivoire,” an exhibition currently on display at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, presents works of West African sculpture with an emphasis on individual sculptors.
This show takes African art outside the traditional western-centric narrative, where work by African artists have often been lumped together. Highlighting the individual styles and skills of these artists presents the works as art, rather than “objects” (see 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair is Full of Good and Tough Questions).
Curators Lorenz Hamberger and Eberhard Fischer have selected works by sculptors including Uopié, Kuakudili, Nkpasopi, Tame, Sra, Tompieme, and Si, as well as unknown artists with identifiable styles like the Essankro Master or the Master of the Arched Back.
The works originate from various places in Western Africa, including the Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Guinea, and Burkina Faso. Most of the artists lived and worked in the 19th and 20th centuries, but the show ends with a contemporary section, with works by Koffi Kouadou, Nicholas Damas, Emile Guebehi, and Jems Robert Koko Bi.
With this exhibition, the curators are contesting the traditional decontextualization of African artworks, whose forms inspired Modernists like Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani (see $1.9 million for African Mask Once Owned by André Breton).
“Masters of Sculpture from Ivory Coast” is on view at the Musée du Quai Branly until 26 July 2015
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