YUAG hires first African art curator to
Published Friday, January 30, 2004 at http://www.yaledailynews.com/article.asp?AID=24764
Frederick Lamp GRD '82
WHITE/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER) has
always dreamed of Africa.
Their tales of Africa were fantastic,
albeit distorted.Frederick Lamp GRD '82
"I'd seen African art on travel posters and it fascinated me," Lamp
from the Yale University Art Gallery. (EMMANUELLE MASSICOT/PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR)
That childhood fantasy would eventually propel him out of Pennsylvania to Sierra
Leone and Guinea, first with the Peace Corps and later to conduct field
research. Now, Lamp has brought his passion to the Yale University Art Gallery,
where he has begun work as the gallery's first curator of African art.
Enriched by recent donations and large gifts in African objects, the Yale
University Art Gallery is positioned to become one of the most significant
university collections of African art -- a process that Lamp has been chosen to
oversee. Under his direction, the YUAG will create a new Department of African
Art with a permanent exhibition space in the renovated Louis Kahn gallery,
slated to open in 2006.
Yale University Art Gallery has a fabulous new African art collection.(EMMANUELLE
"The Department of African Art will
be an important center for African art," Lamp said.
Sitting in his new office, Lamp seems unfazed by the numerous surrounding files
and boxes of materials that he must organize and catalogue. A larger-than
life-size photograph of a masked dancer in ceremonial garb watches Lamp from the
wall behind, an added presence in the room. When Lamp stands in front of the
picture, he seems to drift into the African landscape.
Lamp's primary tasks as curator will be to acquire new pieces, design and
prepare the new gallery space, and sift through the roughly 600 African art
objects recently donated to Yale by one alumnus. Lamp called the donation one of
the most important private collections of African art in the country.
Lamp certainly possesses the qualifications for this momentous new position.
After attending graduate school at Yale, Lamp worked at the Smithsonian's Museum
of African Art and served as the curator for African and Asian arts at The
Baltimore Museum of Art -- two museums known for their vast collections. He is
also a noted specialist on the Baga people, who live on the coast of Guinea.
"We are indeed fortunate that Frederick Lamp has agreed to bring his rich
experience and formidable skills -- back to Yale," said Jock Reynolds, the
Henry J. Heinz II director of the YUAG.
But despite the large collections with which Lamp has previously worked, he said
he is excited to be handling Yale's current holdings. Most other museums have
broad collections of African art objects that vary in quality, but Lamp said
Yale's collection makes up for its smaller size with its high quality.
"The collection here is particularly fine, consisting of top-notch
objects," he said.
In particular, Lamp said he is looking
forward to displaying a large D'mba mask that will come to Yale as a part of the
newly acquired private collection. Carved from a single piece of wood, Lamp said
the D'mba masks are some of the largest in Africa and are "pretty
Marissa Ain '04, an art history major who works in the development office at the
YUAG, said she felt the new acquisitions, as well as the renovated gallery space
-- the James and Laura Ross Gallery of African Art-- will draw more visitors to
the YUAG. In its prior location, Ain said, the University's African art holdings
Despite the fact that she specializes in
modern art, Ain said she looks forward to the new installment.
"It's art that I appreciate," she said. "Picasso, Matisse and all
the major names are African influenced."
When the new gallery space opens, Lamp said he hopes to help viewers appreciate
the African art on a number of levels -- from its influence on the forms of
modern art to its traditional context in Africa. He said he plans to incorporate
music and dance into the exhibits when the new gallery opens.
"Looking at its forms, you can see in some of those masks the faces of
[Picasso's] '[Les] Mademoiselles D'Avignon,'" he said.
In addition to the recent donations of objects, the African Art Department has
acquired three new archives of photographic and informational materials
pertaining to African art that Lamp said will eventually be available to the
This coming month, Lamp will be speaking at the YUAG's "Art and Learning at
Yale," a three day program for patrons and friends of the YUAG. This
February's event will feature a number of African- and African American-themed
presentations, in an effort to welcome Lamp to his new position and publicize
the Gallery's recent efforts in the field.
"I am thrilled to be here," Lamp said. "I can't wait to get
started on the design."
Read also [ Yale University Art Gallery ] [ Art-out-of-Africa ] [ Lamp-at-Yale ] [ Yale renovation ] [ Kahn Yale opening ] [ Yale African Art ] [ Yale art gallery ] [ quilt ]
© 1995-2003 Yale Daily News Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.