african masksbrooklyn museum of art
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A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden

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Arts of Africa at the Brooklyn Museum of Art

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Face Mask. Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lele artist, late 19th or early 20th century. Wood, pigments, fiber, 13 x 8 1/2 in. (33 x 21.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Milton and Frieda Rosenthal, Carll H. de Silver Fund and A. Augustus Healy Fund, 82.160

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African Art has been and inspiration and a continuous source of fascination for Western artists for centuries, and it's distinct shapes, colours, themes and subjects have paved the way for some of the best examples of 19th and 20th century art in the US and Europe. 

It is therefore naturally for the Brooklyn Museum of Art in the USA to present an exhibition dedicated to this subject, showcasing over 250 works, of great variety and quality, depicting more than 2500 years in the history of African Art. 
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The sheer number and geographical origin of the works are impressive : from the ancient Nubian pottery and sculptures to Berber jewelry, from masks - richly decorated and carefully carved - to beadwork from East Africa, including crosses and contemporary art, this exhibition is a condensed history. The curators have chosen to focus mainly on the sculpture of West and Central Africa , richly represented in the show.


An exhibition of this size and importance is difficult to put together, and the best idea was to group the pieces geographically, so the viewer could literally ponder through various regions of Africa, from west to east and from north to south, discovering the artistic tradition and often genious of the now passed away masters. Many of these artists' names have remained a mistery. 


Also, the visitor has the chance of understanding the cultural, hystorical and ethnical context in which these type of works were made. The role that art plays in African everyday life is also presented by means of panels, labels, photographs and videos.  


The gallery also shows textiles, ceramics, jewelry, masks, and figures from more than 50 different cultures.


Among the most famous pieces on view in the gallery are a figure of a hornblower, cast in brass for the king of Benin in the 16th century, and an ivory gong also made for the royal court in Benin at about the same time. A seventeenth-century figure of a N'Dop Kuba king is the only one from that period in North America , and a Luluwa mother-and-child figure is world-renowned. 


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Figure of a Mother Holding a Child (Lupingu lua Luimpe). Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lulua artist, 19th century. Wood, copper alloy, 14 x 3 3/8 in. (35.6 x 8.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund, 50.124 

Brooklyn Museum Collections: African Art: 50.124

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The Tribal Arts of Africa

The Tribal Arts of Africa
Author: Jean-Baptiste Bacquart

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