A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden
Bura Heads: Terra Cotta Sculpture from Africa
New York, NY 10029
In contrast to the more representational style of terra cotta sculptures created by their neighbors, Bura terra cottas are distinguished by a preference for abstraction and simplification.
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found at nmcah.org
In the early years of the twentieth century, African masks and wood sculpture began to appear in the studios of French artists. History was in the making as African artifacts were recognized and appreciated as though for the first time and the course of Western art was dramatically changed. Picasso and Matisse, among others, were deeply influenced by African art as the proceeded to invent “Modern Art.” By the mid-twentieth century it was generally believed that most, if not all, important works of art from Africa were in European and American collections.
Though similar to one another, no two of these heads are identical. As schematic as the style may be, each head has an individuality born of the creative use of elements such as facial shape, tilt of the head, scarification, and hairstyle.
Bura artists seemed to have derived great pleasure in achieving an identity with the least amount of clues. Because of the course taken by Western art, viewers of this fine exhibition will be reminded that the thrill of perception through minimalist means is as open to the contemporary viewer as it was to the people of the first-millennium Bura civilization.
After these heads are viewed at some
length don’t be surprised to find likenesses in people sitting in outdoor
cafes, walking along the street or riding in buses.
Cornevin, Marianne, “A la
recherché du passé” in Arts d’Afrique, Paris: Gallimard Musee
Dapper, 2000. Secrets
du continent noir révélés par l'archéologie
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