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

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Denver art museum

Denver Art Museum © Studio Daniel Libeskind/Studio Daniel Libeskind

Denver Art Museum
100 W 14th Ave Pkwy
Denver, CO 80204

Phone720-865-5000 

Architect Daniel Libeskind's angular building, his first in the U.S., is a good fit with the Colorado capital.Rendering of the Denver Art Museum's Frederick C. Hamilton extension. read more about the architecture below this page.

Denver Art Museum new African Art department.

The Denver museum's African art collection (Level 4, Hamilton Building) is the most comprehensive body of objects from the African continent in the Rocky Mountain region. It includes about 1,000 paintings, sculptures, installations, and mixed media compositions from every part of Africa.
 
In the new African art gallery, artworks are presented in the context of music, poetry, and performance. Older works by Olowe Ise and others are juxtaposed with new works by contemporary African artists, including Moyo Ogundipe and Francis Nnaggenda. 

The display also balances works by women artists—including the Akire shrine painters—with those made by men.

Ngil Mask

Denver Art Museum. Ngil mask

Very little is known about the purpose of the Fang ngil mask. The secret society that made this mask was banned in 1910 by French colonial rule, and knowledge about the mask was lost as a result. Its last known function was to cleanse the community of sorcery and other forms of evil.

One meaning of the word ngil is “gorilla,” and the arched eyebrows and broad, rounded forehead may be meant to model the prominent brow of the gorilla. The white color represents purity and the power of regeneration associated with ancestral forces.

Very little is known about the purpose of the Fang ngil mask. The secret society that made this mask was banned in 1910 by French colonial rule, and knowledge about the mask was lost as a result. Its last known function was to cleanse the community of sorcery and other forms of evil.

One meaning of the word ngil is “gorilla,” and the arched eyebrows and broad, rounded forehead may be meant to model the prominent brow of the gorilla. The white color represents purity and the power of regeneration associated with ancestral forces.

See also Rand's Virtual visit of the Denver African art department (Rand is a member of our discussion group actively promoting African Art in the Denver area and also co-founder of the Douglas society)

Denver African Art department

related 

african art passion for patronAfrican Art Patron 

Daniel Yohannes brings business and political connections to his seat on the Denver Art Museum's board of trustees.

African art a passion for patron

Pointedly different

By Christopher Hawthorne, found at LA Times September 30, 2006

So Daniel Libeskind knows his way around a master plan after all.

The architect's new wing for the Denver Art Museum, his first finished building in the U.S., appears at first to be primarily an example of aggressive form-making — a branding exercise for designer and client alike. Libeskind says the museum's angular, titanium-clad exterior, a dazzling piece of architectural sculpture, was inspired by the Rocky Mountains. But it looks more like a collection of metal shards frozen in the middle of a huge explosion.

Inside, the soaring, canted gallery walls and corkscrew circulation pattern produce one dramatic view after another. They also make it impossible to clear your head long enough to consider the art in anything close to a contemplative state.

Denver HamiltonA long, narrow wedge of the Hamilton Building thrusts up and across 13th Avenue to point toward the original Denver Art Museum.
(Anne Cusack / LAT)

The combination of visual delight and nearly physical unease produced by the museum hardly comes as a surprise. Libeskind's few completed buildings — most notably the Jewish Museum in Berlin, which opened five years ago — are known for provoking an unusually wide range of responses: grief, a rushing sense of freedom, creeping claustrophobia. Along with a surprising gift for folksy rhetoric, those talents helped Libeskind, who was born in Poland to Holocaust survivors and moved to the U.S. when he was 13, win the 2002 master plan competition at the World Trade Center site.

He is now planner there in name only, and barely that: In ways large and small, his scheme has been circumvented by bureaucrats, politicians and fellow architects. Denver is not Manhattan, of course, and few pieces of real estate in the world have ever been as fraught as ground zero. But the revelation of Libeskind's design for the museum here, and the 55-unit condominium building that he designed next door, is how well its pieces fit into a larger civic puzzle.

For all its iconic power — and for all the evidence it presents that Libeskind is still fully in thrall to the colliding, fragmented forms of deconstructivist architecture — this is a project that a New Urbanist could happily endorse.

It also arrives, for better or worse, as validation of Libeskind's famously unflagging optimism. The last line of his 2004 autobiography, "Breaking Ground," reads simply, "You have to believe," and his endlessly rose-colored descriptions of the chaos in the ground zero planning process began, after a while, to sound more desperate than steadfast.

Whatever you make of it, that optimism is certainly his most American trait, and now one American city, at least, is rewarding him for it. When his museum wing opens next Saturday, Libeskind will be able to bask alone in the spotlight. And he'll be able to repeat the process several times over in coming years. His building for the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco is expected to be finished in 2008, and his New York-based firm has condo towers in the works in Sacramento and suburban Cincinnati.

The heart of his design in Denver, which he completed with a local firm, Davis Partnership, is a pedestrian plaza squeezed between the jagged, nearly windowless front facade of the museum wing and the boxier, fussily detailed condo building. The plaza — which runs on a strong north-south axis connecting downtown Denver with the Golden Triangle neighborhood — is the rare pedestrian-only space that avoids a sense of canned urbanism.

In large part this is because Libeskind aggressively varies the distance between the two buildings: At certain points, he pulls them within just a few feet of each other, so that the owners of the condos facing the museum feel as though they can reach out and touch its shimmering facade.

The public spaces also gain from the fact that the street running perpendicular to the plaza, 13th Avenue, remains open to cars and that a new parking lot serving the complex is hidden behind the L-shaped condo wing rather than sunk below the museum itself. This separation forces visitors to walk — albeit only 75 feet or so — across the plaza before they reach the front entrance of the Libeskind building. It's a simple trick, but one we too often forget in Los Angeles.

In another direction, the Libeskind wing connects via a long glass bridge, suspended above 13th, to the museum's main existing building, an eccentric fortress-like design by the Italian architect Gio Ponti that opened in 1971. Libeskind's various urban design gestures — some confrontational, others neighborly — have created a surprisingly effective relationship among a group of very different buildings. Even Michael Graves' Denver Public Library nearby, a textbook example of over-scaled Postmodernism, is brought smoothly into the conversation by Libeskind, as if he were the practiced host of this kind of architectural cocktail party.

The interior of Libeskind's museum is full of remarkable manipulations of perspective and scale. Just inside the revolving doors, an atrium unfurls to your right and then explodes upward. Massive structural walls, all of them painted white, fly around at all angles. When you stand at the foot of the staircase, which is pushed to the extreme left of the space, and look up, you can see all the way to the skylights cut out of the ceiling, 120 feet above the floor.

But even those views are compromised by the appearance of the mundane: The pure geometry of the forms is interrupted, for example, by the lighting tracks that cross the ceiling on each gallery level. The overall effect is a less-assured version of the concrete interiors of Rem Koolhaas' concert hall in Porto, Portugal, which opened last year.

The galleries themselves, which are formed by some of Libeskind's walls and others inserted by Dan Kohl, the exhibition designer, are the setting for some awkward meetings between art and architecture. A few paintings hang down from the ceiling and meet a slanting wall at an absurdly sharp angle. A Navajo blanket is spread onto one of the sloping surfaces.

As curatorial gestures, they are seemingly meant to be provocative — or maybe just playful — but come off as pointless: It's hard to see what's gained by looking obliquely at a textile or setting a Mondrian grid at a 30-degree angle to the wall behind it. Large-scale and digital pieces do better in this architectural funhouse.

In a few cases, Kohl actually tries to out-Libeskind Libeskind. In a small gallery on the top level that holds African art, he takes a space already carved out from colliding ceilings and walls and splinters it even further, arranging the artwork on a collection of angular platforms.

In the building's largest gallery, also on the top floor, a ceiling flies down from above to meet two canted walls in a dark, faraway corner that like many of the more eccentric spaces here is so oddly shaped that building codes dictate it be sealed off from museum visitors altogether. The effect of looking across that room — a hangar-sized space twisted like origami — is to make you wonder if there's a word for the horizontal version of vertigo.

denver art museumA Louise Bourgeois spider is one of several sculptures that surround the museum.
(Anne Cusack / LAT)

The visual chaos of the museum's interior offers a final reason to recommend Libeskind's plaza. It's a fine place to meet somebody before you head inside: You'll be coming from the parking lot, I'll be walking from downtown, and we can meet by the Louise Bourgeois spider. But it seems especially welcome after you've taken a trip through the galleries and simply need to sit down and stare at the sky — or a tree, or other people — until you feel like yourself again.

christopher.hawthorne@latimes.com

Read also: 

Douglas society Denver Native art exhibition at Republic Plaza 

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Denver art museum
Centre Black African Civilization
charles wright
Seattle Art Museum
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African art books

The Tribal Arts of Africa

The Tribal Arts of Africa
Author: Jean-Baptiste Bacquart

more African Art books I like


read also : Start ] Virtual Museum ] African-Americans SF ] Chicago-ceramics ] Newark Museum ] Cleveland arms ] de Young-SF ] Museum of fine arts Boston ] Brooklyn Museum ] New Orleans Museum ] Detroit Institute DIA ] SAMA Artistry ] Museum for African Art ] Barbier-Mueller ] Cleveland ] Dallas-Museum-of-Arts ] Indianapolis ] Columbia-Urhobo ] NMAA Art-Treasures ] Baltimore-museum ] Dapper postcolonial ] Fine-arts-Houston ] Menil-Houston-Texas ] Louvres-Islamic art ] Minneapolis ] Metropolitan ] Israel Museum Jerusalem ] Orlando-Museum ] Cincinnati art museum ] Philadelphia-Museum ] Polk-Museum-of-Art ] african culture Portland ] Smithsonian-Washington ] SMA fathers New Jersey ] Tervueren ] UMKC-Belger Arts ] Whitman-New-Jersey ] West-Valley-Arizona ] Kunstkamera-Petersburg ] Ethnology-Vienna ] Irma-Stern-Museum ] Appleton museum Ocala ] UCLA-Fowler ] Benin Museum ] Weltkulture ] DuSable Museum ] Cuba museum ] fineartshouston ] Bowers museum ] Museu Afro Brazil ] airport art ] Nelson Atkins ] Zora Neale ] branly museum ] Longyear museum ] Douglas society Denver ] [ Denver art museum ] Centre Black African Civilization ] charles wright ] Seattle Art Museum ] Samuel Dorsky ] High museum Atlanta ]

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