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A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden

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Masterworks of African Art: Yoruba Images and Aesthetics 

U-M Museum of Art:  525 S. State St. ,  Ann Arbor, Michigan USA Information: (734) 763-UMMA.


November 13, 2004–May 8, 2005 Seated Figure (Oyá) with Beaded Collar

Seated Figure (Oyá) with Beaded Collar
late-19th-early-20th century
Carved wood, beads, cloth
Collection of Robert M. and Lillian Montalto Bohlen

Although the works on view in this exhibition are aesthetically powerful, the Yoruba people see them in a broader context. To the original makers and users of these objects, their beauty was more than "skin deep," deriving from finely worked surfaces or expressive form. The significance and value of a work of art within the Yoruba cultural context relates to the extent to which it embodies Yoruba ideals of character, individuality, and one's relationship to the social order. As ritual objects, these works featured in this exhibition marry ideals of physical beauty with corresponding virtues celebrated by the culture, providing guidance to the Yoruba people as they live their lives, make peace with the gods, and maintain connections to their ancestors.

Masterworks of African Art: Yoruba Ideas and Aesthetics was guest curated by Michael Kan, Curator Emeritus of African and Oceanic Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and by David T. Doris, Assistant Professor of African Arts and Visual Culture at the University of Michigan, Department of the History of Art and the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies. The gallery commentary for this exhibition was written by Professor Doris and students in his First Year Seminar in Yoruba Visual Culture, with additional contributions by Michael Kan and by seventh-generation Yoruba diviner and ritual specialist Kolawole Oshitola. The bringing together of these diverse and deeply informed interpretive "voices," provides multiple ways to engage with, better understand, and enjoy the exceptional works of art on view.

Research funding for this exhibition was made possible by Robert M. and Lillian Montalto Bohlen. The exhibition and its accompanying publication have been made possible by TIAA-CREF, with additional support provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Education, the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, and The Atlantic Studies Initiative.

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'Dark Continent' art celebrated in UMMA exhibits 

Program accents shows of work from Lega culture in Central Africa 
Sunday, November 14, 2004

News Writer 
In the event this season's gray is already starting to get you down, take a trip over to the University of Michigan Museum of Art: Africa's color is breaking out all over the place. 

This month is seeing one of those planned conjunction of stellar exhibitions whose theme coincides with a single topic. In this instance, what was once called the "Dark Continent" is going to prove it is anything but monochromatic. 

The chief attraction is the "The Art of the Lega: Meaning and Metaphor in Central Africa," in the museum's spacious West Gallery - an array of masks, spoons, baskets and abstracted figurines illustrating the aesthetics and spiritual life of the Lega people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Also on display is the next installment of "Masterworks of African Art." In this segment, the Yoruba people of southern Nigeria will be featured. This exhibit has been guest curated by Michael Kan, curator emeritus of African and Oceanic Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and by David T. Doris, assistant professor of African Arts and Visual Culture at the U-M art history department and Center for Afro-American and African Studies. The display features Yoruba ideals of character and the individual's relationship to society. 

"Art of the Lega: Meaning and Metaphor in Central Africa" will continue through Jan. 16 and "Masterworks of African Art: Yoruba Images and Aesthetics" will continue through May 8 at 525 S. State St. For information, call (734) 763-UMMA. 

Masterworks of African Art: The Congo Basin

Masterworks of African Art will explore the aesthetic and visual power of African art made by peoples along the Congo River Basin. Guest curated by Michael Kan, former Curator of African Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the project is the first of three exhibitions devoted to exploring several different regions of the African continent. Drawn from private collections in the region and those of University of Michigan alumni, the works on view have all been chosen for their exemplary aesthetic qualities. The exhibition provides a rare opportunity to see works not frequently available to the public and to explore the uses and ritual roles of these art objects in their cultural settings. 

This exhibition is already past, read about it at african art exhibition at UMMA : Michigan Museum of Art

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Author: Jean-Baptiste Bacquart

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