A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden
Inside the new Seattle Art Museum: African art
Location: Fourth floor north
The African galleries
include these masked figures from Nigeria, dressed for a village masquerade
SAM African Art (objects in the permanent collection )
African Art in the Collection of the Seattle Art Museum
: A Guide to the History, Culture, and Art of African
Americans in Seattle and King County, Washington (Paperback)
The figures are frozen, but McClusky surrounds them in videos. As Robert Farris Thompson noted in his book on SAM's Katherine White collection, "Africa Art in Motion," static art in Africa is inherently contradictory.
In 1981, SAM became a major player in African art when White gave her collection, the finest in private hands, as a partial gift. She chose SAM because she knew McClusky, who in turn had studied with Thompson.
It's a brave world with brilliant people in it, and SAM wouldn't have a place on its map without its internationally celebrated curator.
Because McClusky's galleries are in the new northern wing of the expansion, known as the chilly side, her challenge was to warm them up with art. You know you're entering a new world as you emerge from the escalator on the fourth floor. The frosted glass wall under the handrails is a video screen. Music comes in centralized wave baths, which you move into and out of.
Against a high wall against the escalator is William Kentridge's haunting "Shadow Procession," with a sound bath of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus."
Other highlights in the African galleries include Seydou Keita's and Malick Sidibe's photos, especially Sidibe's "Roadside Picnic" from 1976, with Malian teenagers holding up American rock 'n' roll records. Say it loud, James Brown. Kane Quaye's deluxe car coffin is the answer to Janis Joplin's prayer: Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz. Heaven, here we come.
DON'T MISS: Marita Dingus' "400 Men and 200 Women of African Descent," from 1997, examines the slave trade through trashed memorials. Every single figure is unique.
African masks from Known Collections
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Tribal Arts of Africa
Author: Jean-Baptiste Bacquart
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