Met Museum's Special Exhibition Tells Story of How African Artifacts Were First Recognized as Art in U.S.
Section 3—1919-23: A Move Toward Institutions
During the early 1920s, several American institutions began opening their doors to African art. This section highlights the collections and exhibitions from the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the Whitney Studio. Works on view will include three photographs by Charles Sheeler capturing the 1923 exhibition entitled Recent Paintings by Pablo Picasso and Negro Sculpture at the Whitney Studio Club. Exhibited nearby will be a 19th-century Fang reliquary head from Gabon, which is a subject appearing in two of the Sheeler’s photographs.
Section 4—The Blondiau-Theatre Arts Collection and the Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance is a cultural movement characterized by a flowering of African-American literature, theater, music, and art in the 1920s. For its members, African art resonated with a desire to connect with their distant past. Chief among the intelligentsia of the Harlem Renaissance was the philosopher Alain LeRoy Locke (1885–1954). To provide artists with study material, Locke obtained a large collection of art from what was then the Belgian Congo. Selected works from this collection—now dispersed and rarely exhibited—will be displayed alongside the works by African-American artists they inspired. Negro Masks, a painting by Malvin GRay Johnson (American, 1896-1934), will be reunited for the first time with the masks from Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo it depicts.
In addition to 11 works from the Metropolitan Museum’s own holdings, the exhibition includes 51 loans from private and institutional collections including the University of Pennsylvania Museum, Philadelphia; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago; Musée Dapper, Paris; Art and Artifacts Division of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York; and the National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C.
African Art, New York, and the Avant-Garde is organized by Yaëlle Biro, Assistant Curator in the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.
Gallery talks and exhibition tours will be offered in conjunction with the exhibition, and a public lecture will take place on February 8, 2013.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a special issue of Tribal Art Magazine.
It will be featured on the Museum’s website at www.metmuseum.org.