On my actual birthday, Boris and I went to see the exhibit in the Art Institute called “The Language of Beauty in African Art”
That was one of the most astonishing discoveries for me! The only thing I knew about African Art was the art of Benin. Even though I saw some artworks in the Art Institute’s permanent exhibit, I didn’t explore them deeply enough.
Before I explode with a million pictures, let me summarize what was so astonishing. We know how Ancient Greek art was taken away en mass and how greeks thought for returning many of the artworks. We know about a similar struggle in Egypt. However, Greek and Egyptian art were at least studied and carefully preserved, and all the circumstances of when and where objects were found were recorded.
With African art, the situation is different. When Europeans arrived to Africa (specifically, when Germans arrived to West Africa at the end of the 19th century), they saw a “primitive” art, which looked cool, and they just took the objects of art and brought them to Europe! I am not even talking about asking for permission, or paying in some way, but they didn’t even asked what these objects meant!!!!
Looking at the exhibit, you can see that some research followed, and in many cases, you can read about language, beliefs, gods, etc. But in many cases, it’s “the purpose is unknown”, and “16 – 19 th century”, and “Southern or Western Africa”. And that’s it!
And look at all these amazing artworks! Can you see why German artists were so fascinated? Can you see how this art influenced German Expressionism and Cubism? Do you see Picaso’s big feet and Modigliani’s women?
We had to leave after almost two hours because of emotional and informational overload, and we haven’t see about a third of this exhibit. And as I said, I have tons of photos. Posting some here, and hopefully more later.
More to come!