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Aurélie Verdier

(b Saïda, Algeria, 1953).

French painter, sculptor, photographer, film maker, writer and installation artist of Algerian birth. Born to Spanish parents, he was much affected by North African as well as Southern European culture. He trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Le Havre. Despite a pervasive and diverse use of media, Alberola often stressed the coexistence of his different artistic practices as leading to painting alone. His paintings relied heavily on evocative narratives, at once personal and ‘historical’. Alberola conceived of his role as a storyteller, on the model of African oral cultures. Convinced that narratives could not be renewed, he argued that a painter’s main task was to reactivate his work through contact with his pictorial heritage. The main points of reference for his paintings of the early 1980s were Velázquez, Manet or Matisse, whose works he quoted in a personal way. In the early 1980s he undertook a series of paintings inspired by mythological subjects, which he combined with his own history as the principal subject-matter of his work. The biblical story of Susannah and the Elders as well as the Greek myth of Actaeon provided his most enduring subjects, both referring to the act of looking as taboo, as in ...

Article

Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

Article

Mozambican, 20th century, male.

Born 6 June 1936, in Matalana.

Painter, draughtsman, engraver, potter, sculptor, poet. Murals.

Valente Ngwenya Malangatana is a major figure in 20th century Mozambican culture. He was initiated into traditional healing practices when he was a young man, beginning to draw in ...

Article

(b Nimo, April 30, 1933).

Nigerian painter, sculptor, illustrator and poet. After attending Bishop Shanahan Secondary School, Orlu (1950–53), he received a degree in Fine Arts from the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria (1957–61). In 1958 he founded the Asele Institute in Kafanchan for research in Nigerian art and culture. In the 1960s he was a member of the Ibadan Mbari Club, and a few years later formed the Enugu branch of Mbari that became a centre for artists of the Eastern region. His interest in Nigerian visual culture, especially that of his own Ibgo people, was most evident in his attention to and use of uli patterns (see Africa §V 3.) in his works, such as Oja Suite (1962; Nimo, Asele Inst.). He employed these organic, gestural lines to depict Igbo folktales as well as to produce the later Munich Suite (1963) during his travels in Germany. He was a founding member of the Zaria Art Society, which sought to create a Nigerian artistic expression based on a synthesis of indigenous and foreign art traditions. In ...

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....