21-40 of 302 results  for:

  • African Art x
  • 1900–2000 x
Clear all

Article

Willemijn Stokvis

(b Constantine, Algeria, Jan 23, 1913; d Paris, Feb 12, 1960).

French painter, lithographer and writer. The Jewish intellectual milieu in which he grew up led to his interest in philosophy and religion, and from 1930 to 1934 he studied philosophy at the Sorbonne. While in Paris, however, he was confronted with modern painting for the first time, and his interest in poetry was awakened. Recognizing a means of expressing his interest in magical phenomena, in 1941 he began to paint and write poetry. His activity in the Résistance and his Jewish ancestry led to his arrest in 1942; by pleading insanity he was able to save himself but was confined to the Sainte Anne asylum, where he wrote poetry and painted. In the autumn of 1944, shortly after leaving the asylum, his first and only collection of poems, Le Sang profond, was published, and he exhibited drawings at the Galerie Arc en Ciel.

During the immediate post-war years Atlan’s work was well received in Paris. He had a one-man show in ...

Article

Carol Magee

(b Dec 8, 1956).

Ethiopian painter, installation artist, graphic designer, and writer, active in the USA. She grew up in Addis Ababa in a family of painters before moving to the USA. She graduated from Howard University, Washington, DC, with a BFA in painting (1975) and returned in 1994 for an MFA. Her early works, based on dreams or visions, have richly textured surfaces. In the 1980s she abandoned her early palette of reds, ochres, and greens for one of purples and blues. Later paintings depict an urban environment and frequently evoke the feeling of dislocation and nostalgia that comes from living in a country that is not one’s own. Her use of themes and motifs from myriad cultures (including those of Ethiopia and Latin America) comes out of her experiences as a diasporic subject as well as the lives of the women around her. Her pieces often tell their stories, as in the Dream Dancers series (...

Article

Carol Magee

(b Bamako, 1959).

Malian photographer. He began his career in 1983 when he began documenting cultural patrimony for the Musée National du Mali, where he was staff photographer. His photographs present both broad and intimate views of life, and he is equally skilled in capturing a place empty of people as he is with close-ups, for example of hands or feet. Suggesting both absence and intimate presence, he evokes a powerful sense of the human condition. His aesthetically stunning works offer views that might otherwise go unnoticed: feet pedaling a bicycle, a faint reflection of a colourful boat on creamy white water. Working in both black and white and colour, he almost never shows the faces of his subjects as he captures them at work or in everyday pursuits, for example in Le bol de lait (1997). He suggests people through their interaction with their surroundings; although they remain anonymous, they have an overpowering presence. Light is important both technically and compositionally: in photographed reflections off the land and buildings, one senses the overpowering Malian sun, and such conditions enable him to create images rich in saturated colours....

Article

El Hadji Sy

(b Agniam Thiodaye Matam, July 11, 1945).

Senegalese painter. Primarily an autodidact, he also learnt engraving at the Institut National des Arts du Senegal, Dakar, in 1975. His early work was often rendered in china ink, but he later worked mainly with oil or acrylic paint. In the 1980s and 1990s his canvases focused on the world of Fulani cow herders, as seen in Vache (1988; Frankfurt am Main, Friedrich Axt priv. col.). Ba employs a palette of subtle, earth-tone hues to suggest the arid Sahelian landscape, populating these scenes with stylized cows and herders. His painting is often appreciated by collectors for its visual affinity with ancient rock art. He was considered for membership of the Ecole de Dakar and participated in the government-sponsored exhibition Art contemporain du Senegal, which traveled internationally from 1974 to 1982.

Contemporary Art of Senegal/Art Contemporain du Senegal (exh.cat., Hamilton, Ont., A.G., 1979) F. Axt and El Hadji M. B. Sy...

Article

Gavin Stamp

(b Cobham, Kent, June 9, 1862; d Cobham, Feb 4, 1946).

English architect and writer, also active in South Africa and India . He was articled to a cousin, Arthur Baker, a former assistant of George Gilbert Scott I, in 1879 and attended classes at the Architectural Association and Royal Academy Schools before joining the office of George & Peto in London (1882), where he first met and befriended Edwin Lutyens. Baker set up in independent practice in 1890 but moved to South Africa in 1892 to join his brother Lionel Baker. In Cape Town he met Cecil Rhodes, Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, who directed his attention to the traditional European Cape Dutch architecture of the province and asked him to rebuild his house Groote Schuur (1893, 1897), now the official residence of South Africa’s prime ministers. Applying the ideas of the English Arts and Crafts movement to local conditions, Baker produced a series of houses, both in the Cape Province and the Transvaal, which were instrumental in the revival of Cape Dutch architecture. 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

dele jegede

(b Iloffa, c. 1885; d Odo-Owa, 1978).

Nigerian wood-carver. He carved traditional objects (houseposts, bowls, stools) as well as innovative ones (coffee tables, bread boards) in a relatively plain style. He also carved masks, among the finest being an Epa mask (London, BM) on which two women are surrounded by smaller male figures atop the mask superstructure. This piece adheres to Yoruba conventions in that the figures are idealized, static, stoically poised, emotionless and non-narrative, though they display the fullness of life. Large in size, symmetrical and conventionally proportioned, his pieces have relatively smooth surfaces. Wall plaques with narrative scenes, stools, knives, intricate patterning and details are among his more ‘modern’ works. He taught carving in Omu.

J. D. Clarke: ‘A Yoruba Carved Wood Wall-Plaque’, Nigeria Magazine, 14 (1938), pp. 141–5J. Pemberton III: ‘The Carvers of the Northeast’, Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought, by H. J. Drewal and J. Pemberton III (New York, 1989), pp. 195–206...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Nigeria, 1963).

Nigerian photographer, film maker, installation artist and writer active in Scotland. He studied Chemical Engineering at Strathclyde University, Glasgow (1981–85), before completing an MA in Media, Fine Art, Theory and Practice at the Slade School of Fine Art, London (1996–8). Bamgboyé’s earliest work was photographic: The Lighthouse series (1989; see 1998 book, p. 65) initiated his interest in the representation of black masculinity by depicting his own naked body in often theatrical contortions, amid mundane domestic rooms; the frames of the photographs are attached to coat hangers, underlining the theme of domesticity and pointing to his interest in the changeable character of subjectivity. These themes were further explored in films, which he began to make in 1993: Spells for Beginners (1994; see 2000 exh. cat., p. 74) explores the breakdown of his long-term relationship with a woman through a broken mix of confessional dialogue and fleeting images of their home. The installation of which this film is a part takes the form of an ordinary living room and is typical of Bamgboyé’s technique of adumbrating his imagery with sculptural motifs that emphasize his themes. In other films he explored the issue of migration: ...

Article

Esmé Berman

(Whall)

(b Somerset East, Cape Province, Jan 6, 1906; d Port Shepstone, nr Durban, Aug 20, 1982).

South African painter and printmaker. He trained as an art teacher in Johannesburg (1929–32), and his long career culminated in his appointment to the Chair of Fine Arts at the University of South Africa (UNISA), Pretoria (1964–71). In the 1930s he was among the first to recognize the aesthetic value of southern African rock art, proclaiming his empathy in several books; he replaced his own former realist style with motifs derived from ancient petroglyphs and paintings, as in Quagga Race (610×760 mm, 1948; priv. col., see Berman).

The influence of European modernists from 1938 confirmed Battiss’s commitment to forms of primitive art but also led him closer to abstraction and gave rise to the bright palette that became his hallmark. Subsequent travels broadened his acquaintance with early cultures. Increasingly convinced that ‘calligraphic symbols are a universal language’, he began to incorporate rhythmical calligraphic figurations into compositions such as ...

Article

Baya  

[Mahiedinne, Baya]

(b Borj al-Kiffan, Dec 1931; d Blida, Nov 11, 1998).

Algerian painter. Orphaned at the age of five, she was adopted by a French family who took her to Algiers in 1943. She taught herself to paint, and in 1947 her work, recommended by André Breton, was exhibited at the Galerie Maeght in Paris. In 1949, living at Vallauris in France, she worked on sculptures and pottery, which were exhibited in 1950 at the Maison de l’Artisanat in Algiers; in the same year she married and moved to Blida. While raising a family she stopped painting but resumed in 1963, when she had an exhibition of her early work in Algiers. The following year she participated with other Algerian painters in an exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. In 1966 she had a solo exhibition at the Galerie Pilote in Algiers and thereafter exhibited regularly in Algiers, as well as in Casablanca, Brussels, Marseille and Paris. The distinctive style of her early paintings, such as ...

Article

Bazaar  

Mohammad Gharipour

Bazaar, which is rooted in Middle Persian wāzār and Armenian vačaṟ, has acquired three different meanings: the market as a whole, a market day, and the marketplace. The bazaar as a place is an assemblage of workshops and stores where various goods and services are offered.

Primitive forms of shops and trade centres existed in early civilizations in the Near East, such as Sialk, Tepe in Kashan, Çatal Hüyük, Jerico, and Susa. After the 4th millennium BC, the population grew and villages gradually joined together to shape new cities, resulting in trade even with the remote areas as well as the acceleration of the population in towns. The advancement of trade and accumulation of wealth necessitated the creation of trade centres. Trade, and consequently marketplaces, worked as the main driving force in connecting separate civilizations, while fostering a division of labour, the diffusion of technological innovations, methods of intercultural communication, political and economic management, and techniques of farming and industrial production....

Article

Bela  

Jean-Pierre Ibio

(b Fort Archambault c. 1917; d Brazzaville, c. 1968).

Chad painter, active in the Republic of Congo. He worked as a cook and caretaker for Pierre Romain-Desfossés in Chad, and followed him when he moved near Brazzaville in the mid-1940s. There he spent the mornings cooking and began to paint in the afternoons at the studio founded by Romain-Desfossés. He painted with his fingers, not a paintbrush, though at the end of his life he experimented with brushes. Using his fingers gave the images a highly textured feel and impressionistic look, as seen in Oiseaux blancs (1955; Tervuren, Kon. Mus. Mid-Afrika). He depicted all variety of life: human events, aquatic scenes and animals, often in hunting scenes. Initiations and lively nocturnal dances were among his most frequent subjects, the power and mystery of them emphasized by his masterful sense of colour. His palette is bright, and primary colours predominate; his figures are usually in profile, and surfaces are normally filled....

Article

W. Ali

[Bilkahīyya, Farīd]

(b Marrakesh, Nov 15, 1934).

Moroccan painter. He began painting at the age of 15, and from 1954 to 1959 attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he studied the work of Georges Rouault and Paul Klee. He was then sent on a scholarship to study theatrical design in Czechoslovakia. Upon his return to Morocco in 1962, he was appointed director of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Casablanca (1962–74), where he introduced classes in the principles of Arabic calligraphy, which he believed could be utilized in modern painting. In 1964 Belkahia and the artists Mohammed Melehi and Mohamed Chebaa (b 1935) formed what became known as the ‘Casablanca Group’. They replaced models of Greek statues and still-life paintings at the Ecole with reproductions of Moroccan handicrafts, and taught their students to draw geometric forms and design jewellery and carpets. Their aim was to close the gap between craft and art, and break away from imported academic teachings and the naive painting tradition of the past. In his own work, Belkahia began to use such materials as beaten brass, leather, henna, saffron and natural dyes. He developed a distinct style, producing paintings on hand-stretched leather that incorporated popular signs and motifs, numbers, Arabic calligraphy and characters taken from Berber script. In his later work he turned to erotic themes while using this style and medium (e.g. untitled, henna on wood and leather, ...

Article

David Cast

(b Durban, Transvaal, Nov 21, 1910; d Newark-on-Trent, Notts, Aug 9, 1943).

British painter of South African birth. He studied at Durban School of Art and after showing his work in 1930 earned enough money to travel to London, arriving there in 1931. Some years of poverty followed, and in 1935, a year after participating in an exhibition of paintings based on abstraction from nature (see Objective Abstraction), he gave up painting and became a journalist. He returned to painting, however, after the establishment in 1937 of the Euston Road School in London by William Coldstream, whom he had met in 1934, finding in the ideas and practices of its artists a way to accommodate both his social concerns and his admiration of a tradition of painting derived from Cézanne.

In the first paintings he produced in England Bell explored the lyrical possibilities of the paintings of Duncan Grant, but after meeting Coldstream he sharpened the social focus of his work and painted in a more formally disciplined manner. This way of working is evident in his best pictures, such as ...

Article

Martha Schwendener

[Ben Youseph Nathan, Esther Zeghdda]

(b London, Nov 21, 1869; d Brooklyn, NY, Nov 27, 1933).

American photographer. Born Esther Zeghdda Ben Youseph Nathan to a German mother and an Algerian father, she immigrated to the United States in 1895. She worked as a milliner in New York before opening a photographic portrait studio in 1897. Her ‘gallery of illustrious Americans’ featured actresses, politicians, and fashionable socialites, including President Theodore Roosevelt, author Edith Wharton, artist William Merritt Chase, and actress Julia Marlowe. Ben-Yusuf also created Pictorialist-inspired artwork like The Odor of Pomegranates (1899; see fig.), an allegory informed by the myth of Persephone and the idea of the pomegranate as a tantalizing but odourless fruit. Ben-Yusuf was included in an exhibition organized by the Linked Ring, Brotherhood of the in London in 1896 and continued to exhibit in the group’s annual exhibitions until 1902. Her photographs were exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1898 and at the Camera Club of New York in ...

Article

Simon Njami

(b Dire Dawa, Feb 15, 1951).

Ethiopian sculptor active in France. He attended the French-Ethiopian School, Addis Ababa, before moving to France in 1971. He first exhibited his papier mâché figures in France in 1985 and later in Brazil, South Africa and the USA. Although the motifs and themes that inspired him are not immediately recognizable, they have been described as totemic and based on Ethiopian sources, particularly Coptic paintings and the motif of the cross. His works have also been placed in the tradition of Jean Dubuffet and art brut, in part because of their simplified forms and highly expressive quality. His brightly coloured, non-naturalistic figures depict a variety of types – royalty, warriors, animals – and the saturated yellow, blue and fuchsia colours of the pieces seem at least as important as their playful forms. But it would be a mistake to classify Selassie's work as art brut. His intention is highly sophisticated, and the choice, for instance, of his medium, papier mâché is the result of a long quest and a decision to make a political statement about Africa in his use of rough materials that can found anywhere. In his view, European artistic canons, with their rules and habits, challenge Africans to find different ways to communicate their own souls. This view probably derived from his broad range of intellectual and spiritual interests, including chemistry and physics, anthropology, history, Zen and Yoga....

Article

Susan Kart

(b Mbarara, 1963).

Ugandan photographer, film maker, and installation artist of Indian descent, active in the UK. Bhimji was born in Uganda to Indian parents. The family fled Uganda to England in 1972 due to President Idi Amin’s expulsion of all Asians and Asian-Ugandans from the country along with seizure of their property and businesses as part of his ‘economic war’ on Asia. Bhimji studied art at Goldsmiths College and the Slade School of Art in London and her photographic work primarily consists of close-up, sometimes abstracted glimpses of seemingly abandoned spaces, objects, and landscapes. Bhimji’s work focuses on India and Uganda, which are treated as almost anthropomorphic subjects that appear restless, unfinished, abandoned, or frozen in her photographs, films, and film stills. Bhimji was one of four shortlisted finalists for the Turner Prize in 2007, and her work has been exhibited alongside such artists as El Anatsui, António Olé, Yinka Shonibare, and ...

Article

Carol Magee

(b Bulawayo, 1959).

Zimbabwean sculptor. Bickle studied at Durban University and Rhodes University. She showed extensively in Zimbabwe in the 1980s and exhibited in India, Sweden and New Zealand in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Active in the arts in Bulawayo, she was a founding member of its Visual Artists’ Association. Her pieces are philosophical, both specifically in that she cites Foucault and Yourcenar, and generically in that they comment on the human condition: on hopes, dreams, conflicts and fantasies. Made of multiple manufactured and natural materials, her simple forms speak to complex situations, as seen in A Carta de Gaspar Veloso I, in which writings on parchment are used in conjunction with maps to evoke colonial histories. Her work is in both private and public collections in the US, Britain and Europe.

Art from the Frontline: Contemporary Art from Southern Africa (Glasgow, 1990), p. 125 H. Lieros: ‘Earth, Water, Fire: Recent Works by Berry Bickle’, ...

Article

Simon Njami

(b Douala, 1962).

Cameroonian painter, sculptor and installation artist, active in France. He moved to Paris in 1974 and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts; he began exhibiting in the late 1980s, showing in France, Switzerland, Spain and Greece, among other places. Unlike many African artists living in Europe, he never felt dislocated. His sculptures, canvases and installation pieces combine all manner of found objects and other material that he manufactures himself. With these he comments on issues of representation and artistic practice in the Western world, at the same time evoking the presence and/or absence of humans, and therefore memory. The objects he uses are symbolic as well: eggs signify renewal, for instance. His compositions are simple and striking, as is his use of colour. In one work, for example, a ‘mummified’ figure appears on each side panel in the same thick white paint as the ground, holding a red rose against a metal plate. Against the black centre panel is an orange dress, under which are white flowers....

Article

James Smalls

The Black Arts Movement spans the period from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. Inherently and overtly political in content, it was an artistic, cultural and literary movement in America promoted to advance African American “social engagement.” In a 1968 essay titled “The Black Arts Movement,” African American scholar Larry Neal (1937–81) proclaimed it as the “artistic and spiritual sister of the Black Power concept.” The use of the term “Black Power” originated in 1966 with Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) civil rights workers Stokely Carmichael and Willie Ricks. Quickly adopted in the North, Black Power was associated with a militant advocacy of armed self-defense, separation from “racist American domination” and pride in and assertion of the goodness and beauty of “Blackness.”

In addition to “Black Power,” the slogan “Black is Beautiful” also became part of the Black Arts Movement and the Black Cultural Movement (also known as Black Aesthetics). The aim of these maxims was to counter and dispel the widespread notion throughout Western cultures that black people’s natural features, such as skin color, facial characteristics and hair, were inherently ugly. The central purpose was to subvert decades of anti-black rhetoric and “to make African Americans totally and irreversibly proud of their racial and cultural heritage.” Black Arts Movement cultural theorists and artists reasoned that promotion of a black aesthetic was mandatory to help the African American community perceive itself as not only beautiful, but also as proud of the legacy of African American achievement, self-determinacy and self-identification with all black peoples throughout the African diaspora. The tone was militant and separatist, not conciliatory and assimilationist, and resulted in a call for a revolutionary art that spoke to a definable black aesthetic. In ...