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[tribal art]

The market for ‘tribal art’ emerged in the first decades of the 20th century. By way of avant-garde artists and pioneering dealers, African and Oceanic art slowly became accepted as ‘art’—with its inclusion in the Musée du Louvre in Paris in 2000 as a decisive endorsement. Initially, it was referred to as ‘primitive art’—alluding to an early ‘primitive’ stage in human development; later replaced by the equally biased ‘tribal art’. While still used widely among dealers and collectors (for want of a better word and being conveniently short), the term ‘tribe’, or its derivative ‘tribal’, is frowned upon by the scholarly community.

The foundations of the tribal art market were laid at the turn of the 20th century. European powers colonized large overseas territories in both Africa and Oceania and, along with other commodities, there arrived ethnographic artefacts. Europeans had conducted coastal trade with many African regions over centuries, but systematic explorations of the continental hinterland did sometimes not take place until the first decades of the 20th century. These resulted in the discovery of previously unknown cultures whose ritual objects, such as masks, were displayed during world’s fairs and colonial exhibitions. Many of these objects ended up in newly established museums, such as the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, outside Brussels. Vigorous competitors in the collection of ethnographic objects in both Africa and Oceania, these museums became the leading players in the early phases of the tribal art market’s development. Next to these large-scale official collecting activities, colonial, military, or missionary personnel also brought home exotic objects....

Article

Noémie Goldman and Kim Oosterlinck

Term for the return of lost or looted cultural objects to their country of origin, former owners, or their heirs. The loss of the object may happen in a variety of contexts (armed conflicts, war, colonialism, imperialism, or genocide), and the nature of the looted cultural objects may also vary, ranging from artworks, such as paintings and sculptures, to human remains, books, manuscripts, and religious artefacts. An essential part of the process of restitution is the seemingly unavoidable conflict around the transfer of the objects in question from the current to the former owners. Ownership disputes of this nature raise legal, ethical, and diplomatic issues. The heightened tensions in the process arise because the looting of cultural objects challenges, if not breaks down, relationships between peoples, territories, cultures, and heritages.

The history of plundering and art imperialism may be traced back to ancient times. Looting has been documented in many instances from the sack by the Romans of the Etruscan city of Veii in ...

Article

Christine Clark

(b Ismâilîya, Egypt, Jan 18, 1921; d Sydney, Nov 24, 1973).

Australian painter and museum administrator. He studied at Hornsey School of Art, London, and at Kingston School of Art (1937–40). After serving as a fighter pilot in World War II he continued his studies from 1947 to 1949 at the National Art School, East Sydney Technical College. In 1950 he began working as an attendant at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney but within a year was appointed assistant to the Director. He held this position, retitled Deputy Director in 1957, until his death. He painted all his life, but his career as a painter was overshadowed by his administrative job. He was responsible for the curating and building up of the fine collection of aboriginal and Melanesian art in the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

During his lifetime Tuckson had only two one-man exhibitions, in 1970 and 1973 at the Watters Gallery, Sydney. Influenced by Picasso, Klee, and de Kooning, American Abstract Expressionists and aboriginal art, his art progressed from portrait and figurative studies through to Abstract Expressionist works. It is for these later works that he is admired as one of Australia’s best ...