Posts Tagged 'African Art'



Remaking the Arts of Africa Gallery

My name is Edleeca Thompson and I am the curatorial research assistant for the Arts of Africa Reinstallation Project, sponsored by the Texas Fund for Curatorial Research. The research for the reinstallation project involves photographing gallery spaces and observing the use of technology and interactive media, as well as visitor responses, in order to ascertain the “best practices” in exhibition design for African art. I am also collecting information on educational programs, activities, and events that support a more innovative approach to the representation and interpretation of African art. This information will be used for the upcoming reinstallation of the DMA’s Arts of Africa gallery in the fall of 2013.

Since June 2011, Roslyn Walker, Senior Curator and The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art, and I have visited twenty museums (together or separately) in the United States and Europe for this project. For me, the most impressive displays are at the Louvre (Paris), the Musée Rietberg (Zürich), the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum (Cologne), and the Museum Aan de Stroom (Antwerp).

Musée du Louvre, Porte des Lions, Paris, France

In Paris we toured the Pavillon des Sessions, where African art has been presented at the Louvre since 2000. The first picture shows the cool and serenely elegant African gallery at the Louvre. Although the Louvre is most known for its vast collection of masterpieces of Western art, the arts of Africa and Oceania have become increasingly popular with the general public. In response to public demand for more information on the objects, the museum added more labels and portable laminated information cards that visitors can take with them as they tour the galleries.

Museum Rietberg, Zurich, Switzerland

The Rietberg Museum also follows the tendency toward cool elegance, but with more color contrast in their restrained, yet intimately formal, spaces.

Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, Cologne, Germany

The Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum carries spatial intimacy even further in an exhibit that explores the theme of death and the afterlife. The serene, contemplative environment, with its white walls, cushy flooring, featherlike ceiling, and soft, ambient music, evokes otherworldly experiences of the afterlife. The visitor approaches the gallery in stages before entering a large, veiled space. In order to view some of the objects, it is necessary to part the veil in front of the display case.

Museum aan de Stroom, Antwerp, Belgium

The Museum Aan de Stroom, which houses the ethnographic, maritime, folklife, and Antwerp history collections, by far exceeded all expectations regarding the use of technology. Here, the visitor is surrounded by multimedia devices.

Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, Illinois

The Art Institute of Chicago’s newly reinstalled gallery features a number of sculptures displayed in the round. The gallery also incorporates videos of ritual performances and still photographs of artists at work, as well as a historical timeline that parallels the cultural developments of both Europe and Africa.

Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California

The African collection at the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, was reinstalled in 2012 and includes objects ranging from pre-dynastic Egypt to the mid-20th century. Themes of body adornment, economics, and the afterlife are addressed through time and space.

All in all, being given this opportunity to travel and work with Dr. Walker has been a total blast! I’m excited for the DMA in anticipation of making the Arts of Africa exhibit more appealing and engaging for visitors for years to come.

Edleeca Thompson is Curatorial Research Assistant at the DMA.

Friday Photos: African Headwear

As I’ve mentioned before on our blog, I love the DMA’s African collection.  Below are photos of some of my favorite hats in African Headwear: Beyond Fashion, an exhibition currently on view at the Museum.  Some of these hats are from the DMA’s collection, but there are also many loans and new acquisitions in the exhibition.  I think my absolute favorite is the Royal Messenger’s Headdress from Cameroon.  I love the bold shape and purple dye!

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I’m looking forward to the arrival of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk in November–I think it will be fun to compare his fashion designs with some of the works of art in African Headwear.  I already have ideas for our next installment of Provocative Comparisons!

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

Seldom Scene: A Tip of the Hat

African Headwear: Beyond Fashion opened yesterday and will be on view through January 1, 2012. The exhibition celebrates the artistry of African decorative design and initiates us into the world of fashion a few months before we host Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. Below are a few images showing the preparation that went into creating the African Headwear exhibition.

Seldom Scene – A Penguin’s Night at the Museum

To help us celebrate our exhibition African Masks: The Art of Disguise, the Dallas Zoo’s Animal Adventure Program made an appearance at Friday’s Late Night with a few animals that call Africa home. Donny, the Black-footed Penguin, was a big hit with the DMA staff (see the BIG smiles) and with visitors too.

New Acquisitions in African Collection

Two works of art from the Asante peoples in Ghana are now part of the DMA’s collection and are currently on view in the African galleries.  Both works of art were made for Asante chiefs and relate to proverbs.

The Linguist Staff has a finial which refers to an Asante proverb that states, “one who climbs a good tree always gets a push,” that is, if a chief’s intentions are good and fair, he will have the support of his people.  A ruler owns several linguist staffs in order to display the one that best visualizes the message he wishes to convey to his people at a particular time.

The Sword ornament in the form of a lion is a hollow cast gold sculpture.  Similar to linguist staff finials, the imagery on sword ornaments is meaningful.  The lion, for example, is an emblem for the bravery of the chief.  A proverb states, “If the lion has no intention to attack, it will not show its teeth before you,” advising a person to heed the warnings of a chief.  This lion’s teeth are bared.

Visit the Museum soon to see these new acquisitions!

Molly Kysar
Head of Teaching Programs

Linguist staff (okyeame poma), Ghana, Asante peoples, first half of 20th century, wood and gold leaf, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 2010.1.McD

Linguist staff (okyeame poma) (detail), Ghana, Asante peoples, first half of 20th century, wood and gold leaf, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 2010.1.McD

 Sword ornament in the form of a lion, Ghana, Nsuta State, Asante peoples, c. mid-20th century, cast gold and felt, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 2010.2.McD

Members Celebrate African Masks

Last Friday we posted to our blog that it takes several weeks to install an exhibition, and they are planned many months (if not years) in advance. Once the Museum’s membership department knows when exhibitions will open, we start scheduling our preview events.

This past weekend was busy; we hosted three previews! Over 1,000 DMA members took the opportunity to tour African Masks: The Art of Disguise before opening day.

In addition to greeting members at the exhibition and assisting them with the new smARTphone tour, we hosted the first Members Lounge at Late Nights. Some of you may remember that when the we presented the King Tut exhibition, DMA members were able to take a break from the crowds in a separate lounge area. We decided to bring the concept back during Late Nights. If you are a member and plan to visit during the September Late Night, stop by the Members Lounge at Late Nights for a snack and some additional fun. And please be sure to say hello!

The Arts of Africa at the DMA

November has been an exciting month at the DMA—several of us attended the Texas Art Education Association conference last week, we’ve had a busy month with tours, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. However, the most exciting event (and the one for which I am most thankful) is the publication of a brand new catalogue spotlighting the Museum’s African collection: The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art.

The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art

Written by our curator of African Art, Dr. Roslyn Adele Walker, the catalogue has been published to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the DMA’s first acquisition of African art in 1969. The catalogue highlights 110 works of art in our collection and includes beautiful photography of the objects.  Contextual photos have also been included to illustrate how many of the objects would have been (and in many cases still are) used in Africa.

Four years ago, before I was Tour Coordinator at the DMA, I worked with Roz as a McDermott Graduate Curatorial Intern. Over the course of my year with Roz, I contacted many scholars and photographers asking for permission to use their contextual photographs in the catalogue. I also researched various works of art, including our Egungun costume (which I blogged about in September), and I love finally seeing everything in print! This is an exciting moment for the DMA, but also for Roz, and I couldn’t be happier for her.

To celebrate the publication of The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art, Roz will give a brief talk, followed by a book signing, on Thursday December 10th at 7:00 pm. I hope you’ll join us in the Center for Creative Connections Theater to learn more about our African collection, and to congratulate Roz on this wonderful accomplishment.

Shannon Karol
Tour Coordinator


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