Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue
This week is a general introduction to the key themes of African art.
General Introduction & Key Texts
- Willet F African art, London: Thames and Hudson. – The original and to some extent still the best.
- Vansina 1984 Art history in Africa. London: Longmans – an interesting number of differing models and perspectives
- Gillon W 1991 A short history of African art. London: Penguin
- And by a group of authors who should know better – (although by far the most up to date general reader.) Visona M et al 2000 A history of art in Africa. London: T&H
- Rowland Abiodun, Henry John Drewal, John Pemberton III [eds] 1994, The Yoruba Artist, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC.
- Ezio Bassani and William Fagg 1988, Africa and the Renaisance, the Center for African Art, New York.
- Suzanne Preston Blier 1998, Royal Arts of Africa, Calman & King, London.
- Herbert Cole and Doran Ross 1977, The Arts of Ghana, University of California Los Angeles.
- Ima Ebong 1991, Negritude: between mask and flag; Senegalese cultural ideology and the ‘Ecole de Dakar’, in Susan Vogel, Africa Explores, Center for African Art, New York.
- David Elliot et al 1990, Art from South Africa, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford.
- Peter Garlake 2002, Early Art and Architecture of Africa, Oxford University Press.
- Anita Glaze 1981, Art and Death in a Senufo Village, University of Indiana.
- Robin Horton 1967, Kalabari Sculpture, Nigerian Museum Lagos.
- John Mack 1990, Emil Torday and the Art of the Congo, British Museum, London.
- Malcolm McLeod 1981, The Asante, British Museum London).
- Simon Ottenberg 1975, Masked Rituals of Afikpo, University of Washington, Seattle.
- John Pemberton III [ed] 2000, Insight and Artistry in African Divination, Smithsonian Inst., Washington DC.
- Ruth Phillips 1995, Representing Woman, University of California, Los Angeles.
- Tom Phillips [ed] 1995, Africa, the art of a continent, Royal Academy of Arts, London.
- John Picton & John Mack 1989, African Textiles, British Museum, London.
Week 2. Art/Artefact & Aesthetic Field
It might seem as if the imposition upon Africa of ideas of Fine Art as they emerge through the 18th century in Europe is very much part of the legacy of primitivism. Yet, not only is there no such thing as a (unified/timeless) "western conception of art," the consensus among philosophers of art in the "west" is that the definition of art depends upon the aesthetic field, ie on the perception, assessment and evaluation of the artefact in terms of its form.
- ** d'Azevedo W, 1957: A structural approach to aesthetics, American Anthropologist
- *Vogel S, 1988: ART/artifact, pp 1132, papers by Vogel and Danto. See also Gell A 1996 Art works as traps. Journal of Material Culture.
- **Kasfir S 1984 One Tribe, one style? Paradigms in the historiography of African Art. History in Africa 11 163-193.
- Also Kasfir 1992 African arts and authenticity ; a text without a shadow in African Arts 25 (2).
- Bohannan P, 1961, Artist & critic in an African society in M W Smith, The Artist in Tribal Society, pp 8594
- ** Fernandez J, 1973: The exposition & imposition of order, in W d'Azevedo [ed], The Traditional Artist in African Societies, pp 8594
- Cole H M, 1969: Art as a verb in Iboland, African Arts, III, 1
- Cole H M, 1982: Mbari ch 5, individuality, inspiration and aesthetics, pp 169182
- Maquet J, 1979: Art by metamorphosis, African Arts, XII, 4
- Frank B, 1998: Mande Potters and Leatherworkers
- D'Azevedo, 1957, was the first to explore these ideas from a place within African ethnography; and it would anyway be foolish to argue that aesthetic activity (and therefore `art' in the sense of things made that sustain formal and intellectual interest) was other than universal; but of course what is selected as worthy of this attention is locally specific. It follows that the ox (Nuer), the hoe (Ebira), and the yam heap (Tiv) are, or can be considered as, works of art. (Anyway they are works of an art, for ...) A thing can be useful and at the same time valued as form (and the words art', `craft', and `technology' have their origins in the Latin, AngloSaxon and Greek words for `skill').
- ** EvansPritchard E: 1940 The Nuer, pp 22, 3645
- Lienhardt G, 1961: Divinity and Experience, pp 1517
- Coote J, 1992: 'Marvels of everyday vision': the anthropology of aesthetics and the cattle keeping Nilotes, in J Coote & A Shelton [eds], Anthropology, Art and Aesthetics, pp 245273
- Bohannan P, 1954, Tiv Farm and Settlement, see Mounds pp 1617
- Picton J, 1990: The Ebira hoe: there is more to its `context' than digging the earth, in C Deliss [ed] Lotte or the Transformation of the Object (published as Durch 8/9, Kunstverein, Graz, Austria), p 56
- John Picton, 2004, On marking and masking in the art of Bruce Onobrakpeya, in Perkins Foss [ed], Where Gods and Mortals Meet: Continuity and Renewal in Urhobo Art, Museum for African Art, New York, 131-133.
Week 3. Technology, style, history
Textiles are at least as ubiquitous an art as any other; and at times textiles and dress have played a key role in definitions of ethnicity and nationality. In late 19th century Lagos, for example, the question of what to wear had precisely these significances and was vigorously debated among a middle class intelligentsia increasingly excluded from government by the colonial regime. Then, during the late 20th century Yoruba women have turned to weaving when other professions, such as school teaching have failed to provide them with work. As to the cloths themselves, the distinctive patterning known in the Niger delta as `tortoise cloth' ikakibite, is now proven as originating in the Yoruba speaking part of Nigeria (the earliest known example was collected in the 18th century and is in the Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, see Aronson 1980, p 96) and in turn to have set off developments elsewhere among women weaving on the upright single heddle loom. In contrast, aso oke, `uphill cloth' (ie cloth of a kind inherited from the past; or coming from inland; or having high status) is woven by Yoruba men on a narrow double heddle loom. Both ikakibite and aso oke appear to be flourishing; and part of the reason for this has to do with the manner in which they continue to function as participant elements in the history and constitution of ethnic and national identities. Ewe weavers from Ghana have also left their trace, especially in women's weaving but also, more recently (as Duncan Clarke has found), in aso oke.
- John Picton, 2004, What to Wear in West Africa: Textile Design, Dress and Self-Representation, in Carol Tulloch [ed], Black Style, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 23-47.
- John Picton et al, 1995, The Art of African Textiles: technology, tradition and lurex, Barbican Art Gallery, London.
- Doran H Ross et al, 1998, Wrapped in Pride, University of California Los Angeles, esp ch 8, Asante cloth names and motifs, 107-125.
- Picton J and J Mack 1989 African textiles. British Museum Press, London
- Perani J 1999 Cloth, dress and art patronage in Africa. Oxford.
- Lamb V 1975 West African Weaving. London.
- Meurant G1986 Shoowa: Textiles from the kingdom of Kuba.
- Friedman J 1992 The political economy of elegance. Culture and History 7. See also: Friedman (ed.) Consumption and identity. 1994. Amsterdam.
- ** Aronson L, 1980: History of cloth trade in the Niger Delta, Textile History, 11, pp 89107
- Aronson L, 1980: Patronage and Akwete weaving,Africau Arts, XII, 2
- Aronson L, 1982: Popo weaving, African Arts, XV, 3
- Aronson L, 1984: Women in the arts, in M J Hay & S Stichter, African Women, pp 119137
- Aronson L, 1992: Ijebu Yoruba aso olona, African Arts, XXV, 3, pp 5263
- ** Clarke D, 1996: Creativity and the process of innovation in Yoruba aso oke weaving, The Nigerian Field, 61, pp 90103 (The major source of data and commentary on) OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (HT 11/02/2021)
- Clarke D, 1998: Aso Oke: the evolving tradition of handwoven textile design among the Yoruba of southwesten Nigeria, unpublished PhD thesis
- Renne E, 1995: Cloth that does not die, , esp ch 2. 4, 6 OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (HT 11/02/2021)
- Perani J, 1992: The cloth connection: patrons and producers of Hausa and Nupe strip weave, in Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African Art, History, Design and Craft
- Lamb V & J Holmes, 1980: Nigerian Weaving
Supplement : Dying and Pattern
The concerns here are mostly with dyeing and printing: with Yoruba adire (and the nature of its takenforgranted "traditional" status), the developments known in Nigeria as kampala; Asante adinkra , and Fante appliqued flags. These cloths are among the local bases for the late 19thcentury reception of exotic fabrics based upon Indonesian wax batiks, and the rapid development of popular and distinctive patterns that provided a means of maintaining local tradition, proclaiming a modern identity and subverting colonial pretence. Since Independence, their manufacture has been largely transferred to West Africa, with just one factory left in England and one in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, their gentle subversiveness is developed in the work of Yinka Shonibare.
- ** Jackson G, 1971: The devolution of the Jubilee design, in J Barbour and D Simmonds [eds], Adire Cloth in Nigeria, pp 8393
- Barbour J, 1970: Nigerian `Adire' cloths, BaesslerArchiv, vol xviii
- Cole H & D Ross, 1977: The Arts of Ghana, pp 186199 (Fante war company flags)
- ** Picton J, 1995: Technology, tradition and lurex, in Barbican Art Gallery,The Art of African Textiles: Technology, Tradition and Lurex and the other essays
- Bickford K, 1994: The ABCs of cloth and politics in Côte d'Ivoire, Africa Today, 2nd Quarter Domowitz S, 1992: Wearing proverbs: Anyi names for printed cloth, African Arts, XXV, 3
- Enwezor O, 1999: Tricking the mind, in Ikon Gallery, Yinka Shonibare: Dressing Down pp 818
Week 4. What’s in a Mask?
Using the word `mask' of works of art in Africa might seem obvious enough; and yet it cannot be straightforward, nor can its implications be taken for granted. For `mask' is a word, an idea, a metaphor, and an artefact, each with its history within a European history of ideas. Following on, therefore, from last week we consider the relationship between person, persona, and `mask', and we try to answer the question: exactly what does, or is supposed to, happen when someone puts on a mask? A supplementary concern is with the relationship between the words `mask' and `masquerade.' However, Kasfir 1988 shows that these are not the only questions to be asked. I will be posting my unpublished manuscript No Event No History: Politics and performance in Ekiti masquerade on the VLE. You may dip into it, read it, give me feedback or just ignore it entirely!
- ** Picton J, 1990: What's in a mask, African Language and Culture, 3, 2, pp 181202
- ** Picton J, 1996: The masque of words, in K Arnaut & E Dell [eds], Bedu is my Lover, pp 58
- Gore, C 2008 'Masks and Modernities.' African Arts, 41 (4). 1, 4-7. You can usefully read all the papers in this volume, but you might want to look at Rea especially.
- Picton J, 2000: Two masks from the Yorubaspeaking region; in K Arnaut [ed], ReVisions: New Perspectives on the African Collections of the Horniman Museum pp 171187
- Rea W, 2000: Masks and styles: Yoruba masquerade in a regional perspective, also in Arnaut, ReVisions ... pp 159170
- Jedrej M C, 1980: A comparison of some masks from North America, Africa and Oceania, Journal of Anthropological Research, XXXVI, 2, pp 220230 1986: Dan and Mende masks: a structural comparison, Africa, pp 7179
- d'Azevedo W, 1973: Mask Makers and Myth in Western Liberia, in A Forge [ed], Primitive Art & Society, pp 126150
- Horton R, 1960: The Gods as Guests (NB the three modes of dramatic presentation)
- Biebuyck D, 1973: Lega Culture, pp 210214
W Rea The Ẹpa masquerades of Èkìtì: a structural approach – on VLE
- Fischer E, 1978: Dan forest spirits, African Arts, X, 2, pp 2227
- Fischer E & H Himmelheber, 1984: The Arts of the Dan
- Kasfir S, 1988: West African Masks and Cultural Systems, intro pp 116
Masks and Powers
- ** Siroto L, 1972: Gon: a mask used in competition for leadership among the BaKwele; in Fraser D & H M Cole [eds], African Art and Leadership
- ** Horton R, 1966: Igbo: an ordeal for aristocrats, Nigeria, 90 OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (HT 11/02/2021)
- Strother Z, 1998: Inventing Masks, ch 8, masks in the colonial period, pp 229263
- McNaughton P, 1979:Secret Sculptures of Komo: Working Papers in the Traditional Arts, 4
- Brain R & A Pollock, 1971: Bangwa Funerary Sculpture, esp pp 117136
- Phillips R, 1995:Representing Woman, ch 3, structure and set in Mendemasquerades, pp 5172
- Drewal H J et al, 1978: The arts of egungun. African Arts, XI, p 3
- Olajubu O & J R O Ojo, 1977: Some aspects of Oyo Yoruba masquerades, Africa
- Gotrick K, 1984: Apidan Theatre and Modern Drama
- Tonkin E, 1979: Masks and powers, Man
Week 5. Gender, power and play
Date 21st February
It is characteristic of masquerade throughout Africa, with rare exceptions (see below), that women are in some sense placed socially by their exclusion, more or less, from performance. However, particular traditions of masking practice differ substantially from one another in the manner and substance of that exclusion. In some, there may be a theory justifying their seemingly complete exclusion from all aspects of performance and knowledge. In other traditions their participation may be no more than singing the songs and providing the audience, and yet they can know all there is to be known women. In other words the appearance of secrecy may be no more than that, serving only to heighten dramatic impact; but, even then, traditions differ in regard to purpose and intention. Though masked performances in the practice of Ebira eku, Yoruba efegelede, and Afikpo Igbo okumkpa share some common features, they differ markedly in terms of the status of the masks, the reality and significance of secrecy, the intentions presupposed in performance, and so forth.
In the forests of Sierra Leone and Liberia there are adjacent peoples (see R Phillips 1995, 36 37) of diverse origins and speaking languages of differing groups, but each with contrasting male and female initiation organisations that each entail masked performances. The women's organisation, Sande (or Bondo), is thus one of the very few cases wherein women are responsible for the procedures of mask/masquerade commissioning, ownership and performance (everything except for carving the mask, a fact that, at least in the Gola case, is problematic for the sculptor).
- ** Phillips R, 1995: Representing Woman, chs 46, the masquerades of Sande, etc, pp 77134
- **Jedrej M C, 1974: An analytical note on the land and spirits of the Sewa Mende, Africa, 44, 1, pp 3845
- **Jedrej M C, 1976: Medicine, fetish and secret society in a West African culture, Africa, 46, 3, pp 247257
- ** Picton J, 1988: Some Ebira reflexions on the energies of women, African Languages and Cultures, 1, 1, pp 6176
- Picton J, 1997: On (men?) placing women in Ebira,in F E S Kaplan [ed] Queens, Queen Mothers, Priestesses and Power, pp 337369
- ** Lawal B, 1996: The Gelege Spectacle, ch 3 ipilese & ch 5 iran, pp 3770, 98162
- Drewal H J, 1974: Efe: voiced power and pageantry, African Arts, VII, 2, pp 2629, 5866
- Drewal H J, 1974: Gelede masquerade..., African Arts, VII, 4, pp 819
- Drewal H J, & M T Drewal, 1975: Gelede dance..., African Arts, VIII, 2, pp 3645
- Drewal H J, & M T Drewal, 1983: Gelede: Art and Female Power among the Yoruba
- ** Ottenberg S, 1972: Humorous masks and serious politics, in D Fraser & H M Cole (eds), African Art and Leadership
- Ottenberg S, 1975: Masked Rituals of Afikpo, part II, chs viviii, pp 87143
- Ojo J R O, 1978: The symbolism and significance of Epatype masquerade headpieces, Man
- Rea W, 2000: Masks and styles: Yoruba masquerade in a regional perspective, in K Arnaut [ed], ReVisions: New Perspectives on the African Collections in the Horniman Museum, pp 159170 (see also Picton, Two masks pp 171187)
- Strother Z, 1998: Inventing Masks: agency and history in the art of the Central Pende, ch 5, Pende theories of physiognomy and gender, pp 101137
- ** d'Azevedo W, 1973: Mask Makers and Myth in Western Liberia, in A Forge [ed], Primitive Art & Society, pp 126150
- d'Azevedo W, 1973a, Sources of Gola artistry, in W d'Azevedo [ed], The Traditional Artist in African Societies, pp 282340
- Jedrej M C, 1976a: Structural aspects of a West African secret society, Journal of Anthropological Research, 32, pp 234245
- Boone S A, 1986: Radiance from the Waters: ideals of feminine beauty in Mende art
- Lamp F, 1985: Cosmos, Cosmetics and the spirit of Bondo, African Arts XVIII, 3 see also his review of Boone in African Arts, XX, 2, pp 1726
- Aronson L, 1984: Women in the arts, in M J Hay & S Stichter [eds] African Women, pp 11913
- MacCormack C P, 1980: Protosocial to adult: a Sherbro transformation, in C MacCormack & M Strathern [eds], Nature, Culture and Gender, pp 95118
Week 6. Yoruba carving, aesthetics and ethnicity
In the study of African art, Robert Farris Thompson was the first to investigate the aesthetic criteria motivating Yoruba art; and from this he proceeded to develop a pan African aesthetic. In both he was widely acclaimed; and criticised, and for a variety of reasons. Cole, for example, writes that he confuses descriptive and evaluative criteria. The underlying problem may well be, of course, that it is vitiated from the outset by assuming the existence of what it sets out to prove; but at least Thompson shows that Yoruba sculptural form can be described in Yoruba words; and comparison with Norton's account of Kalabari provides useful insight in regard to matters of form.
The ritual and cult traditions of the Yorubaspeaking peoples inherited from the past survive, moreorless, notwithstanding the success of Islamic and Christian missionary activity. Participation therein is concerned with the procedures of engagement with the energy of a deity to effect changes in the circumstances of one's life. We consider the poetics and practices of Yoruba divination, Ifa; the role of the trickster, Eshu; and the work of Shango, the deity manifest in thunder and lightening. Each deity has distinctive cult and sculptural forms; but (as one might expect) we discover problems in their iconographic exegesis. For `when Yoruba people say that they perform ritual "just like" their ancestors did it in the past, improvisation is implicit ... the progression of the action as well as the meanings it generates are unfixed ...' (Drewal 1992, 23).
- ** Thompson R F, 1971: Aesthetics in traditional Africa, in C Jopling [ed], Art and Aesthetics in Primitive Societies, pp 374381
- Thompson R F, 1974: African Art in Motion, pp 145
For critical accounts of Thompson's work see (and read at least one of these):
- Cole H M, 1982: Mbari, ch 5 pp 169182
- Hallen B, 1979: The art historian as conceptual analyst, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (a photocopy used to be in the library)
- Armstrong R G, 1981: review of Thompson's African Art in Motion, in Researches in African Literatures, 12, 4
For other attempts to account for the formal attributes of Yoruba art traditions see:
- ** Abiodun R, 1990: The future of African art studies: an African perspective, in African Art Studies: the State of the Discipline, National Museum of African Art, Washington DC, pp 6386
- Abiodun R, 1994a: An African (?) art history: promising theoretical approaches in Yoruba art studies, in R Abiodun, H J Drewal & J Pemberton III [eds], The Yoruba Artist, pp 3748
- Abiodun R, 1994b: Understanding Yoruba art & aesthetics, the concept of ase, African Arts, XXVII, 3, pp 6878
- Abiodun R, & H J Drewal, J Pemberton III, 1991: Yoruba: art and aesthetics in Nigeria (Museum Rietberg, Zurich) esp pp 1213, 2028
- Lawal B, 1974: Some aspects of Yoruba aesthetics, Br. Journal of Aesthetics, 14, pp 239249
- Lawal B, 1996: The Gelede Spectacle, chs 6 (costume aesthetics), 7 (sculpted messages), and 9 (critical perspectives) pp163282 (esp 255282)
- ** Carroll K, 1964: `who said his work is like a box,' reprinted as postscript 2 in Picton 1994a, in Abiodun, Drewal & Pemberton [eds], The Yoruba Artist, pp 2931
- Carroll K, 1967: Yoruba Religious Carving, pp 7999
- Drewal H J, 1988: Beauty and being.. ., in A Rubin [ed], Marks of Civilization
- Drewal H J, M T & H J, 1987: Composing time and space in Yoruba art, Word & Image, a Journal of Verbal/Visual Enquiry, 3, 3, pp 22551
For the sculptural tradition of Ekiti and Opin, to which much of this discussion refers see:
- Walker R A, 1998: Olowe of Ise: a Yoruba Sculptor to Kings, esp pp 1333
- Picton J, 1994a: Art, identity, and identification: a commentary on Yoruba art historical studies, in Abiodun, Drewal & Pemberton [eds], The Yoruba Artist, pp 131
- Picton J, 1994b: Sculptors of Opin, African Arts, XXVII, 3, 4659
- W Rea Unpublished – The woodcarvers of Ekiti – on VLE.
On Yoruba ethnicity
- Peel, J.D.Y. 'The cultural work of Yoruba ethnogenesis', in History and Ethnicity, Tonkin, E.,M. McDonald & M. Chapman (eds.), London: Routledge, 1989, pp. 198-215.
- Rea W The Kings Horseman: Yoruba identity and European colonialism. On VLE.
- Peel, J.D.Y. (1997) 'A Comparative Analysis of Ogun in pre-colonial Yorubaland.' In: S, ed, (ed.), Africa''s Ogun - Old World and New. UNSPECIFIED, pp. 263-289.
- Peel JDY Religious encounter and the making of the Yoruba and Yoruba ethnogenesis
- ** Abiodun R, 1974: Ifa art objects: an interpretation based on oral tradition, in W Abimbola [ed], Yoruba Oral Tradition, pp 421469
- Abiodun R, 2000: Riding the horse of praise ... Ifa divination sculpture, in J Pemberton III [ed], Insight and Artistry in African Divination, pp 182192 (see also Pemberton's introduction, pp 19)
- ** Wescott J & P Morton Williams, 1962: The symbolism and ritual context of the Yoruba laba shango, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
- Wescott J, 1962: The sculpture and myths of Eshuelgba, Africa, XXXIII, pp 336353
- Parsons S W, 1999: Interpreting projections, projecting interpretations: a reconsideration of the "phallus" in Esu iconography, African Arts, XXXII, 2, 3645
- Drewal M T, 1992: Yoruba Ritual: performers, play, agency, esp chs 2, 4, 10
The best general introduction to Yoruba studies is probably still:
- Eades J S, 1980: The Yoruba Today esp chs 2 & 6
In addition to the references already given, here is some further reading in the visual arts:
- Morton Williams P, 1960: Yoruba responses to the fear of death, Africa, XXX, pp 3440
- Morton Williams P, 1960a:The Yoruba Ogboni cult in Oyo, Africa, XXX, pp 362374
- Morton Williams P, 1964: The cosmology and cult organisation of the Oyo Yoruba, Africa, XXXIV, pp 243261
- Morton Williams P, 1967: The Yoruba kingdom of Oyo, in D Forde & P M Kaberry [eds], West African Kingdoms in the Nineteenth Century, pp 3666
- Bascom W, 1969: Ifa Divination: communication between gods & men
- Williams D, 1974: Icon & Image, chs 18, pp 148
- Pemberton J, 1975: Eshuelegba. . ., African Arts, IX, 7
- Abimbola W, 1976: Ifa: an Exposition of Ifa Literary Corpus
- Fagg W, J Pemberton & B Holcombe, 1982: Yoruba Sculpture of West Africa
- Witte H, 1984: Ifa and Esu; also see Pemberton review in African Arts, XVIII, 2
- Gates H L jnr, 1988: The Signifying Monkey, ch 1, pp 343
- Drewal H J, J Pemberton & R Abiodun, 1989: Yoruba: Nine Centuries of Art . . .
Week 7. Edo Art: visual metaphor and representations of authority
The art of Benin, or, to give it its proper name, Edo, the city, kingdom and empire in the forest to the west of the lower Niger, comprises several thousand objects, now largely scattered through the museums of Europe and America following the British Punitive Expedition of 1897. This corpus raises many issues of significance in the study of art in Africa, not least the manner in which art participates in the constitution, understanding and articulation of institutions of authority. Here we consider the metaphorical connotations of particular animals, colours and materials in these processes, while the ikegobo (altar of the hand) also provides insight into aspects of the strategies for the acquisition of that authority. Moreover, a comparative study of the cult of the hand (or arm: it is characteristically the same word) in the lower Niger region as it is found in the Igbo and Igala speaking areas also, helps us to understand differences in the nature and articulation of authority, as also the constitution of Edo chiefly orders.
- Drewal and Shildkrout 2010 Kingdom of Ife: Sculptures from West Africa British Museum Press.
- ** Bradbury R, 1961: Ezomo's ikegobo and the Benin cult of the hand, Man (old style) pp 129137: also reprinted in Bradbury 1973, Benin Studies (the pictures are better in Man)
- ** BenAmos P Girshick, 1976: Men and Animals in Benin Art, Man, pp 243252
- BenAmos P Girshick, 1995: The Art of Benin [2nd ed, & the best short intro to this art]
- BenAmos P Girshick, & A Rubin, [eds] 1983: The Art of Power: The Power of Art
- Boston J, 1977: Ikenga
- Blier S P, 1998: Royal Arts of Africa.
- Ezio Bassani & William Fagg, 1988, Africa and the Renaissance, Center for African Art, New York; esp chs 1 & 2.
- Nigel Barley, 1987, Pop art in Africa? The Kalabari ancestral screens, Art History, 10, 369-380; and/or 1988, Foreheads of the Dead, National Museum of African Art, Washington DC
- John Picton, 1997, Edo art, dynastic myth and intellectual aporia, African Arts, XXX, 4, 18-25
- Gore, Charles (1997) 'Casting Identities in Contemporary Benin City.' African Arts, 30 (3). pp. 54-61.
- Gore, Charles (2007) Art, Performance and Ritual in Benin City. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Week 8. Visual and Material Tropes in West and Central African Sculpture
Figures of speech have their visual analogues (indeed, the greater the dependence of written or spoken language on rhetorical figures, the more that text approaches the conditions of an 'art'); and, as we should now understand from last week, this is significant in any attempt to enter the intellectual worlds presupposed and entailed in artworks in Africa. This week we advance the discussion by contrasting visual tropes (especially visual metaphors), which might be said to be about knowledge, with the preparation of `magical medicines' which reveals an imaginative art of the material metaphor capable of actualization as energy. This discussion, while it takes off from previous material, especially about Ebira masquerade and Edo art, introduces Kuba (Mack, Vansina) and Kongo (Mack, MacGaffey, etc) imagery; and having argued that artefacts are inert but for the lives we `project' on to them, here we seem to encounter another theory (we have also already encountered a Kalabari theory of images as `names') in which images are implicated in the covert effects of energies that, once we have brought them into existence, might also have the ability to act independently. Does this argue against a theory of images as literally inert?
- ** Mack J, 1981: Animal representations in Kuba art, The Oxford Art Journal, 4, 2, pp 5056
- Mack J, 1991: Emil Torday and the Art of the Congo
- Vansina J, 1972: Ndop: royal statues among the Kuba, in D Fraser & H M Cole [eds], African Art and Leadership, pp 4153
- Roberts M N & A F, et al, 1996: Memory: Luba Art and the Making of History ch 6, memory in motion, pp 177206
- Fernandez J, 1995: Meditating on animals figuring out humans, in A Roberts & C Thompson, Animals in African Art, pp 89
- ** Mack J, 1995: Fetish? Magic figures in central Africa, in A Shelton [ed], Fetishism, Visualising Power and Desire, pp 5365.
- ** MacGaffey W, 1993: The eyes of understanding, in W MacGaffrey & M Harris, Astonishment and Power, pp 20103
- MacGaffey W, 1977: Fetishism revisited: Kongo Nkishi . Africa
- MacGaffey W, 1986: Religion and Society in Central Africa, pp 135168
- MacGaffey W, 2000: The cultural traditions of the African forests, in J Pemberton III [ed] Insight and Artistry in African Divination, pp 1324 (indeed it would be worth reading as many papers herein as you can)
- Phillips T [ed], 1995:Africa, the art of a continent, entries 4.64.11 pp 244248
- Mirzoeff N, 1999: An Introduction to Visual Culture, ch 4, Transculture: from Kongo to the Congo, pp 129159
- Huber H, 1956: Magical statues, Anthropos
- Blier S P, 1995: African Vodun, chs 3 & 6, pp 95132, 205238
- Blier S P, 1998: Royal Arts of Africa, ch 5, Kongo and Kuba, pp201248
Week 9. Can Images Speak?
We talk about images as if they could act and talk, which are literal impossibilities: works of art are inert; they "live" only insofar as we impart a sort of life to them (and there are many ways in which this can be done, of course). It is as if we are seduced by the images we make (remember Pinocchio); and we are also seduced by language into the commonplace assumption of a likeness (a homology, indeed) between 'art' and 'language', a likeness that is in reality a metaphor of limited value; and if it is taken literally, it only serves to diminish art. In this context 'meaning' seem to be just another limitation upon art; and matters are not made easier by the manner in which all language about art aspires to the condition of art. Although there is that school of cultural studies that begins with language and makes it the paradigm of all communication, if we begin with the visual arts this can be seen to be deeply unsatisfactory.
- Gell A, 1998: Art and Agency: an anthropological theory, ch 1 the need for an anthropology of art pp 111, esp section 1.2 pp 57
- Hoffman R, 1995: African Arts Objects and acts, pp 5659
- Picton, J, 1995: the essential artifact, pp 8485; and R Hoffman's rejoinder; all in African Arts, XXVIII, 2
- Fardon R, 1990: Between God, the Dead and the Wild: Chamba interpretations of ritual and religion, chs 8, inanimate wilderness and the nature of things, pp 170185; & 10, God and the dead: locating the unknown, pp 217226
- Barley N, 1989: The linguistic image in the interpretation of African objects, African Languages and Cultures, I, 2
- Davis W, 1989: review of H J Drewal [ed] 1988: Object and Intellect: interpretations of meaning in African art, in African Arts, XXII, 4, pp 2432
- Abiodun R, 1987: Verbal and visual metaphors: mythical allusions ... art of Ori, Word & Image, a Journal of Verbal/Visual Enquiry, 3, 3, pp 25270, 22551
- Loughran K S, et al [eds], 1986: Somalia in Word and Image, esp pp 2032
- Barley N, 1983: Symbolic Structures, ch 23, pp 1038
- LewisWilliams J D, 1983: The Rock Art of Southern Africa, at least pp 4464. NB also his Believing & Seeing
- McLeod M, 1978: Aspects of Asante images,in M Greenhalgh & V Megaw, Art in Society
- Asiwaju A I, 1974: 'Efe songs as a source of western Yoruba history', in W Abimbola [ed], Yoruba Oral Tradition and not forgetting the references to Lawal, Ojo, above
- * Sperber D, 1974: Rethinking Symbolism, esp pp 78, 70, 87
This list was last updated on 26/01/2021