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The Scramble for Art in Central Africa

The Scramble for Art in Central Africa


Enid Schildkrout, Curtis A. Keim, David A. Binkley, Patricia J. Darish, John Mack, Johannes Fabian, Christraud M. Geary, Mary Jo Arnoldi, Wyatt MacGaffey
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  • Date Published: April 1998
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521586788

£ 33.99

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About the Authors
  • Western attitudes to Africa have been influenced to an extraordinary degree by the arts and artefacts that were brought back by the early collectors, exhibited in museums, and celebrated by scholars and artists in the metropolitan centres. The contributors to this volume trace the life history of artefacts that were brought to Europe and America from Congo towards the end of the nineteenth century, and became the subjects of museum displays. They also present fascinating case studies of the pioneering collectors, including such major figures as Frobenius and Torday. They discuss the complex and sensitive issues involved in the business of 'collecting', and show how the collections and exhibitions influenced academic debates about the categories of art and artefact, and the notion of authenticity, and challenged conventional aesthetic values, as modern Western artists began to draw on African models.

    • A major contribution to the literature, inserting rich detail into the picture of what turn-of-the-century collecting was all about
    • Includes case studies of the work of pioneering collectors e.g. Frobenius, Torday
    • Reveals how western attitudes to Africa have been influenced by the art brought back for museum exhibits
    • Contributors include many well-known and highly regarded authors, figures in museum anthropology
    • Museum studies growing subfield of art history, anthropology
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The Scramble for Art in Central Africa makes a major contribution to deepening our understanding of Central Africa through deepening our understanding of how our view of it has been constructed. Prospective readers should be further encouraged by the fact that the prose is clear and accessible throughout and the production excellent, with well-chosen illustrations.' The Times Literary Supplement

    'The essays in this book provide us with a quite excellent introduction to the ways in which the art - or the craft - of 'others' was comprehended over time by western artists and scholars.' History Today

    '… a volume which will certainly sit in many libraries amongst the essential reads of the history of collecting in all its applications.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 1998
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521586788
    • length: 272 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.44kg
    • contains: 29 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures
    List of contributors
    1. Objects and agendas: re-collecting the Congo Enid Schildkrout and Curtis A. Keim
    2. 'Enlightened but in darkness': interpretations of Kuba art and culture at the turn of the twentieth century David A. Binkley and Patricia J. Darish
    3. Kuba art and the birth of ethnography John Mack
    4. Curios and curiosity: notes on reading Torday and Frobenius Johannes Fabian
    Appendix: on the ethnography and economics of collecting, from Leo Frobenius' Nochmals zu den Bakubavölkern Johannes Fabian
    5. Artes Africanae: the western discovery of 'art' in northeastern Congo Curtis A. Keim
    6. Nineteenth-century images of the Mangbetu in explorers' accounts Christaud M. Geary
    7. Personal styles and disciplinary paradigms: Frederick Starr and Herbert Lang Enid Schildkrout
    8. Where art and ethnology met: the Ward African collection at the Smithsonian Mary Jo Arnoldi
    9. 'Magic, or as we usually say, art': a framework for comparing European and African art Wyatt MacGaffey

  • Editors

    Enid Schildkrout, Museum for African Art, New York

    Curtis A. Keim, Moravian College, Pennsylvania


    Enid Schildkrout, Curtis A. Keim, David A. Binkley, Patricia J. Darish, John Mack, Johannes Fabian, Christraud M. Geary, Mary Jo Arnoldi, Wyatt MacGaffey

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