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Eternal Ancestors: The Art of the Central African Reliquary
October 2, 2007–March 2, 2008
Special Exhibition Galleries, 1st floor

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This exhibition presents some of the most celebrated creations of African masters in a new light. Many of these works were muses to members of the Western avant-garde, who collected and closely studied them for their inventive aesthetic qualities in their studios during the early 20th century. In light of their role in altering the course of Western art, the works examined are among the most influential masterpieces of the African artistic canon. This exhibition addresses the sensation these now-classic works, appreciated for their beauty alone for over a century, generated among the earliest generation of African art amateurs. But beyond that, it reveals the significance of these works to their cultures of origin by revealing the underlying sources of cultural and spiritual inspiration that led to their creation in equatorial Africa. Drawn from the most important collections of African art in Europe and the United States, the more than 150 works featured are from fourteen distinct cultural traditions in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These sculptural masterpieces, which ultimately transcended their original cultural contexts to enter the mainstream of universal art, were created to portray ancestors as vital intermediaries. Through a range of different visual vocabularies and materials, this is evident in dynamic depictions of the human form conceived to enhance, venerate, and amplify the power of sacred relics. The exhibition provides a foundation for greater appreciation of central Africa’s cultural legacy and the relationship of its art to other major traditions from around the world. Since sacred relics have served as the catalysts for some of the most exalted and revered creations in the history of Western, Eastern, and African civilizations, the exhibition considers reliquaries from other world cultures alongside those produced in Africa, thereby drawing upon related works from other parts of the Metropolitan’s encyclopedic collections.

The exhibition is made possible in part by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.
The catalogue is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Doris Duke Fund for Publications.

Pubblicato il 5/10/2007 alle 9.24 nella rubrica Segnalazioni.

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