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ARTH304: African Art

Unit 8: Contemporary African Artists   In this unit, we will learn about the spread of African art forms and contemporary African artists. These are starting points for further investigation. In discussing and analyzing contemporary African art, critics have focused on the extent to which expressions of ethnic and cultural heritage may be intended by particular artists. Pay attention to how the modern works discussed are described and contextualized through references to past art as well as to modern art of the West. Also note how the artists themselves (when applicable) and commentators describe the meanings and inspirations in these works.

Unit 8 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately you 15 hours to complete.

☐   Subunit 8.1: 5 hours

☐   Subunit 8.2: 10 hours

Unit8 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to: - discuss and analyze how many modern art forms of the West were influenced by close viewings of traditional African art; - discuss aspects of African culture that can be seen in various Caribbean works of art and art forms; - explain the basics of Haitian voodoo spirituality; - explain how many modern African artists have integrated past traditions with forms of Western art; and - discuss unfamiliar art in terms of form and potential symbolism from observation.

8.1 Modern Art Forms and the Diaspora   - Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Denise Murrell’s “African Influences in Modern Art” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Denise Murrell’s “African Influences in Modern Art” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this essay and explore the accompanying
images.  

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displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: St. John Historical Society: Dr. Robert W. Nicholls’ “Masquerade – Costumes of the Atlantic Rim” Link: St. John Historical Society: Dr. Robert W. Nicholls’ “Masquerade –  Costumes of the Atlantic Rim” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this article for an overview of how African culture has been preserved in many Caribbean cultural traditions.

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  • Reading: American Museum of Natural History: “Sacred Arts of Haitian Voodoo” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

    Submit Materials

  • Reading: Diaspora Art & Other Matters: Olu Oguibe’s “Conversation with Marta Massaioli” Link: Diaspora Art & Other Matters: Olu Oguibe’s “Conversation with Marta Massaioli” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this interview and note how this particular artist defines the Diaspora and also what issues African, as well as Diaspora, artists face as a result of the colonization of Africa.

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8.2 Contemporary African Art   - Reading: Jean Pigozzi’s “Contemporary African Art Collection” Link: Jean Pigozzi’s “Contemporary African Art Collection” (HTML)

 Instructions: This website has an extensive image base of art by
African artists since approximately 1980, including some of the most
high-profile artists on the international scene at the turn of the
new millennium. Please browse the site and consider in what ways our
historical study of African art has influenced the way you may
consider some of this work, both in general and in particular
cases.  

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  • Reading: The Studio Museum in Harlem: Naomi Beckwith’s “Zwelethu Mthethwa: Inner Views” Link: The Studio Museum in Harlem: Naomi Beckwith’s “Zwelethu Mthethwa: Inner Views” (HTML, Flash)

    Instructions: Listen to Naomi Beckwith’s introduction to Zwelethu Mthethwa’s photography.

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  • Reading: Hood Museum of Art: “Resonance and Inspiration: New Works by Magdalene Odundo” Link: Hood Museum of Art: “Resonance and Inspiration: New Works by Magdalene Odundo” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this introduction and explore the accompanying images by acclaimed artist Magdalene Odundo, a Kenyan native whose ceramic forms are related to the tradition of East African burnished pottery that you studied in the previous unit. At the bottom of the page, you can find a link to an extensive talk by the artist; you might consider listening while searching for other images of her works.

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  • Reading: ArtKrush: “Okwui Enwezor on Snap Judgements” Link: ArtKrush: “Okwui Enwezor on Snap Judgements” (HTML)

    Instructions: In this interview, influential critic, scholar, and curator Okwui Enwezor discusses issues in cross-cultural translations of visual culture in the context of a major exhibition of contemporary African photography exhibition that he organized.

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  • Reading: National Museum of African Art: “Contemporary/Gallery One” Link: National Museum of African Art: “Contemporary/Gallery One” (HTML)

    Instructions: Explore these presentations. Note that the National Museum of African Art has excellent presentations on contemporary African artists based both in Africa and abroad, found in these presentations.

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  • Reading: PBS: Art 21: “Yinka Shonibare, MBE” Link: PBS: Art 21“Yinka Shonibare, MBE” (Flash)

    Instructions: Read this brief biography of Shonibare, then watch the interview where Shonibare discusses the manner in which his art work represents Colonial occupation of Africa.

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  • Reading: National Museum of African Art: “Contemporary/Gallery Two” Link: National Museum of African Art: “Contemporary/Gallery Two” (HTML)

    Instructions: Explore these presentations. As noted earlier, the National Museum of African Art has excellent presentations on contemporary African artists based both in Africa and abroad.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Art Creations Africa: “Nicholas Mukomberanwa” Link: Art Creations Africa: “Nicholas Mukomberanwa” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this brief biography on Mukomberanwa, then click on the link to view the accompanying examples of his work.

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  • Web Media: YouTube: Francisco Pocas’ “Weapons to Art - CNN - Mozambique” Link: YouTube: Francisco Pocas’ “Weapons to Art - CNN - Mozambique” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Watch this video, where Mabunda discusses his concept of “Weapons to Art.”
     
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  • Reading: Seema Bawa’s “Creating for Change: Creative Transformations in Willie Bester’s Art” Link: Seema Bawa’s “Creating for Change: Creative Transformations in Willie Bester’s Art” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this biography on Bester’s life and the brief interview where he answers questions regarding the subject matter and significance of his work.

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  • Web Media: YouTube: James Fischetti’s “Watts Ouattara” Link: YouTube: James Fischetti’s “Watts Ouattara” (YouTube)

    Instructions: Watch this video, which follows Ouattara through New York while viewing several of his paintings. Note the graffiti-like style of his work.

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  • Reading: Uneven Development: Sarah Dear’s “Suzanne Ouedraogo – An artist speaks out against FGM” Link: Uneven Development: Sarah Dear’s “Suzanne Ouedraogo – An artist speaks out against FGM” (HTML)

    Instructions: In this article, Ouedraogo discusses her views on female circumcision and how the process affected her life and art. Read through the article and then view the works of art produced by Ouedraogo where she communicates her message.

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  • Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “Comparison of Contemporary African Artists” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Comparison of Contemporary African Artists” (PDF)

    Instructions: Please complete the linked activity above.
     
    This activity should take you approximately one hour to complete.