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Resonance from the Past: African Sculpture from the New Orleans Museum of Art

Museum for African Art
36-01 43rd Avenue, 3rd Floor, 718-784-7700
Long Island City
February 3 - May 29, 2005
Web Site


Resonance from the Past consists of more than 90 works of art from the New Orleans Museum of Art, including masks and figures, musical instruments, ceramics, and fabric and beadwork costumes chosen from the extensive collection of the museum by Frank Herreman, formerly Deputy Director for Exhibitions at Museum for African Art.

New Orleans is famous for music, food, jazz funerals, Mardi Gras Indians, voodoo and other cults. It is considered the most African of American cities, for these elements are linked to the African origins of many of its inhabitants. New Orleans is also considered the birthplace of jazz, perhaps the most influential expression of African American culture. When NOMA decided to actively collect works of art from sub-Saharan Africa about forty years ago, it was motivated by the centuries old connection between New Orleans and Africa, and by the feeling that for this reason New Orleans deserved an important collection of African art. A sub-text of this exhibition will be to compare formal elements of jazz and African sculpture in order to illuminate the aesthetic connections between them. In the catalogue, Professor Robert Farris Thompson of Yale, the leading authority on African survivals in African American culture, will discuss the affinities between African art, American heritage and jazz. In addition, several famous jazz musicians will discuss their impressions of African art and its relationship to jazz.

The exhibition will present works from west and central Africa. It includes important groups of sculpture from the Dogon and Bamana peoples of Mali, a selection of figures and masks of the Dan, We and Bete people of Ivory Coast, which run the gamut from idealistic to expressionistic forms, and Akan sculpture from the Baule and Asante people. A highlight of the show will be the outstanding collection of Yoruba art used in ceremonies of the Ogboni, Gelede, Ifa and Epa cults. The collection includes major works by the celebrated sculptors Olowe of Ise and Areogun as well as dazzling examples of beadwork. Other works from Nigeria come from the kingdom of Benin and from the Igbo and Ijo peoples.

From equatorial Africa come a royal mask and figure from the Cameroon Grasslands, three major Fang reliquary figures, and works of the Punu and Lumbo. The exhibition concludes with a series of works from peoples who live in the Congo basin. They include ancestor and power figures, in wood and ivory, from the Bembe, Teke and Yombe. The exhibition concludes with figures from the Chokwe, Luba and Tabwa peoples of Angola.

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