Tag: sculpture

‘African Art, New York, and the Avant-Garde’ at the Met

Masks in Malvin Gray Johnson’s painting “Negro Masks” (1932). (Librado Romero/The New York Times)

It’s easy to take for granted just how quickly art travels today, whether by JPEG or shipping crate. For a sense of how slow things were just a century ago, and how much could get lost en route from one continent to another, visit “African Art, New York, and the Avant-Garde,” a small but highly compelling show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s one of several exhibitions timed to the centennial of the Armory Show of 1913, where many New Yorkers caught their first glimpse of Modern art from Europe (much of it influenced by African sculpture).

Meticulously researched and thoughtfully presented by Yaëlle Biro, the Met’s assistant curator in the department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, it tells the story of African art’s early reception in the United States with exceptional candor. And it makes clear that Americans received Modern art and African art as a single import, derived from French and Belgian colonies, distilled in Paris and presented on these shores by a few tastemaking dealers and collectors.

Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum Opens “African Presence In Renaissance Europe” Exhibit

Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid “The Three Mulattoes of Esmereldas” (1599) is one of the works in “Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe,” at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

BALTIMORE — In a fall art season distinguished, so far, largely by a bland, no-brainer diet served up by Manhattan’s major museums, you have to hit the road for grittier fare. And the Walters Art Museum here is not too far to go to find it in a high-fiber, convention-rattling show with the unglamorous title of “Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe.” 

Visually the exhibition is a gift, with marvelous things by artists familiar and revered — Dürer, Rubens, Veronese — along with images most of us never knew existed. Together they map a history of art, politics and race that scholars have begun to pay attention to — notably through “The Image of the Black in Western Art,” a multi-volume book project edited by David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates Jr. — but that few museums have addressed in full-dress style.

Nigerian Sculptor Nnenna Okore Impresses at Contemporary African Art Gallery

Raised in Nigeria, now living in the United States, the young sculptor Nnenna Okore makes a strong impression in this solo show of new work in New York’s Contemorary African Art Gallery. Her primary materials are organic recyclables — burlap, jute rope, paper — along with small, cylindrical, fingerlike ceramic forms. In several cases she attaches the ceramic pieces to sheets of burlap that have been stiffened with resin and molded into undulating curves. The effect is decorative, the basic format a reminder that she spent an apprentice year working in El Anatsui’s studio in Nigeria around the time he was developing his pieced-together and draped metal “fabrics.”

More interesting, because more her own, are wall sculptures that take her closer to abstract natural forms. Some are open, seemingly fragile networks made from dye-soaked jute threads that twist and intertwine, like tendrils or root systems.

Other pieces, shaped from handmade paper, have the furrowed texture of tree bark or leathery skin. One extraordinary paper piece, dyed pink and brown, seems to burst from the gallery wall like a giant dried and withered rose. Like all of Ms. Okore’s best work, this is a tough, unlovely image, about when recycling passes into disintegration.

article by Holland Cotter via nytimes.com

Detroit Museum Holds Exhibition of Forty-Four Busts of President Obama

Artist - Ted Ellis 02

Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is holding an exhibition called “Visions of Our 44th President“.  It features 44 contemporary African-American artists using different styles and mediums of choice, all adding to a blank bust of President Barack Obama.

Continue reading “Detroit Museum Holds Exhibition of Forty-Four Busts of President Obama”

Ida B. Wells To Be Honored With Sculpture In Chicago



CHICAGO (AP) — For six decades, civil rights pioneer Ida B. Wells was woven into the fabric of Chicago’s South Side as the namesake of a public housing project.

A Rosa Parks-like figure during her era, the journalist and suffragist was so revered that 1930s leaders put her name on a project that promised good, affordable housing for working class families. Within a few decades, however, the homes deteriorated, growing more violent and becoming riddled with gangs and drugs — not as notorious as the city’s Cabrini-Green public housing high rises or Robert Taylor Homes, but certainly not a monument to Wells’ legacy.

Then, nearly a decade ago, the city tore the Wells housing project down, leaving the activist’s great-granddaughter Michelle Duster and her family worried Wells wouldn’t be remembered at all.

Now, to mark the 150th anniversary of Wells’ birth in 2012, an effort is under way to build a sculpture to honor her legacy at the site of the housing development and renew her relevance for future generations.

“When the housing project was coming down we were like ‘Her name is going to be gone,’” Duster said, sitting in her South Side home, a portrait of her great-grandmother hanging on the wall. “Her name and what she did can’t be lost with the housing project.”

The Ida B. Wells Commemorative Art Committee is seeking $300,000 in donations after commissioning noted Chicago artist Richard Hunt to create the sculpture, which is expected to combine images of Wells with inscriptions of her writings.

While Wells’ name endures on a grade school and a professorship in the city, the monument will aim to reflect the full legacy of a woman who was born into slavery in Mississippi and went on to become a well-respected crusader against injustice and outspoken anti-lynching activist.

Orphaned at age 16, Wells was left to support her five siblings. She became a teacher and moved to Memphis, where she sued a railroad because she wasn’t allowed to sit in the ladies coach. When she later became a journalist, Wells wrote about that incident and the lynchings of three of her male friends.

Her writings enraged others and led to Wells being forced to leave the South. She kept writing and speaking about lynching across the U.S. and England. She died in 1931 and is buried in Chicago.

Planning for the Ida B. Wells Homes started three years after her death, as a project of the Public Works Administration. The homes opened in 1941 and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited the complex, with its 1,662 units — more than 860 apartments and nearly 800 row houses and garden apartments.

By the 1990s, the housing complex had fallen to drugs and violence. In an infamous 1994 case, two boys, ages 10 and 11, dropped a 5-year-old boy to his death from a vacant 14-floor apartment. The boys were convicted on juvenile murder charges. The same year two neighborhood teenagers produced an award-winning radio documentary “Ghetto Life 101,” which aired on National Public Radio.

A year later, prosecutors charged seven people with running a cocaine ring out of the Ida B. Wells Homes that authorities say did such booming business drug buyers lined up 50 at a time.

By 2002, the last buildings were torn down in a nationally watched urban renewal plan initiated by then-Mayor Richard Daley that also targeted other housing projects — including Cabrini-Green, which saw the last of its high-rises crumble under wrecking balls earlier this year.

As Wells Homes residents focused on finding new places to live, some also requested something be done in tribute to the activist.

“I want people to remember Ida B. Wells the woman, not Ida B. Wells the housing community,” her great-granddaughter, Duster, said. “Something should be done to remember who she was. I think who she was as a woman got lost when it was attached to the housing projects.”

When the money is raised, that something will be a sculpture in the middle of a large grassy median on 37th Street and Langley Avenue in the historically African-American neighborhood of Bronzeville on the city’s South Side.

The site, across the street from a large park, isn’t far from the 19th-century stone house where Wells lived from 1919 to 1929. The Ida B. Wells-Barnett House is now a National Historic Landmark.

Hunt envisions a sculpture in his metallic, free-form style that will incorporate images and writings of Wells. He said he hopes to convey “what a courageous and intelligent and committed person that she was.”

Carol Adams, president of Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African-American History, said the sculpture will be a lasting monument to Wells and a place where people can learn about her influence. The neighborhood is already home to the Ida B. Wells Preparatory Elementary Academy, and Chicago’s DePaul University has a professorship named for Wells.

“Her name itself just reverberates through the community,” said Adams, who once worked in the Ida B. Wells Homes. “It was her voice, her stance that she took regarding lynching and how she used the media to wage that fight, what that fight meant to us. This was very significant for black people all over the country.”

Duster said the sculpture will “have a lot of meaning” for those who lived in the homes named after her.

“I think they will have a huge sense of pride,” she said. “Those who lived in Bronzeville when the homes were there, it’s a source of pride for our neighborhood. For others it’s a sense of pride in the city of Chicago.”

Mostly though, she said, remembering her great-grandmother will teach a new generation that one person can make a difference and defy the boundaries of society’s expectations based on race, class and gender.

“It’s important to speak up when you feel you’ve experienced something not fair,” Duster said. “Don’t wait for somebody else to say something. That’s one thing Ida did that I think is a legacy. She used her voice and talents to raise consciousness.”

via thegrio.com