Exhibit Information

Metropolitan Museum of Art

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RECONFIGURING AN AFRICAN-ICON

Opening: 8 MARCH 2011 - Closing: 21 AUGUST 2011

RECONFIGURING AN AFRICAN-ICON:

Odes to the Mask by Modern & Contemporary Artists from Three Continents

 

 

The Thematic-Peg on which this amusing show is hung is that Iconic-Photograph by Man Ray, Noire et Blanche. A lovely white woman’s face is juxtaposed to a sleek black African-Mask.

 

This recalls a time when modern artists like Pablo Picasso were inspired by the powerful Primitivism of authentic African-Masks & other African-Artworks.

 

In this new Met exhibition, it’s clear that you do not have to be African to imitate or parody African-Masks, even Iconic ones…

 

You do not even have to possess Authentic-African-Materials to manufacture an African-Inspired Mask!

 

Old plastic bottles with handles—good for Noses, those handles!—can be joined with old scrub-brushes or broom-straws to construct what may be imagined as a Mask!

 

This show features 20 works of art—19 sculptures & one photograph, the one by Man Ray—that are presumed to reflect on the Enduring-Relevance of African-Masks as a source of inspiration for artists across Cultures into the present.

 

Among the highlights of the installation are whimsical-sculptures—created from Discarded-Consumer- Goods—by contemporary artists Romuald Hazoumé [b. 1962] & Calixte Dakpogan [b. 1958], both from the Republic of Benin.

 

Works by Hazoumé & Dakpogan featured in the installation are self-consciously Ironical-References to the fact that the Mask is the African Form-of-Expression best known in the West.

 

Hazoumé’s Signature-Works on-view include Ear-Splitting & other faces created from Plastic-Gasoline-Jerricans, to which features made from a variety of Scrap-Matter are added.

 

The artist conceives of his Jerrican-Masks as an homage to West-Africa’s Masquerade-Traditions. They also function as Portraits of Contemporary-Beninese-Society—with a humorous twist—as well as layered & Multifaceted-Reflections on the relationship between Africa & the West.

 

Dakpogan—who is represented in the installation by Heviossodraws upon such Disparate-Media as Metal from Abandoned-Cars, CDs, Combs, & Soda-Cans.

 

The Descendent of the Royal-Blacksmiths of Porto-Novo in the Republic of Benin, Dakpogan creates ingenious Sculptural-Compositions that reflect upon Coastal-Benin’s long history of Exchanges, which have defined its Religious & Political-History.

 

Also included are explorations by Modern & Contemporary American-Artists—in a variety of Media—to demonstrate further the Open-Ended-Potential of the Seminal-Mask for Dynamic-Reinvention.

 

This show also celebrates Recycling as an Art-Form!

 

Works on-view include recent works by Lynda Benglis [b. 1941] & Composite-Creations by Willie Cole [b. 1955].

 

Benglis’s longstanding-interest in African-Sculpture is the inspiration for a series of Masks-in-Glass—shown here for the first time. Oddly enough, they look somewhat like Elongated-Vases

 

Willie Cole—who recently had a one-man-show at the CUNY Grad-Center gallery—"pays tribute to Classical-Genres of African-Masks, through Assemblages of Humble-Material, drawn from his Own-Environment, that allow him to reflect on his Spiritual-Attachment to Africa’s Material-Culture.”

 

At the Grad-Center show, Electric-Steam-Irons & Scorched-Ironing-Boards were a Big-Feature!

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