|African Art Class @BrooklynMuseum: L-R: Kristen Windmuller-Luna (Teaching Assistant); Cameron Bell, Mimi Pichette, Gabriella Ravida, Margot Yale, Kosaluchi Nwokeneche-Mmegwa,Dina Murokh, Moi, Natthamon Wutilertcharoenwong|
|Ndop (royal portrait figure, from the Kingdom of Kuba) in Brooklyn Museum. Photo by Kristen Windmuller-Luna|
|Owusu Ankomah's Movement #36, 2002, Newark Museum. Photo by Kristen Windmuller-Luna|
Then today, with my African Art class, I was back to New York, this time to the Brooklyn Museum's African gallery, and of course, to see Wangechi's show (again, for me!). Brooklyn's gallery of African art, which begins with sculptures and pottery from the upper Nile (Napata, Meroe), and Nok, but also Ife, Benin, Sapi-Portuguese and Tellem/Dogon, is always useful in speaking about the deep history of artistic traditions in Africa. Very few collections give that opportunity. From Brooklyn we of course went Newark to view their African gallery proper. There, the gallery is still--as with old or unfortunately standard permanent installations of African art--organized into thematic rubrics, with no sense of time, no gesture at African art's historicity. OK, yes, the Brooklyn returns to themes for everything in between that first section and the last where you find work by contemporary African artists (Shonibare, Odundo, Tshibumba, etc), but at least they tried to place datable objects within some kind of soft chronological order. Whatever, Newark still has some great stuff, like that Yoruba Man with Bicycle (which Kwame Anthony Appiah famously wrote about in his book In My Father's House) at the gallery entrance, and Sokari Douglas Camp's monumental Naked Gelede (1995).
At the end of the two days, I started seeing Art by African artists in my peripheral vision. How long will this last, doctor?