Categories
Discoveries

Jacques Kerchache presents his new book “L’Art africain” (Mazenod) on French television in 1988

Unfortunately only in French, but how wonderful to see Jacques Kerchache (1942-2001) presenting his new book “L’Art africain” on French television in 1988 – see below, or click this link (the interview starts at 08:44). This publication would become a reference book on the subject, and is still consulted by all professionals in our field – so it’s very charming to see Kerchache, who was responsible for the selection, present it.

After the book presentation, three objects are highlighted in detail in the television studio: an incredible Mumuye statue, a janus Fon figure from the Republic of Benin, and an ivory Woyo staff finial from D.R. Congo. As Kerchache played a big role in the discovery and promotion of the art of the Mumuye, it is special to look at this statue together with him.

Kerchache jokes “Watch out ! It’s dangerous” when the host touches this Fon statue ūüôā

At the end of the interview Kerchache informs about his plans to bring African and Oceanic Art into the Louvre – a mission he would later accomplish successfully!

Categories
Research

Star Wars and African Art

Image courtesy of the Beyeler Foundation.
Image courtesy of the Beyeler Foundation.

This famous Mumuye figure, in the collection of the Fondation Beyeler, was exhibited to high acclaim in New York more than a quarter century ago during the exhibition Primitivism in Twentieth-Century Art (1984). It was then likened by the New York Times reviewer of the show to Darth Vader from Star Wars Рa comparison that succeeded in living through all these years.

Darth Vader Mumuye head

As revealed in a footnote in¬†Central Nigeria Unmasked¬†(pp. 573-574, footnote 17), the Fowler Museum¬†in 2011 contacted George Lucas to inquire if he was indeed influenced by African art while coming up with the design of Darth Vader’s helmet. Lucas responded, negatively, and stated that especially samurai armor had been a significant influence on his conception of Darth Vader – the helm itself being both inspired by Japanese kabuto helmets, as well as early 20th century German war helmets.

ps earlier this year Stuttgart’s¬†Linden Museum shared the great installation shot below on Twitter (here), stating that George Lucas did study anthropology and got inspired by African masks. These fully costumed Ibibio masks indeed do look from outer space, but, as we know now, not from Star Wars’ galaxy.

Image courtesy of the Linden Museum.
Image courtesy of the Linden Museum.
Categories
Collectors Museums

African art from the Beyeler Foundation

Mumuye figure. Height: 99 cm (including base). Image courtesy of the Fondation Beyeler.
Mumuye figure. Height: 99 cm (including base). Image courtesy of the Fondation Beyeler.

The above Mumuye figure is one of the major objects¬†in the small, but exquisite African art collection of the Fondation Beyeler in Switzerland.¬†You can browse the other objects in their possession here – there’s a small selection of Oceanic art as well. Their Mbembe figure will be shown during Warriors and Mothers: Epic Mbembe Art opening next month at the Metropolitan (info), while the big Kongo nkisi nkondi will be reunited with the other works of this artist during Kongo: Power and Majesty, also at the MET, end 2015 (info).