instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Report from the Front

Art criticism, sometimes with context, occasional politics. Published in hard copy 2-4 times a year. New shows: "events;" hard copy rates & how to support the online edition: "works."

 

SMALLER BUT MORE PERFECT

Maiden Mask (Agbogho mmuo). Unidentified Igbo artist; Nigeria. Before 1922. Wood, pigment. H. 17 1/2 in. (44.4 cm). The University of Pennsylvania Museum (AF 5371). Courtesy of the Penn Museum, image #150519.
To get to the Matisse show, you will probably pass through the galleries displaying the Met’s handsome permanent collection of sub-Saharan African art. In the middle of it is a small space used for special exhibitions. Here appears a much more modest & less ambitious show than the Matisse, but in some ways, a more perfect one. It is “African Art, New York, and the Avant-Garde,” and was organized by Yaëlle Biro, an assistant curator in the Met’s department of the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas (through April 14). Intended to show how avant-garde American artists, dealers and collectors in the early 20th century valued & responded to what was known in those days as “primitive” art, this show combines 40 masks, statues and other works from West and Central Africa that were being reproduced and/or exhibited in New York at that time with photographs, magazines, European and American paintings & sculpture, plus other documentation of this relationship. The installation, especially of the earlier part of the show, is well-handled, and the quality of the work included is almost uniformly high. To be sure, since Alfred Stieglitz played a leading role in all of this, and the Met is the proud owner of a massive Stieglitz collection, this must have been one of the museum’s less expensive shows to mount, but hey, whoever complains about good value?
Be the first to comment