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Video: Exhibition shows African art in US

11-27-2012 19:41 BJT

How African artifacts were first recognized as art in the United States is the subject of a new exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition highlights more than 60 pieces, mostly sculptures, that were collected by the New York avant-garde during the early 20th century.

The start of the U.S. recognition of African art begins with the 1913 Armory Show. The Armory Show was the historic art show that first introduced New Yorkers to modern art.

Yaelle Biro, assistant curator of Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, said, "This exhibition was thought about as an extension to the celebrations of the centennial anniversary of the Armory show. Really the Armory show was this groundbreaking moment for modern art in America and the idea was to put into focus African art, which also started to be known in the U.S. during the years that followed the Armory and it’s really one part of the history that is left aside and that is not being brought to the forefront very often. The exhibition looks at African art in New York during the 1910s and 20s and that was the specific moment when African objects started to be seen as works of art in America."

In 1914, two New York galleries were the first in the United States to introduce African sculpture as art. No longer was African art reduced to colonial trophies.

From 1915 to 1919, New York became the city where art dealers and collectors gathered to trade African art.

Works by artists influenced by African art such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Constantin Brancusi are also featured in the exhibition, but these artists are not the stars of the show.

Biro said, "There have been already a number of shows that were looking at how artists have been influenced by African art. I wanted to do something a little bit different. I wanted to take the African objects away from this status of props and of just purely source of inspiration and putting the African works more back into the main focus of the exhibition. The show is really about the African objects. It’s not so much about the modern artists that they influenced."

Most of the African art comes from West and Central Africa. The artists are unknown.

"African Art, New York and the Avant-Garde" will be on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from November 27, 2012 until April 14, 2013.

Editor:James |Source: CCTV.com

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