Abstract Impulse in African Art
Kevin Tervala, associate curator of African Art and department head, Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands, Baltimore Museum of Art
Africa has long been associated with abstract artistic expression. Indeed, the story of African art's entrance into the art historical canon is so well known that it scarcely needs to be repeated. Yet, in spite of the voluminous scholarship on European interest in African abstraction, there is much we do not know about the history of abstract form on the continent itself. Most basically: What does abstraction mean in Africa? Why did it develop in some places and not others? Where did it emerge, and what prompted its genesis? In what ways did abstract form play a role in the use and efficacy of an object? This lecture seeks to answer these questions in order to better understand the origin, meaning, and function of abstraction on the African continent. During this investigation, we will look at case studies from Kenya, Mali, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo while highlighting objects in the collection of regional museums.
$15 door fee for guests and subscribers