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Africa Month 2015

Reading list 1 - fb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A SELECT READING LIST ON AFRICAN ART – COMPILED BY ANDREW LAMPRECHT

A SELECT READING LIST ON AFRICAN ART – COMPILED BY ANDREW LAMPRECHT

This is a suggested reading list for an undergraduate who is not an art major but wants a good rounded understanding of that complex subject "African Art". I included two specialist works (Gelede and Uzo Egonu) as they show the way that other research can be done but generally all the books (and one journal!) are accessible to the interested layperson. I avoided titles that focus exclusively on SA and on books that include not-African material.

Willett, Frank. 1971. African art: an introduction. London: Thames & Hudson.
One of the first ‘modern’ surveys of African art, attempting to avoid Western biases and be inclusive. Revised edition, 1993.

Gillon, Werner. 1984. A short history of African art. Harmondworth: Viking.
An excellent short survey, still valuable after three decades.

Drewal, Henry John and Margaret Thompson Drewal. Gelede: art and female power among the Yoruba. 1990. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Though very specialized and now somewhat out of date this is a foundational work on the way that African art has been ‘opened up’ to new ways of looking and the defiance of western categories of art making and aesthetics.

Hassan, Salah M., Chika Okeke-Agula and Okwui Enwezor (founding eds). 1994 onwards Nka: journal of contemporary African Art. Duke University Press.
Not a book, but rather a journal of immense value and importance.

Deliss, Clémentine (ed) .1995. Seven stories about modern art in Africa. Paris, Flammarion.
A response to Tom Phillips’ exhibition and book Africa: Art of a Continent.

Oguibe, Olu. 1995. Uzo Egonu: an African modernist in the West. London: Kala Press.
A foundational work in the (re)location of modernist practice to Africa.

Kasfir, Sidney Littlefield. 1999. Contemporary African art. London: Thames & Hudson.

Oguibe, Olu and Okwui Enwezor (eds). 1999. Reading the contemporary: African art from theory to the marketplace. London: inIVA.
One of the best and most influential general ‘readers’ on contemporary African art.

Fall, N’goné and Jean Loup Pivin (eds). 2002. An anthology of African art in the twentieth century. New York: D.A.P.
Despite some inaccuracies still one of the most valuable general surveys of modern and contemporary African art, based on articles in the journal Revue Noire.

Njami, Simon (ed). 2004-2007. Africa remix: contemporary art of a continent. (Various editions of exhibition catalogues).
An important travelling exhibition that has several iterations of the catalogue and a number of excellent essays.

AFRICA MONTH READS – COMPILED BY NOMUSA MAKHUBU

AFRICA MONTH READS – COMPILED BY NOMUSA MAKHUBU

Although this list has a slight bias in favour of Nigeria, it does include literature on Ethiopia and Senegal. In some ways, it responds to the significance of West African (except Ethiopia), curators, writers, artists and filmmakers in contemporary global cultural discourse. It also addresses traditional arts, modern art and contemporary art: all categories that cannot be so easily defined. Ethiopia is also particularly important as the only African nation that was not colonised by European power and had radical artist movements that had political and social relevance.

Valentin-Yves Mudimbe (1988) The Invention of Africa. Oxford: Indiana University Press

Manthia Diawara (1992) African Cinema: Politics & Culture. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press

Babatunde Lawal (1996) The Gelede spectacle : art, gender, and social harmony in an African culture, University of Washington Press, Seattle

N'Goné Fall; Jean Loup Pivin (eds) (2002), An anthology of African art : the twentieth century, D.A.P., New York

Elizabeth Harney; Jeff Donaldson; Achamyeleh Debela; Kinsey Katchka (2003), Ethiopian passages: contemporary art from the diaspora, Philip Wilson, London

Akin Adesokan (2011) Postcolonial artists and global aesthetics, Indiana University Press, Bloomington

Souleymane Bachir Diagne (2011) African art as philosophy: Senghor, Bergson, and the idea of negritude, Seagull Books, London & New York

Moyosore B Okediji (2011) Western frontiers of African art, University of Rochester Press, NY

Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie (2011) Making history: African collectors and the Canon of African art: the Femi Akinsanya African Art Collection, 5 Continents Editions, Milan

Adérónké Adésànyà and Toyin Falola (2014) Art, parody and politics: Dele Jegede's creative activism, Nigeria and the transnational space, Africa World Press, Trenton, New Jersey

'AFRICAN ART' - TEN BOOKS WELL WORTH READING – COMPILED BY MARIO PISSARRA

'AFRICAN ART': TEN BOOKS WELL WORTH READING – COMPILED BY MARIO PISSARRA

Most of these texts are concerned with finding new ways of looking at and thinking about art from Africa. The list is biased towards studies of work produced on the continent, countering the dominant constructions of ‘contemporary African art’ that circulate in the Eurocentric ‘international’ arena.

Gerbrands, Adrian A,, Henry J. Drewal and Rowland Abiodun (c. 1990) African Art Studies: the state of the discipline, National Museum of African Art Washington DC. An excellent overview of trends in scholarship until the late 1980s.

Thompson, Robert Farris (1993) Face of the Gods: Art and Altars of Africa and the African Americas, The Museum for African Art, New York and Prestel, Munich.
All of Thompson’s books are excellent, for theorising African aesthetics as well as for charting the transatlantic transformations of cultural practices.

Ottenberg, Simon (1997) New Traditions from Nigeria: Seven Artists from the Nsukka Group, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC.
Charts the interplay between collective and individual approaches to aesthetics within a ‘movement’ that has dominated the discourse of modern Nigerian art.

Nzegwu, Nkiru (ed) (1999) Contemporary Textures: Multidimensionality in Nigerian Art, Binghamton University, NY. With excellent essays by Nzegwu, Ogbechie and Moyo Okediji, this severely under-rated book presents serious efforts to interpret Nigerian art through the prism of indigenous aesthetics.

Kasfir, Sydney Littlefield (1999) Contemporary African Art, Thames & Hudson, London. Through highlighting critical trans-national themes and considering these against carefully selected national case studies, this is an excellent introduction to its topic.

Enwezor, Okwui & Olu Oguibe (eds) (1999) Reading the Contemporary: African Art from Theory to Marketplace, Iniva, London. The anthology that announced the ‘arrival’ of a new ‘contemporary African arts” discourse.

Harney, Elizabeth (2004) In Senghor’s Shadow: Art, Politics, and the Avant-Garde in Senegal, 1960–1995, Duke University Press, Durham, NC. A rare full-length study of a national (and transnational) African ideology and its impact on the artists of a nation-state.

Ogbechie, Sylvester O. (2008) Ben Enwonwu: The Making of an African Modernist, University of Rochester Press, NY. A timely reminder of how a major international career is no guarantee against falling off the map. Ogbechie’s restoration of Enwonwu as a pioneer of ‘synthesis’ is also noteworthy for exploring the indigenous aesthetics that inform his works.

Pissarra, Mario et al (2011) Visual Century: South African Art in Context, 1907-2007 [4 vols], Wits University Press, Johannesburg. Yes, I’m biased, but show me another national survey that is as original in its blend of chronological and thematic approaches…

Offoedu-Okeke, Onyema (2012) Artists of Nigeria, 5 Continents Editions, Milan. The new postcolonial “Esme Berman” of Nigerian art history, edited by Ogbechie.