Style Court

Eight Years of Textiles, History, Art, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes
Showing posts with label African-made. Show all posts
Showing posts with label African-made. Show all posts


African Style in the States

[Design by Nathan Turner. Photo by Victoria Pearson published in Nathan Turner's American Style, Abrams, 2012.]

Another book I'll be covering in the next few days is designer and shop owner Nathan Turner's debut release. Whether he's pulling together a room or a cozy dinner party, Nathan has a distinct talent for channeling certain vibes -- could be Bloomsbury or California Ranch -- without getting too theme-y. Shown above is an African design appreciation moment. Here he mixed a 19th-century patterned African basket and vintage African textiles (not really visible in this picture) with Amber Arbucci's elephant photograph and a Ralph Lauren zebra fabric.

[Interior of Arensberg apartment, 33 West Sixty-Seventh Street, New York photographed by Charles Sheeler, 1919. Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950.]

Nathan's vignette prompted me to post a quick reminder of The Met's recently opened show, African Art, New York, and the Avant-Garde, on view through April 14, 2013. We already know how strongly the pioneering artists of the early-20th century -- Picasso, Matisse -- were influenced by African sculpture and textiles but this exhibition looks at American collectors' responses in the 1910s and 1920s. In the States -- well, specifically in New York -- African art and artifacts could be appreciated anew, as abstract works of art rather than colonial trophies. The Met's show encompasses forty wood sculptures from West and Central Africa juxtaposed with photographs, sculptures, and paintings by Brancusi, Rivera, Picasso, Stieglitz, Sheeler, and Picabia. The Harlem Renaissance and its connection to African art is touched on in the exhibition, too.


V&A Africa

[South African coiled brass and steel wire bracelet, ca. 1870-1880 (made). 
Given to the V & A by A. L. Byrne.]

This fall the V & A will revisit its African collection, inviting the public to see some textiles, jewelery, and sculpture never before displayed in the galleries. The exhibition, V&A Africa: Exploring Hidden Histories, opens November 15. (Over the past 150 or so years, the Museum's perceptions of African design have evolved, so the show will look at shifts in attitude as well as the objects themselves) Combing through the online collections, I spied quite a few 19th-century African pieces that today would fit right in at Calypso.

[South African glass beaded necklace, ca. 1850-1900 (made). Given to the Museum by A.L Byrne.]

[North African silver hinged bangles in the form of broad, flat ribbons with applied decoration, 19th century. Bequeathed to the V & A by Edmond Dresden.]

[South African Ostrich egg-shell beads, ca. 1870-1880 (made).
 Given to the Museum by Hugh Exton.]


Connecting Lines

Just glimpsing a thumbnail image of Proud Mary's mud cloth Grillage pillow, I was drawn to the hand-dyed pattern's overlapping lines. When a larger picture revealed soft shades of grey, green, and rose, I liked it even more.

[Mondrian's Composition 8, 1914. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York,
Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection 49.1227. © 2007 Mondrian/Holtzman Trust.]

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice 76.2553.39. 
© 2007 Mondrian/Holtzman Trust.]  

Piet Mondrian's work influenced the design, according to Proud Mary, and since the pillow was hand-made in Mali, West Africa, I'm thinking it's a nice example of art and design coming full circle. 20th-century Modernists, most notably Picasso and Matisse, took inspiration from the abstracted forms seen in old Central African textiles and sculpture. And exposure to Picasso's Cubism led Mondian to Paris, where he did his own experimentation with geometry and abstraction. So the artisans in Mali are continuing one very long thread. See traditional African wovens here.

  [Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), Kuba Culture, Shoowa people, Ceremonial Textile Panel,
 late 19th to early 20th century, permanent collection LACMA.]