Blogging design

So, by now you are seeing that some blogs are easier to follow and comment on. That is because of the widgets included in the page layout. Explore! There are two symbols on the upper left. One is a globe and the other is a W. Check out the pull down menus there. One is “widgets” and will include things you can add to your page like a “blogs I follow” area. Adding this will give you easy access to your classmates sites and others that you find. Also, check out “reader”. You can add a search for articles and posts by subject. For instance you can search “African Art” and it will bring up lots of blog sites by other people, some of whom are experts in African art and some contemporary African American artists’ sites. Check it out.


Welcome to the blogging experience

You may or may not have blogged before. And you have a choice in this class to blog or to journal. The blog may seem unfamiliar or difficult but then again, it may offer you the opportunity to try something new and if that is the case, I say “Go for it!” I never expect my students to be perfect. I don’t expect you to jump right in and conquer it immediately. This blogging experience is to be low key but offer you another way to connect with other people outside of our class who have experience and insights that you might not otherwise encounter. The blogging experience is fun too for those of you who like graphics. You can design your own site and you can easily access articles and photos that bring subjects to life. If you are interested, your first step is to set up an account and then to play with designing your site.

de Young Museum collections

You may have already visited the de Young museum, but if not, it is well worth the trip.  The collection there of Meso-American, African and Oceanic art is phenomenal!  Here is where you can see IN PERSON the art we will be studying all semester.  These galleries are my favorites and I always stop in this section of the museum regardless of other reasons I might be there.  Check it out.  They also have a blogsite which you can use for reflagging posts you might be interested in.

Banksy sale in Central Park

Wow!  Wish I’d have been in New York this past Saturday when original, signed, Banksy works were offered for sale for $60.  Unfortunately, I might have wandered by, just like so many others, admiring and assuming they were knock offs.  The joke was on all of us and Banksy is probably having a great laugh.  He only sold 8 pieces and two of those were at a 50% discount.  The value placed on the works by various art critics is upwards of $200,000.  Banksy only made $460 from his sales.  So, this speaks volumes.  It looks like we’ve come to an age where technology often helps reproduce works as convincing as originals.  So, when we come up against an original we are none the wiser.  But, we still hold an original in high esteem for the artist’s personal touch.  Andy Warhol crossed that bridge long ago with his mass-produced silk-screens.  It all seems like a great avant garde joke, with the artist yet again manipulating his audience.  And considering the recent theft and subsequent auction of Banksy art off the streets, why not practically give it away in Central Park?  Congratulations to the buyers, especially the lady who got the discount!



Reflections on African Studies

We’ve spent three short weeks looking at and discussing historic African art.  Some of the most interesting insights have come through blogging and so, I think this is a worthy use of our time.  We’ve encountered some very thoughtful posts on the complications contemporary African artists face.  We’ve thought about the obligations of museums and collectors in holding or returning cultural treasures to their home countries.  And, we’ve thought about how artists have borrowed and re-interpreted African images.  All of these issues are complex and interesting.  We have to consider that historically, our western perspective makes us think about African art as art for art’s sake.  But, that adds a layer of misunderstanding to the mix.  Until British colonization and the introduction of African arts to western markets, African “arts” were ritual and spiritual objects.  They were not, in African eyes, art as we know it.  So, if contemporary African artists echo historical styles, are they creating art or are they blaspheming deeply spiritual beliefs with their work?  If we consider that perspective, surely we can understand why contemporary African artists would hesitate to follow traditional styles.  In addition, western museums, with the exception of a few, such as the deYoung in San Francisco, have not adequately developed collections that have fully explored or appreciated African art.  Considering that historical traditions are still barely recognized in the west then, we could understand the lack of motivation for contemporary African artists to follow cultural traditions.  But, wow, have western artists learned from African images.  When Pablo Picasso and Erich Heckel borrowed African treatments to express the human figure they expanded the traditional western styles and produced powerful works.  Modern art owes a debt to African art that exists because of British colonial expansion.  When European artists were looking for ways to break free from their own cultural traditions African art provided a conduit for expansion.  The dramatic grotesque style of masks suggested that the human figure could be far more powerful and expressive than western artists had dared to previously explore.  And, although we might have been introduced to African treasures in the early 20th century, our understanding and appreciation of them might have since faded from view were it not for treasures held by museums worldwide.  We do have an obligation to make sure that countries do not see their cultural property looted.  We would fight to save our own.  And yet we can also see that collectors who have paid dearly for works that they now share with the public might have difficulties with the idea of giving up what they have bought.  And we, the appreciative public, might also hate to lose the ability to admire and learn from these same treasures.  We have seen beautiful and dramatic sculpture created for a variety of purposes.  The work of African artists insures domestic and social stability.  Rituals commemorating ancestors and kings, funerary and initiation rites, protection from witches and taboo, coaxing the spirits of nature to bring rain or harvests, all keep the human family focused on living harmoniously.  We’ve learned that African art is far more than art.  It is the physical expression of spiritual beliefs that are core to African life.

Appropriation or Appreciation? by Andaiye Qaasim

This essay discusses how western artists, in this case Leger, used African images in early 20th century modern works. It contains thoughtful ideas about the role of museums in representing African art as opposed to representing western art. It suggests that our western paradigms slowed the acceptance and growth of “African” art in the contemporary world.

Power ,Myth and Technology : African Artist

Power ,Myth and Technology : African Artist.  Here are more insights on how contemporary artists feel in relation to being labeled as African artists and the expectations placed on them because of their heritage.


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