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Exhibition of The European in African Art Anounced at Detroit Institute of Arts
Unknown artist, Fon culture, Republic of Benin, Chair with Four Felines (Chief’s Throne), before 1950, Wood. Photo courtesy of the Menil Collection, by Hickey-Robertson, Houston (special permission needed for posters, slides, cards).
DETROIT, MI.- "Through African Eyes: The European in African Art", 1500 to Present is the first traveling art exhibition to examine 500 years of cultural and political interactions between the peoples of African and European outsiders. It is also the first to do so from African points-of-view. "Through African Eyes" will be on view at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) April 18–August 8, 2010.

"Through African Eyes" provides riveting visual commentaries on five centuries of interactions between Africans and Europeans and Westerners—from early commercial relations to founding of European permanent settlements to European colonial rule to recent post-independence interactions with the West. On the one hand, the objects reflect subtle and not-so-subtle views of African artists about Europeans; on the other, they also document shifts in African cultural attitudes toward Europeans over the period. By casting the European as the cultural “other,” the exhibition reverses longstanding Eurocentric perspectives that have dominated African art studies. African voices, heard through recorded oral histories and personal experiences of African elders and artists, provide their own perspectives on the meanings of the objects and motivations behind their creation.

The exhibition features about 100 figurative sculptures and utilitarian objects created in wood, ivory, metals and textiles from the holdings of the DIA and other leading American and international museums and private collections. The artworks will expand the public’s understanding of Africa as a multiplicity of cultures, each with a different history of relations with Europeans. Among the countries represented are Ghana , Mali , Ivory Coast , Nigeria , Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone , Cameroon , Tanzania , Zimbabwe and South Africa .

“We are eagerly anticipating this groundbreaking exhibition,” said Graham W. J. Beal, DIA director. “Nii Quarcoopome, our curator of African art, has been conducting research and gathering objects for the exhibition for a number of years, and the new scholarship resulting from Nii’s hard work will contribute greatly to the field of African art studies.”

Detroit Institute of Arts | Through African Eyes | Graham W. J. Beal | Nii Quarcoopome |

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