The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Monday, August 26, 2019

The Neuberger Museum of Art presents exhibition 'Kuba Textiles: Geometry in Form, Space, and Time'
Woman’s overskirt (ncák minen’ishushuna) (cat: details). Kuba peoples, Bushoong group, Nsheng, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Late 19th-early 20th century. Raffia, printed cotton cloth, wool, appliqué, embroidery with cut-pile (borders), 26 x 67 3/8 x 4 in (66 x 171 x 10 cm). Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale, Tervuren, EO.0.0.27401. Gift of Nyim Lukengo’s wife to Marcel van den Abeele, before 1924.

PURCHASE, NY.- The Kuba skirts and overskirts worn by men and women on special occasions such as festivals and funerals are among the most extraordinary of African textiles. Woven by men and embellished by women in the Kuba region in present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo, they are decorated with patterns and motifs that are bold and intricate, irregular and ordered, and may refer to the social status of the wearer. Notable not only for their beauty but also for their scale, “some garments reach nearly thirty feet in length,” notes Marie-Thérèse Brincard, curator of Kuba Textiles: Geometry in Form, Space, and Time, a historic exhibition, organized by the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, SUNY.  Worn wrapped around and around the body several times, the textiles are distinctive and spectacular. The exhibition will be on view from March 1 through June 14, 2015.

Kuba Textiles provides the rare opportunity to see, for the first time, works from two of the earliest collections of textiles from the Kuba region: the Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale, Tervuren, Belgium, and the Sheppard Collection at Hampton University in Virginia. Included in the exhibition are forty-one skirts and overskirts and forty-one objects, many dating from just before and after the turn of the twentieth century. Considered in their historical context and displayed publicly in this exhibition for the very first time, Kuba Textiles provides ambitious new scholarship on one of Africa’s most important artistic forms. 

“For a long time, the study of African art emphasized sculpture, considered by Western collectors to be Africa’s major art form,” writes Ms. Brincard in the fully-illustrated, 140-page catalogue that accompanies the exhibition. “Textiles, pottery, decorative arts, and furniture, which are of equal cultural importance in African societies, were for a long time neglected or ignored.” Kuba Textiles fundamentally changes that approach to the arts of Africa. “[The] cloth [is] made in looms of native construction, soaked and pounded, soft as linen...” – an observation by the African-American Presbyterian missionary, William Henry Sheppard, the first Westerner to be received by the reigning king Kuba king, Kot a Mbweeky II, in 1892.

The creation of these skirts and overskirts is a complex and lengthy process, which includes weaving, dyeing, and embellishing with embroidery, appliqué, patchwork, and additional dye. It can take a month of steady work for one small square of a Kuba textile to be completed. Designs are generated from more than 200 traditional patterns.

“The workmanship and patterning are simply exquisite,” notes Ms. Brincard, who points out that Kuba textiles have influenced twentieth-century Western art, most notably in details of paintings by Gustav Klimt, as well as in stage design, a form highlighted in the exhibition through the inclusion of an imposing costume made from actual Kuba cloth by the great German set designer, Jürgen Rose, for the character of King Marke in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. This remarkable garment, on loan from New York City’s Metropolitan Opera, speaks to the creativity of the Kuba peoples and exemplifies the influence of their design on generations of artists.

Kuba Textiles considers skirt and overskirt embellishment within the context of Kuba style generally, but unlike other exhibitions that view these works alongside a panoply of Kuba arts, this show considers them alongside directly related objects.

The first section of the exhibition features the earliest known wooden sculpture of a seated Kuba king (ndop) from the eighteenth-century, on loan from the Brooklyn Museum. As depicted on the carving, richly embellished accessories will be displayed alongside the carved wooden sculpture. These objects are drawn from the Musée Royal de l Afrique Centrale. The inclusion of a royal sculpture recalls the importance of embroidered textiles among the Kuba peoples since the founder of the kingdom was identified with wearing lavish woven cloth.

The second section—the core of the exhibition—displays selected skirts and overskirts, the surfaces of which are entirely covered with embroidered, appliquéd, or tie-dyed patterns often distributed over the surface in an asymmetrical or irregular way. Amid the textiles there are two small clusters of objects. One of these groupings features postcards and trade cards that illustrate the ways in which images popularized Kuba arts including the splendor of the Kuba king around the globe throughout the twentieth century. The other cluster displays cosmetic boxes that contained tukula, a powder extracted from a hard wood tree used not only as a cosmetic but also to dye textiles, as well as an ensemble of tukula blocs, known as mbwoong itool, which feature motifs similar to those found on many of the skirts. Made only by Kuba women, these small carved blocks, crafted from a camwood paste, were often used as gifts in funerary celebrations.

The exhibition concludes by suggesting the influence of Kuba textile design on twentieth century Western art and stage design, pairing Kuba textiles with both enlarged facsimile details of a well-known painting by the great Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), as well as a garment designed by the great German costume designer, Jürgen Rose (b. 1937). In both instances, the painting and the costume borrow from Kuba patterns, share its affinity for the ubiquity of ornamentation, and demonstrate the continuing influence of Kuba design internationally.

Today's News

February 28, 2015

Largest overview presentation of Louise Bourgeois' Cell series opens at Haus der Kunst

Sotheby's to offer complete set of Nicholas Nixon's Brown Sisters photographs

Leonard Nimoy, Spock on 'Star Trek' and accomplished photographer, dead at 83

Graffiti artist Banksy releases an online video; Leaves his mark in war-ravaged Gaza

Iconic artist Auguste Rodin comes to the James A. Michener Art Museum in Pennsylvania

Atlanta's High Museum of Art explores iconic design of Coca-Cola bottle in exhibition

Career-spanning exhibition of Richard Avedon's work opens at Gagosian Rome

The Bronx Museum of the Arts appoints José A. Ortiz as new Deputy Director

Reflective celebration of Lehmann Maupin's history offered in new exhibition

Catherine Futter named to new leadership position at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

'Art Nouveau, Continental Design & Sculpture' on view at the Fine Art Society in London

Lyman Allyn Art Museum presents exhibition exploring the rich heritage of New England gardens

Exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia presents a selection of works by Bill Viola

NEW/NOW: 'Karl Lund - Angry robots liquefied my brain' opens at the New Britain Museum of American Art

The Neuberger Museum of Art presents exhibition 'Kuba Textiles: Geometry in Form, Space, and Time'

Martha Araújo's first solo exhibition at Galeria Jaqueline Martins on view in Sao Paulo

Woodson Art Museum guitar exhibition strikes a chord

Major solo exhibition by the Czech artist Krištof Kintera opens at Kunsthal Rotterdam

Exhibition of works by Bradley Hart opens at Anna Zorina Gallery

Mat Collishaw announces Tate Sensorium as the winner of IK Prize 2015

Didier Claes to show the collection of African masks of Dr. Alex Rafaeli at TEFAF

Black Mountain College Museum completes first phase of renovation and expansion project

Former Beatle Paul McCartney's childhood home sold

Gross Domestic Product inventor Simon Kuznets' 1971 Nobel Prize sells for $390,848

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Newly restored Titian's Rape of Europa set to be reunited with accompanying works

2.- Krannert Art Museum acquires complete works of conceptual gay photographer Hal Fischer

3.- The Met's Rock & Roll exhibition reaches a milestone 500,000 visitors

4.- A new species of giant penguin has been identified from fossils

5.- Fondation Phi pour l'art contemporain exhibits works by pioneering artist Yoko Ono

6.- Comprehensive exhibition of Elfie Semotan's work on view at C/O Berlin

7.- 'Easy Rider' star Peter Fonda dead at 79

8.- Major exhibition explores the romantic fascination with the Scottish Highlands

9.- Meet the Ercolines, the Woodstock lovebirds whose hug made history

10.- Dallas Museum of Art re-opens European Galleries after total reinstallation

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful