St. Augustine, near Bonn has just become a haven for ethnologists, The small West German?
St. Augustine, near Bonn has just become a haven for ethnologists, The small West German town is currently hosting an exhibition of Christian art from black Africa, and Europe's ethnolists are finding they are having to revise their opinions on the subject.
SYNOPSIS: Until the exhibition opened in the People's and Cultures Museum in St. Augustine, the general view was that African portrayals of Christian motifs were without artistic quality, and that African artists used only European prototypes without allowing their own traditions to influence their work. These gold statuettes form one exhibit which proves the contention is wrong.
These exhibits are in wood, and they show the great influence the Christian missionaries had in Africa.
Another wood carving...the child Christ surrounded by natives from the Maconde tribe, in southern Tanzania.
The faces of the tribesmen reflect the pure African influence coming through a subject where origins are in Europe.
indigenous touch is also strong in this wooden statue with its necklace of what look like gourds...and could the stomach-piece be an warrior's shield?"
European and American experts have been surprised at the insertion of tribal motifs into Christina art subjects. In this manger scene, from the Nigerian Yoruba tribe, the tribesmen's traditional royal-blue paint is given free treatment. And laymen among the visiting public have found them equally charming.
A completely atypical portrayal of the Virgin Mary, for Africa, this "kangaroo Madonna" is similar in style to the modern Italian painter, Modigliani. And here, more typically, the African "mother earth" figure, the pregnant woman, portrays the Virgin.
European-style elements are unmistakable in this Christ figure by Tanzanian sculptor Alimosi.
Christ on the cross, and Christ carrying the cross, figure largely among the exhibits. They are made from metal or wood, as lifelike representations or caricatures. They typify more even than the other exhibits, the way African tribal art can transcend both a European-introduced religion and twentieth-century sculptural styles.
All in all, it is an enlightening experience, for experts and those who merely know what they like.