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History & Civilizations

Ex-Africa. African Presences in Art Today

90 min visit

Quai Branly Museum
19 May → 11 Jul 2021
From Tue to Sun, from 10:30am to 7pm. Nocturnal Thu > 10pm. Closed Mon

« A melting pot exhibition with over 150 works by artists of all generations! A good dose of contemporary art that feels good after this long break... »

Since the end of the 20th century, many artists have turned to ancient African art. Among the best known are Matisse, Picasso, Giacometti and Nolde. Philippe Dagen wanted to shed light on this link through an original visual dialogue! The critic and art historian is undoubtedly the best person to deal with this relationship between non-Western art and the Western artistic avant-garde. Since his early research, he has addressed and critiqued the notion of primitivism in his work, which is closely linked to Western colonialism on African, Oceanian and American countries. The exhibition begins with this reminder. The first time this relationship was presented to the general public was in 1984 with the exhibition Primitivism at MoMa. 200 pieces from Africa, Oceania and Latin America were exhibited alongside productions by contemporary artists, thus placing them on the level of artworks. But is this really the purpose of these so-called "primitive" objects? Without really looking at their original meaning, Westerners have used them to justify the avant-garde status of these artists. Other more contemporary artists are presented in the second part of the exhibition, showing their perception of ancient African art. ORLAN, Chéri Samba, Annette Messager, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kader Attia... Artists who have questioned the way we have looked at art objects: what has become of them in our society today, in what form do they appear and how do we talk about them today? The exhibition features 38 carefully selected contemporary artists who all deal in one way or another with non-Western art. While some of them make a simple reference to it, others use it as the main subject of their creation.


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