By J. Vansina
It is a pioneering creation to an issue that remains at an early srage of educational improvement. It goals to supply the reader with a scientific procedure for the historic knowing of African artwork. Professor Vansina considers the medium, strategy, sort and which means of paintings gadgets and examines the inventive approach in which they arrive into being. a variety of pictures and drawings illustrate his arguments, and aid to provide an explanation for the alterations that experience taken position.
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Extra resources for Art History in Africa: An Introduction to Method
Photography, the perfect description, now used by most museums as part of catalogue records, is a practice no older than a generation or two. Formerly either a drawing or a detailed written description gave the best guarantee that one item would not be mistaken for another. But such notices and drawings were rare. The usual mention of objects was found on ledgers, catalogues or * F . G raeb n er, M eihode der Ethnologie, H eidelberg, 1911, p p . 12-54. 21 ART HISTORY IN AFRICA inventories, that is, on lists.
The exceptional nature of such cases does not warrant a convention whereby all art is labelled by ethnic group. Why not label it by institution? An example from Gabon shows how serious distortion can result from such a perspective. A type of reliquary figure, largely two dimensional, made out of wood covered by copper and/or brass strips or wire, was made in eastern Gabon and is known to collectors as mbulu ngulu, not quite an accurate name. 1). A recent study of the different substyles asserts once more that these are Bakota pieces.
CATALOGUES It has been the practice to date pieces by comparison just as they have been assigned places of origin by comparison. In the absence of any other data, this at least is a first step to bringing order into a mass of art objects. To do this well, however, a systematic reference catalogue listing all known objects and all iconographic representations for different periods of time would be necessary. Thus, one could attem pt to reproduce all known objects from sub-Saharan Africa in Europe, acquired before 1700, with details about origin in one or more volumes .
Art History in Africa: An Introduction to Method by J. Vansina
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