Monday, January 21, 2013

The Beauty of Diversity

This helmet was the first object I saw as I entered the Eiteljorg Suite 
of African and Oceanic Art. In addition to his renowned 
collection of Western and Native American Art, Eiteljorg and his
wife also developed one of the "most celebrated collections of African
art in America." A portion of this wing at the IMA has been devoted
to his collection. 

It had been many years since I saw the collection and I was
 stunned by its variety, beauty, and craftsmanship.
I first became aware of African art when I learned in my art history
classes that Picasso was influenced by tribal masks in
his development of his own artwork. I think it was one of the first
instances that I began to consider how wonderful it is
to have such diversity of expression in the world.
Seeing this collection again reinforced that impression.

I noticed that both the top mask and the one above are topped by birds. 
The information I could find about birds in ceremonial pieces 
stated that they are often used as a transitional beings, one that can travel 
between both the spiritual and earthly worlds.


dive said...

That's a helmet? Wow! You sure know how to make a boy feel inadequate, Speedway.
What a fantastic exhibition! Yet another reason to visit your lovely city. If ever I manage to make it across the pond, the race circuit isn't going to get a look in; I'll be so busy taking in all the culture. I'm still marvelling at your glorious 92 County Walk book.

Speedway said...

Just about all of them are helmets/masks, Dive, worn in ceremonies of various kinds. The Eiteljorgs gave their collections to the IMA, and the Eiteljorg Museum was built especially to hold their collection of Native-American and Western Art. The African and Oceanic collection was put away years ago, until the IMA could create a space for it. They managed that just recently, and the collection is there permanently, perhaps to be rotated, as with all extensive collections.

There is plenty there for you to dust. On the fourth floor, there is a wonderful wall hanging by El Anatsui, that is among my favorite pieces. I visit it a bit each time I go to the IMA

Then there's "Mobius Ship" by Tim Hawkinson, that seems to fascinate everyone who sees it. I think they need one of these at Goodwood:

These pieces are on the 4th floor, where pictures aren't allowed to be taken because the IMA does not own them so has no rights. Consequently, I cannot post about them.

dive said...

Eek! I hate dusting!
I love this exhibition, though. What a wonderful gift to leave the world. Three cheers for the Eiteljorgs.