Discovering Africa in Art Deco Design and Beyond

Discovering Africa in Art Deco Design and Beyond


(crowd clapping) – My name is Jon Mogul,
I’m associate director for curatorial and educational affairs here at the Wolfsonian. And I’m very pleased that once again, as we have for many
years, we’re collaborating with Miami Design Preservation League on the Art Deco Weekend lecture series. This year we’re especially excited to be hosting these lectures
because we are representing for the first time, an exhibition from our own collection about Art Deco and it’s called Deco
Luxury to Mass Market. It’s on view on our seventh floor. And if you haven’t had a chance to get up to see it, I think
you’ll enjoy it very much. It’s really a wonderful exhibition. We are offering complementary admission to the museum galleries
to anyone attending the Art Deco talks here. So, if you like to,
you will need a sticker to go upstairs, or else our security staff will send you back down. If you don’t already have a sticker, look for me after the talk I’ll be here in the auditorium and I can offer you one of these stickers. So, let me introduce
briefly this morning’s or this afternoon’s speaker. She is Margaret Vendryes,
an artist, art historian and curator, among her publications are a book called The
Barthe, a life in sculpture. She has also curated exhibitions including Luth’s reflections on African-America from the Amistad Research
Center fine arts collection, and that was presented at the
New Orleans Museum of Art. An addition to being
a scholar and curator, she is also a practicing artist. She has a multimedia studio practice inspired by African studies,
and it’s intersection with black music and visual culture. She is currently professor of art history and chair of Performing and Fine Arts, and director of the Fine
Arts Gallery at York College, part of the City University of New York. The talk she is giving this afternoon is in fact, sort of a homecoming as she is revisiting the subject that she spoke about at
Art Deco weekend in 1996. And the theme is Discovering Africa in Art Deco Design and Beyond. So, please welcome
Doctor Margaret Vendryes. (people clapping) – As with all the formal
things about me, it’s over. Let’s begin, yes 1996, every
gray hair, I earned it. And when I did that plug, I didn’t have to wear glasses to do that either. But in 1997, right after this premier, I had a great time doing this talk>. I did receive my doctorate
from Princeton University. So, I think that this little tick on my CV might have helped. So, I’m back to revisit
some of what I said and some of what I wrote. They actually published this in the Preservation
League’s magazine as well. So, I couldn’t get way through
ideas that I said. (laughs) And I have found, that since technology is now on my side, I actually
did this talk with slides in a carousel projector. (people laughing) Now, things are online and I can show you, and I have found a lot more through doing new research and through databases that I have access to. And also, to the amazing
amount of stuff that’s online if you know how to ask for it from Google. We all should know that
if you word it right, you’ll find it, if you don’t, you won’t. So, I’m going to show some
things that I did show last time, and with a little more fuller knowledge of those things. But I wanted to tell you just
a little bit about myself, and my connection to Africa. This is, you know Marilyn. And that’s Donna Summer, who actually did a parody of Marilyn
Monroe on the back of her Four Seasons with Love album. And I saw a connection
between that parody. Her very mask-like look on her face, and an African mask
that’s in my collection. Actually, it was the first
mask that I acquired. And since, I have acquired a lot more. And I brought three
objects from my collection for folks to handle and to get
up close and personal with. My collection has grown immensely. It started as just what I’m doing here as a teaching tool. And I would take, I teach African right. Note, I never took an African art class. ‘Cause where I went to school, African art wasn’t really considered what you taught an art historian. So, I had to teach
myself about African art. Which was actually a very good journey. And I saw a connection
between that Baule mask and the performances of the Baule mask, and this parody that
Donna Summers was doing for her album. And this is the painting
that came out of it. So, this is the first painting in what I had called
the Africa Diva project. I do have a website, and
if you ever get a chance, just check me out. And see that now the African Divas are 45 paintings long I guess. Ranging from small works on
paper to 60 by 60 paintings. So, it’s been a connection to Africa that’s very important to
me and very precious to me. And I have a bunch of
notes for these slides, which you know what, I
might not even look at them. This is what has happened on Thursday. So, I didn’t really have
much time to prepare for this on top of the date. Of course, I was working
ever since the invitation but this outside of what is now the Jamaica Performing Arts Center on Jamaica Avenue in Queens. And they’re cut-out’s of seven of my African Diva paintings that are written large and printed for a temporary exhibition. So, that’s kinda what I’m doing now, a little bit public, a little bit private, a little bit art history,
little bit of painting and now in situation you never get too old to try something new. (laughs) That’s how I feel. And what you find when you look for Deco and Africa is amazing online. If you look, the very first sentence the art is of Art Deco mentions Africa. That did not happen in 1996. That was not possible for
me to find it so easily. And then there were those
who were selling African art. Who are going and attaching African art to Art Deco. So, it’s there, it’s there and
now we have DECO ART AFRICA, and these are objects that you can buy. They’re made recently for the most part. Most of them 20th century or 21st century, but very much made within a
traditional form for Africa because that’s what the
people who are collecting or decorating with these
objects in their spaces are looking for. And I’ll show you, as we go along that even though African
artists can be conservative. In other words, they
conserve the tradition of the forms that they make. They are also quite open to innovation and to change, and to their own individual stylistic ways. So, it’s not as some
would think, backwards. It’s not backwards. So, we have Art Nouveau . We’re to go from here to here in a very short period of time. This idea of walking away,
changing up, rethinking the flow of nature. Something that is considered
much more delicate, much more organic to a very machine-like. That’s Cartier, so we won’t worry about whether or not it’s mass made. (laughs) (crowd laughing) That’s a Cartier broch
and those dangling pieces. They kinda sorta make it look
a little bit like a butterfly. Those come off and you
wear them as earrings. So, you know, yay Cartier. But you got this staccato,
very geometric look to it. It is definitely much more hard-edged, and it doesn’t necessarily remind you of what came before it. So, it is really a statement by designers to go forth. Let me tell you what I’m
not gonna talk about. I’m not gonna talk about the
North African, the Egyptian influence on Art Deco. I think that is already pretty well known. Everybody agrees that sure enough, ever since Tutankhamen’s cave was opened, his tomb was opened in 1922. There was a great deal of interest in how one could be Egyptian. Especially because of how opulent the contents of that tomb was. How much gold, how many jewels. That sort of stuff. And there were neck rests, like the one that I will pass around as well. The Egyptian with their very
great and opulent hairstyles that they would use those
neck rests to preserve them. And that’s what they used for
in sub-Saharan Africa as well. And that’s where I’m going to concentrate most of my talk on sub-Saharan Africa. There was also a request
when I was asked to speak, to talk a little bit about
how African-Americans connected to African art
during this period as well. And the connection was ambivalent. This cartoon was published in Vanity Fair. It’s done by an illustrator
by the name of Cork Rubieth. And we have here a couple,
especially the woman who is saying what kind of art is that? Except that Cork Rubieth has
drawn her to look somewhat just like feign roguely figure. In 1927, we had the Negro
in Art Week in Chicago. One of the very first
times that African art and contemporary African-American art was shown together. That there was a connection. But the connection was to prove that African-Americans
were no longer primitive. That they could paint like
Europeans could paint. That they had the facility
to do the delicate work and they were not like Africans. So, as you can see we have
Tutankhamenesque Appear. Egypt, they’re throwing Egypt forward as this idea of civilization
in Africa et cetera. And the Sub-Saharan Africa
is tucked down here. So, you have these black figures in their tuxedos et cetera. It was a great deal of effort to show that they had moved beyond
their African ancestry. And in the face of
attempts at the same time to move away from the caricature of African-Americans as loyal retainers who raise white children,
buffoons, comics, vaudeville actors et cetera, into a more sophisticated environment. I show you Alain Locke up
there, and I quote him. His efforts to get
African American artists, writers, musicians, and visual artists to think differently about the legacy of their past. To think differently about how African art can embellish their work,
can inspire their work. A lot of that came out of, this is 1925. A lot of that came out of the fact that by 1907, European artists had already begun collecting African art. And had already begun using it to conspire to change to
revitalize their work. But still, one still has to make a living out what one knows how to do. So, you would have the vaudeville dancers, the musicians et cetera,
and then you would have poets like Langston Hughes
whose Misery is on the top. And that’s Erin Douglas,
an African-American illustrator and painter. That is his rendition for the poem Misery. So, you can see that there’s an effort to do some of the very
linear, very annular work that’s coming out of Art Deco. But still the ambivalence is there. This is very naturalistic. Is it African art? Is a still life, and not
necessarily something that is living, and
something that is living within African-American artists. So, we have quite a battle. And Locke continued to publish
about this legacy of Africa, and wanted to inspire
artists to think differently. But in the face of that. These both are from 1930. In the face of that, you’re still dealing with this sense of the primitive, a sense of the savagery of black people. Them as coming forward, this is a woven silk fabric from 1930. And that’s a tobacco tin. So, you have exclusive objects that are showing new kinds of
patterning that is going on. These overall patternings. If you take a look at
design in clothing factories before this period, you’ll see that there’s
very little patterning. Except in very expensive,
woven fabrics, silks et cetera. When printing a fabric comes about, the ability to bring
the Art Deco aesthetic on to the body changes. And you get more vibrant
patterns et cetera. And I’ll show you stuff. And that of course is a tobacco tin. I mean that was something
that was widely disseminated. Upstairs is that it’s the only piece that I had access to. Which slide to show
you, this is Raoul Dufy. And he did this hunting pattern which it’s sort of it’s
a homage in many ways to French fabrics that were very popular before this time. But he has blended together
African or tropical palm trees with what looks like a
16th century Dutch hunter and his dogs, and then
there’s gazelles in the top. So, there is a sense of
an interest in the exotic. A sense of interest in
something different, in somewhere else. To hold on to tradition and move beyond it at the same time. And I show you, these are
also Raoul Dufy’s patterns. The two element patterns. The jungle aesthetic, and I show you one of his patterns being worn. So, now we’re dealing
with printed fabrics. And this is what I was talking about, things become more vibrant
right on people’s bodies. And then there was also
the craze for animal furs. This is before PETA. And so, we have leopard, we
have cheetah, we have zebra, and we have monkey trim here. So, during the 1920’s and
30’s, this was in vogue. That was because as colonialism dug in its feet, maybe it was its nails, much of this material was
being brought out of Africa. And so, the designers, the coat designers, the dress designers become very enamored with how you can really offer something that is totally different. These women would have worn these things as someone who was part
of the avante-garde. That you would definitely be different. This was bohemian in many ways. Even though very much out of
reach to your average shopper. I mean we’re talking
about very elite objects. So, I wanna step back for a little bit and just talk about how
African art was encountered, or if at all. It was mostly in ethnographic collections in the science museums. Those kinds of places. They were not exhibited as works of art. They were also exhibited with as types. So, it didn’t matter
whether it was Nubian spear and a Kua spear. All spears went together
because there was a sense that Africa was not a continent
but a country, a place. It’s a very big place, you could fit four of the United States, four of us into the continent of Africa. It’s a large place with many,
many, many diverse groups inside of it. But that was not the concern when in the late 19th
century when these kinds of exhibitions and halls
of science took place. And there was also the attraction to the savage, primitive, barbaric, pagan that was considered to be African. And all the stereotypes that came with it. Africans never wore
clothes, they were crude, they were primitive. And so, when the futurists, the cubists, the synchronists, the
surrealists especially. When those artists began doing things that were not making most art lovers and art collectors comfortable, their attraction in
collecting of African art began to build, what do
you call a reputation that these particular
artists that view beyond what people can understand,
and easily embrace? It took a while. I mean now, Picasso could’ve
scribbled his signature on two lines and it’s up for auction for two million. But (laughs) back then
you could get a Picasso ’cause nobody was terribly interested. It took a while. And then along came Stieglitz. And there was a couple of others as well. But Stieglitz is the most well known. He did this exhibition, of course he was still
calling it African Savages because let’s face it, you got
to get that label out there in order for people to come in. So, using the term savage was exciting to certain people. I mean we now go get to see a savage and it’s in an art gallery. But look at the difference
in the presentation. We now have what we would understand to be an art show. And that was the moment of transition where we now understand that there is something to be seen that is artistic about the works that are
coming out of Africa. Slowly, but surely, in different ways, we have expedition people
who went, missionaries who brought them back,
colonizers who brought them back. And then they became over time traders. African traders who were
coming into the United States bringing work with them. And then we have our very
well known collectors. This is the Arnsberg
apartment on 67th street, in the west side of Manhattan. They lived there until about 1925. And those are two close ups of objects that are on their sideboard. And the Arnsbergs like
Barnes, and most of you probably heard about Alfred Barnes. Especially since there was all that hoopla about them moving him from the suburbs in Philadelphia on to the mall, down from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And I have to say, they
did a very good job of reproducing the feel
of being in his home. Inside of a very new spiffy,
very technologically museum. But this was one of his rooms where you can see even
though he lived in the house that he made into a museum. This is all a private museum that he let people in by invitation. That he has placed the African objects along with folk art, steel,
pan wrought steel, Amish stuff and all of this together. It’s ’cause he sees that
as being a connection. And he understood that the artist of those various movements,
Matisse especially. He has a huge collection of Matisse. We’re looking at African art for more than just to collect. Or more than just curios. That these artists were
collecting these works of art in order to learn from them. That was something that did not really get spoken much about. And I just wanted to show you where Africa shows up
on the magazine pages. We have a, this is a
1928, this is actually selling an engagement ring. It’s an ad of course, we don’t actually read that much of ads
anymore we just get through. ‘Cause one image gets through and you have to rename it. Now, back then you
actually got information about what they were trying to sell you. But if you just read the image you have this princess, this empress and she is being carried by these really able bodied young black men with earrings. So, it is opulent, it is also playing with the Deco aesthetic. On the other side is radio. And they’re using the talking drum which a lot of people had understand being a very important part of what the drum does in Africa. And that isn’t always true
from one group to the next. But this idea that you have,
you have this heathen way that is very good to transmit sound. So, they are connecting this ability to transmit sound over long distances with their radio. So, we have now in Africa that has a value for the technology that is coming forward in the 1920’s and the 1930’s. That’s Marlene Dietrich. The legs lady. Anyway, she is in Blonde Venus. That was a movie, a silent film that came out in 1932 and this is a poster for an exhibition at the 1897 when there were these large exhibitions, like World’s Fair’s all
over the western world. And they had zoo-like settings where various African groups would be, they would build a mock village, and the people would
function inside of that space during the exhibition. So, they were on view. So, they had Africans in a zoo. This is a Ashanti people. If you had ever shown
this image to an Ashanti during that time. First of all, women never
ever wore skins, animal skins. They were use the kings, the
chiefs, the warriors perhaps. You would never see this scene if you had gone to Africa. But because they are
describing African people, the women can be bare breasted at the turn of the last century, in the late 19th century. You would not see a poster for something that was happening that included European descent women bare breasted. That was unheard of. Unheard of. So, it just kind of gives you a feeling of how black people were seen as so completely other, that
the kind of decency issues that are in place during
that very same time does not apply to them. And of course, Blonde Venus
who is completely covered. And all of those African warriors with their very stylized shields behind her are also
white people in make-up. So, we did not have on film in 1932, unless it was from a film
that was an all black cast, you did not have the races
mixed, at least not here. Okay, just wanted to share with you one of Picasso’s lines
which he said in 1917 to his friend the art
collector and philosopher and writer Apollinaire. And one of the things about this quote that I find most interesting
is the very last line, where he says he loathes exoticism. And I don’t know what else is here in the famous Les Denoiselles D’avignon that isn’t exotic. He based this photograph
on an image of a brothel. I think that was in Avignon. And he did indeed at that
time although in 1907, he had just begun to pay attention. He would spend time in the Trocadero in the African galleries. I’ve seen photographs of the Trocedero during that time. Now it’s the Museum D’Avignon in Paris, where everything is just
piled on top of each other. There’s no didactics, there’s no labels. You don’t know what you’re looking at, you don’t know what they’re talking about, it’s just everywhere. So, he walked away from those
experiences completely moved because at that moment he was looking for a way to make something else other than the naturalistic
paintings that was expected of the painters during that time. He wanted to be really different. Everyone who saw this back when it was completed in 1907 thought he had lost his mind. No one liked it. Most people laughed, some people said he wanted to turn it to the wall, don’t you dare try and show this now because our reputation will be lost. Those other avante-garde artists were saying if you’re going to break the frame in the way you have, you’re gonna have to
do that in your studio ’cause nobody’s gonna be ready for it. And you know, they were right. He didn’t show this piece until 1937. And this is his Ma Jolie and again, this is the analytic cubist phase, later on not right into the 20th yet. I know I can’t remember the exact date, but I know we’re not into the 20th yet. But I want you to think about how it’s not a slavish representation of African Art these
artists were looking for and what they were doing. They were looking at the
facet actually on the body. And I’ll show you some African
bodies patterning as well as we go on. But those are the things
that were very exciting. The geometric patterning, they
didn’t know what they meant. When a body is patterned like that it speaks to a lineage,
it speaks to an age grade. Sometimes it speaks to the group that that African person
belonged to or owned this piece. And I’m gonna show you Leger, because at the same time we have the machine age coming through. And he is sort of polishing off his news. And he is doing that to one of the most revered genres in painting. Is the female nude. The most revered. And he is turning them into automatons. And Leger also did costuming. So, we have artists who are working their way around various
different design realms as well as what is called
the fine art realms because fine art now, the term fine art, nobody’s using it much anymore. Because we have learnt how to embrace more the decorative arts. As a matter of fact, those door stops that we used to teach art history. It’s a real class, and it
would give you a hernia if you carried around a lot. There was no design in there. The decorative arts was always considered its own separate area. That is changing quite a bit. And its a good thing
because we are holistic. We live in a world with the
architecture, and the fabrics, or the jewelry, shoes, that’s a big part of what we see when we look at the walls in galleries and in museums. So, I put these two together just again to help you see how design. Now The Creation of The World we all should know by now that we all have a connection
to Africa, all of us. That’s where it began, right. The ethnographers are saying it, all the scientists are saying it, that’s where it all began. We all have a little
bit of Africa somewhere. So, The creation of The World might have been ironic
back then, I don’t know. But he has created an environment that very much echoed the aesthetic that is coming out of Africa. And that was a very little ivory piece that I blew up quite large for you. And again, another play. Andre Gide, 1947 Nobel
prize in literature. His play was staged in 1922 in
these Africanesque costumes. And, although very few
people had the opportunity to go to Africa, either
as explorers et cetera. Very few people got the postcards that came out of these visits to Africa were very disseminated quite a lot. So, that is a postcard from 1925. And of course, the 1925
Exposition that created, they shake the world in terms of what was happening
to the decorative arts. During this time of course
it was in Paris, in 1925. It was a big exhibition. A lot of money was poured into it. And a lot of things
that were on view there I was told through reading some of those reviews that came back out of experiences of having gone through this exhibition that Africa was very much in the minds of many of the decorators who are on here. One of the things about
this exhibition as well, is that they did not let any designers who were still looking
at doing very traditional sort of Art Nouveau stuff,
they didn’t let them in. This was supposed to be an exhibition of what was new and what was
modern, what was industrial. I show you Man Ray here. I found these two images from him, the negative and the positive together in one book that I read. And what it did for me beyond this idea of you can be black, you can be white. It doesn’t matter, we’re all equal. Even though it’s a mask that
is being turned to white. That mask, and this is
a photograph from 1922. That mask is already what
we would call tourist art. I put next to it, a Baule Mblo mask which is a portrait to give you a sense of how much more of embellished a real Mblo mask would look like. That is something that
should be hung on a wall. That’s not something that would be worn in a dance performed. The thing about African art, we can access seeing masks now in many of
the most prestigious museums. The Rockefeller galleries at the Met have some of the most
amazing things from Africa. But they’re not meant
to be seen like this. They’re meant to be more. You wouldn’t be able to scrutinize a mask in the manner that we
can scrutinize it now. They’re supposed to dance, they’re supposed to make you frightened. They have a job to do. And the job really isn’t
for us to admire them even though we’re very
fortunate that we can. And so, again with printed
fabrics comes about. You have artists who are taking their work and creating the environments that are lived with their work. So, Delaunay here, she
has this wonderful situ en and we’ll talk about
situ en a little bit more as I go forward, and also on fabrics. A very nouveau, very bohemian people. And these are not folks who
were working class people. These are folks who have a connection to a very elite circles,
often very wealthy. The Delaunay’s were wealthy. And I show you this decorative mask from a group that I had
never heard of in my life. I took it from a database 1898. I don’t know what that word
might have been changed into. Over the years what African
art has been written about, the ways that groups are
identified has changed. So, very often you’d have to go back and match images to the names in order to figure out the, oh that’s somebody from the Nigeri tribe or Ashanti that I did do that. Anyway decorative. Decorative works of art
coming out of Africa being made in Africa,
for the decoish trade from that time, from early on like that. And I just show you Alberto Giacometti which is in the Metropolitan. So, this is not something
that I am making up. In other words, there’s
a direct connection between African art and American, and western, European
artists and designers. And I’m not shortchanging or thinking that the machine age is not important. The machine age actually
did play into this as well. But if you look at the mask like on that alien robot from Metropolis, 1927. 1926. This is the poster and that’s
a still from the movie. But the mask is still very
prevalent in this imaginary, this was actually supposed
to be the year 2000. Okay, and I think you know,
we’re not that far off. (laughs) And in America, I don’t
wanna shortchange America. A lot of what I’ve been talking about is happening in France. In America we had artists
like Georgia O’keeffe who was Stieglitz’s wife. So, she was also very much in tune with what was going on with
the paired down form et cetera. Where she did these two of New York. The skyscrapers of New York. And then there’s a common man. I don’t want to leave the common man out. The Alladin lunchbox, which
was for men, for working men. 1921. And the Coldpoint refrigerator, 1933. So, it was around that time when the average consumer,
the middle class consumer and the working class consumer were beginning to understand what it meant to stream things down. It turned a sense of how image, I mean image in the kitchen
didn’t really matter. Right now, I live in a 1937 apartment that I had to completely tear apart because the kitchen was this big, and nobody went in there except the women. You know, and these were monsters too, very big refrigerators. But that idea that there was an image that you would create a kitchen that had an image because people would finally start seeing it. That kind of thing. This happens, so we’re not left out. The average folk isn’t left out. So, here is Jacque Doucet’s studio. Which was designed by Legrand. And he chose works of pieces
of furniture et cetera. Notice that these are real. If you see an image from
this age, this is 1929, you know it’s real skin. They couldn’t fake it like we can now. Some of the synthetic
furs that we have now really are, fool the eye,
really comfortably. (laughs) So, you can see Doucet’s collection. And it is an aura of Africa. Jacque Doucet did not collect African art. But he was very into
the African aesthetic. So, this is Eileen Gray’s
side table right here. Wood, lacquered wood. And here’s one of the examples of what Eileen Gray might
have been looking at. And there are books written about Gray and she does, she has talked about her interest in African art. So, again it’s not something
that’s just it looks like, it is actually something that happened. And that her trend had others. This is Jacquline, also created. Then there is the La Leek door, which is glass and steel. And I show you a Yoruba
door which is wood. And carved with the various
exploits of the king. This is a palace door. And I show you Legrand’s wood
covered in shark skin stool. Which is in the corner right here. And Legrand in particular,
these are all his. And this one is an Ashanti stool up in the top here which is
carved from one piece of wood. That was the one thing that
not many of the designers was able to pull off. To work one piece of wood
into a piece of furniture. And I just wanted to show you this because I was so tickled
that I found this image of the love seat and
again, an Ashanti stool. And then there was borrowing
from Africa to France and back again. So, we have just a chair chair that was taken by the
colonials into Africa. Then we have the king’s chair. Because they wanted to sit on something that big men sat on. So, this one here actually
does have rungs in it. That is not carved from one piece of wood. And then Legrand whose
got one of these chairs, turned his chair into a chair
that looked like their chair. So, there is a borrowing
that is going on as well. There’s a certain amount
of respect for innovation that is going round and round. And as I mentioned to you I would say. This is 16th century Ashanti king’s stool that has inlays of metal. And this is a stool that
you could buy today online. So, as you can see. (laughs) It has been modernized and still the tradition is held on to. And they’re not very expensive, three to 500 dollars if
you look really well. Go on Ebay to, always good stuff on Ebay. And I wanted to show you,
this is Yves St. Laurent’s living room, sitting room,
smoking room, whatever. And his Giacometti which
was, all of his stuff was auctioned by Christies
in 1978, I think it was. And I show you this Melena figure to kind of let you see this echo there. But the echo’s not real. Because we didn’t know about
these figures until 1968. And that piece by Giacometti
I believe is 1922. So, even though you can say,
oh it looks like, is like. Don’t get caught in doing that. As a historian I would
get tar and feathered for doing stuff like that. But doesn’t it make a nice comparison. It does, it’s a great
comparison, okay. (laughs) And I’m running out of time. I wanted to take you online
but I’m not going to. And you can do this on your own. If you come up I’ll give you the website. But the 1925 exhibition was
redone in 2013, in Paris. And a lot of the objects that were in the original exhibition were found and brought back together. This is a very short video. But one of the things that
when I was watching the video. You don’t really need to listen to it, you just want to look at it. There was this display
of cats on the cars. – [Audience Member] Hood ornaments. – Hood ornaments and radiator caps. And I’m going okay well there’s the one that everybody
knows Baleifs glass. And then there’s the stuff down here. There are the Mangbetu hood ornaments. These are exquisitely
beautiful and photographical group of people in the
Congo called the Mangbetu. And the women style
their hair in that way. They actually wrap their
female children’s heads from when they’re babies
in order to elongate them. And they were a big part of the Citroen’s trip through the Congo,
through the sub-Saharan Africa. There was a movie made about it in 1926. There was a movie made about it. There was images that were published in Vanity Fair et cetera. Once again, bare breasted is okay because they’re exotic,
because they’re different. The eroticism of it is
kept not talked about. And because the Mangbetu realized how people were drawn to them,
outsiders were drawn to them, they started making works in ivory, in stoneware et cetera
with their images on it. Because there became a
market for their images. – [Audience Member] How do they sleep? How do they sleep? – On one of those neck rests. I mean that is one of the ways that you would keep your
head raised off the ground. Because it took forever to
wrap their heads in that way. They also always wore these
aprons covering the back. So, that when they sat on the ground they weren’t on the ground. And these are wives, the Mangbetu kings, some of them would have over a 100 wives. The more wives you had,
the more offspring you had, the longer your line would be. And so, we have also. This is Hardt. And I can’t remember his first name, but his last name is H-a-r-d-t. Hardt was the organizer
of the Citroen trip across sub-Saharan Africa. And he brought back many objects with him. And as you can see on his wall, he has some of those aprons. Which the women may not but now believes they burned and died in a certain way so that they could create
these very distinctive designs. No woman would want to wear
a design that looked it, does that sound familiar? (crowd laughing) Craig don’t you dare
wear that dress. (laughs) And of course the skins and where I read and found this image supposedly those were skins
of animals that he shot. And then we have this slip drum. Which is a huge monster of a thing, it can even get bigger than this. That were used in the king’s orchestra. This is also Mangbetu. And was also used to send messages to far off huts et cetera
within the village. So, that is just curiously sitting there where as being turned into a coffee table. And this was a smoking room. So, of course, you know,
the women of his circles would not come into this room. And that’s Iacola, is
the name of the painter. And he was taken along on the exhibition to actually make drawings of what they saw beyond taking photographs. And I’m running out of time here. And I’m not going to say
a whole hell of a lot, but I am gonna let you
see the rest of my slides. This is Nancy Canard, she was what was referred to as a negrophile. And there were a lot of negrophiles in Paris and New York during this time. And she was taken to
wearing these ivory panels, these ivory bangles piled
up on top of each other. She hung out with black people. She was the partner of an
African-American writer. And then she was disowned from her family. You know the Canard lines, and they’re still on the water today. So, she ended up being
disowned from her family because of her interest
and her willingness to be a part of what was going on in the world of African-American and in Paris as well. So, she was naughty. The large heavy ivory
bangles on the edge there were actually worn by
Dinga men, not women. And the ones at the top are Mangbetu. And so, I’m just gonna show
you some of the images. How African-Americans in Paris sort of turned around people’s images of what African people could do and how much entertaining they could be. And this I am gonna let you see. This is the famous banana dance. And it’s only a few minutes
long and you see her arriving in the trees. And you’ll notice when they did come and visit this to do this filming, she wore a bra. She didn’t wear a bra normally which makes actual more sense and is much more attractive. But basically, at this
moment Josephine Baker was supposed to be a monkey with a collection of bananas. And you have her hunter, the explorer looking really bored. (crowd laughing) How they could look bored when
she was looking like that, I have no idea. So, if you’ve never saw
that, but heard about it, there it is and it is
actually available online. But Josephine and I want you to see, I sent around the ear flap. The design, that’s actually
an earring, an ear flap. That I sent around for you to see. This is Denant’s neck rings. There’s Josephine in one
of his lacquer panels. And here is an actual scarred back, a designed back of an African woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And how those kinds of patterns show up on African pottery as well. And then not all of the designs that Africans use were meant
to be something spiritual. This is a nouveau one,
this is a very elaborate scarification that she has. But that is a status symbol. It’s a status symbol. And if a woman was able to go through that kind of patterning on her body, she was revered. This is someone who is very strong, and very resilient. And I just show you a
decoupage on the side. Grenoble is the name of the designer. Just the rounded edges as if the pot had been cut into as if
it was cutting into skin. And I want you to see a king. And a Kente cloth is woven, strip woven. And this is a particularly
royal pattern as well. And that’s another Denan lacquer panel. The civilizations of Africa have the same level of
pomp that they do in London and Paris et cetera, with
their various regalia. And that the patterns, this is 1923, the patterns, this was
a collector in Brooklyn, who brought these I showed you, I have the woven piece going around. And they because of the
ability to print on cotton, that these designs were part of what influenced these kinds of patterns for women’s dresses. And that it’s a collaborative effort between the men, that make the base, the women who weave,
embroider and the patterning. The patterns are for each one is different from the other, and you’ll never see
two that are the same. They are not machine made. And according to people who
research closely, the Kuba. The women very often tell
stories inside their patterns. Whoever is in the circle of embroidery would know the story that’s
being told and that’s it, all we get is the design. So, I show you some other ones. This is Legrand. This is Legrand, French. These are African, the influence, the inspiration for his work. And again, Eileen Gray. And this is a Bagga initiation, that’s actually worn on the head. It stands on the head,
it’s tied on with a basket. And the allure. The sort of the warmth that
African art will bring. And this is an actual
Ashanti stool, this time. Instead of someone else resting on it. And again, this is
Legrand and a Degas stool. And I have to show you this
’cause I found some online. Is that not amazing? That is the whole zebra. Maybe two or three
zebra’s that are on there. But it’s still alive, it
still survived all this time. And how we still have rooms. Have access to designers
who are doing rooms that have that African feel. This is Lichtenstein’s
and it is actually made interior with an African mask. (crowd laughing) And it’s a huge painting
and then the African mask. So, that is what is what
is making it stand out. Travel during the 1920’s and 30’s. This is actually a 16th century salt jug. And one of the very first tourist arts that came out of Africa. The Portuguese commissioned it, they brought images of stemmed goblets and ask the carvers to replicate it. And knives and spoons, and forks were not used in Africa. These were carved out of ivory by Mangbetu designers
for the tourist trade. And today, I just wanted to show you some of these sort of correlations that I found. This is my mind working, and you might not be able
to follow with other. I’m gonna share it with you anyway. This idea that the
eroticism is spectacular, that is Africa in people’s minds continues with the sale of objects like bathing suites, and
jewelry and lingerie, and shoes. Do note in the heel. I would go back in the heel of this Dior, you know
dangerously high (laughs) pair of sandals. And that remain to the beat of Africa. Right, you can even buy
a scarf used for west and you pay the rent. (laughs) You know, was Hermes Le Jack you know. It’s about that Africa has an appeal even for the highest end goods that can be purchased. What does this mean? In the end, what does this mean? Because, I kept looking for ways that connecting to Africa
through the decorative arts in this country, and in
the rest of western Europe has created a change in the way that we approach what Africa means, and what African design,
which is what you see here in this Masai mother with African design has done for us. I don’t know, I still see it,
it’s still sensationalized. It’s still spectacular,
it’s still the other. Even though we are supposed to be in a much smaller world now. Thank you. (crowd clapping) (crowd clapping)

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