Baule: African Art Western Eyes is a model of cultural sensitivity and respect. The author, Susan Mullin Vogel, a director at the Yale Art Gallery and a leader in the field of African art for decades, has lived among the Baule, and her deep knowledge, curiosity, and understanding is evident on every page. “There are four Baule words for looking and seeing in general,” she writes, “and these are used in revealingly specific ways in reference to works of art. They clearly indicate the kind of looking that is appropriate to different kinds of artworks, and they differentiate among objects that anyone can look at, objects that must never deliberately be looked at, and all the degrees between.” Baule art has had a worldwide following for more than a century, but its subtleties and meanings have remained elusive. This important book is filled with pictures of Baule masks, paintings, sculptures, and house decorations–both antique and contemporary. But Vogel also includes documentary photographs of village brides wearing gold jewelry, wood carvers old and young, masked dancers exhorting children to follow them to a ceremony, drummers and other musicians, costumed actors, young men and women with their “spirit” spouses (carved figurines intended to bring them a mate)–in other words, art in context. The book’s design is both hip and exquisite; all the material–pictorial and narrative–breathes with contemporary life. –Peggy Moorman
From Library Journal
The Baule are a major culture group in central Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) whose art has interested Westerners since the beginning of this century. Vogel, a leading authority on African art, has spent several decades researching Baule art and aesthetics, as well as studying the nature of Western appreciation of that art. In this book, designed to accompany an exhibition of the same name, Vogel has done a masterly job of revealing the meaning, relevance, and power of the full range of sacred, personal, performance, and utilitarian art objects among the Baule. Of course, masks and figure sculptures justifiably receive the greatest emphasis. The text, while scholarly, is refreshingly free of academic jargon and the use of footnotes, presumably to appeal to a wider audience. Accompanying the text are excellent, mostly color, photographs of objects in both Baule and museum settings. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries with an interest in art and/or African studies.?Eugene C. Burt, Art Inst. of Seattle Lib.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.