Daily Archives: December 14, 2020

Electoral College Vote Officially Affirms Biden’s Victory

“The Artist’s Eye; The Diviner’s Insight” – The Maurer Collection – Amherst College:


Divination rituals vary greatly from one culture to another; but they are practiced throught the world- in the United States and Europe, as well as by the peoples of Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Participants in such rituals are concerned with a gain in knowledge, insight into the dilemmas that vex human experience. Divination is not a type of prophecy or soothsaying. To be sure, it is concerned with the future, but only as the future is shaped by past events, present circumstances, and by known and unknown powers. Rituals of divination focus upon the present, addressing human suffering and the quest for meaning: illness, the untimely death of a person, failure of crops, loss in the market place, discord within a family, or an entire community, with or without the ministrations of a priest.

When Barry D. Maurer, a lawyer and book collector, became interested in collecting African art, he decided to focus upon ritual artifacts used in rites of divination in Central and West Africa. Within a few years he assembled a remarkable collection that is unique in its focus and cultural breadth. Portions of the collection, such as the Luba kakishi (figs. 1a and 1b), reveal the artistry of a single people and the variety of styles employed by carvers in various Luba sub-cultures. As Maurer recognized, the widespread use of kakishi, each charming in its own right, provides a splendid basis for art-historical and stylistic analyses. In a note from Marc L. Felix, through whom Maurer collected many of his Central Africa artworks, the kakishi on the left (fig. 1a) was probably made by the “master carver attached to the court of King Ksongo Niembo since it has the same features as adzes and staffs which we know came from that workshop” (9 July 1988). Similar ritual artifacts used by the neighboring Songye people known as katatora exhibit an entirely different style to depict the human head and face in terms of geometric forms in contrast to the Luba’s more representational presentation (fig. 2).

As Maurer pursued his interests in the artistry of the peoples of Zaire (recently re-named The Democratic Republic of the Congo), he became aware of variation in divinatory ritual practices throughout Central Africa, as well as West Africa, and acquired additional pieces that caught his eye and represented various cultural groups. Unfortunately, he did not have time to address the numerous questions which the collection raises: the question of the relationship of artistry to ritual artifact and ritual efficacy; the determination of what constitutes a divination ritual artifact; and the hoary question of aesthetic valuation- whose?

… read more

The Artist’s Eye, the Diviner’s Insight: African Art in the Barry D. Maurer Collection Paperback – January 1, 1998
by John Pemberton 


Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought: Henry John Drewal, John Pemberton, III, Rowland Abiodun, Allen Wardwell

From Publishers Weekly

Arising around A.D. 800, the ancient, walled Yoruba kingdoms were complex city states headed by sacred rulers, both male and female. Their modern descendants, Yoruba-speaking peoples of Nigeria and Benin, have preserved traditional art forms rooted in a view of the cosmos as alive and in constant flux. The stunning catalogue of a traveling exhibition, this volume serves as a window onto a world where “character is beauty,” where rebirth occurs continuously and where spirits, gods and the life force are all-pervasive. Naturalistic terracotta heads, beaded crowns, ceremonial staffs topped with stylized birds, and objects in ivory, bronze, stone and wood display rare artistry. Many of the pieces shown are best understood in a ritual context, provided by Drewal, an art historian at Cleveland State University, and Pemberton, a professor of religion at Amherst.

Robert Thompson has called the study of Yoruba art “the Shakespeare studies of African art” because so much research has been focused on this one African culture. This book, which accompanies a major exhibition, fully justifies all that scholarly attention. Yoruba-speaking peoples are the largest ethnic group in Africa, one which has been urbanized for over 1000 years. The visual arts of the Yoruba are thoroughly explored as aesthetic objects in their social, religious, political, and historical contexts. This book, which deserves the highest recommendation, may well be the finest example of African art scholarship yet published.
– Eugene C. Burt, Seattle
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc

  • Publisher : Harry N Abrams Inc (June 1, 1990)
  • Language: : English
  • Hardcover : 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0810917947
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0810917941
  • Item Weight : 4.15 pounds
  • Dimensions : 9.5 x 1.25 x 12.25 inches

Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria: Henry John Drewal, Enid Schildkrout

Dynasty and Divinity presents a major part of the extraordinary corpus of ancient Ife art in terra-cotta, stone, and metal, dating from the ninth to the fifteenth centuries. Artists at Ife, the ancient city-state of the Yoruba people of West Africa (located in present-day southwestern Nigeria), created sculpture that ranks among the most aesthetically striking and technically sophisticated in the world. Dynasty and Divinity reveals the extraordinarily creative range of Ife art through a diversity of objects that includes handsome idealized portrait heads, exquisite miniatures, expressive caricatures of old age, lively animals, and sculptures showing the impressive regalia worn by Ife’s kings and queens. Together, these illuminate one of the world’s greatest art centers and demonstrate the technological sophistication of Ife artists, as well as the rich aesthetic language they developed in order to convey ideas about worldly and divine power.

The refined sculptures from Ife demonstrate the dignity and self-assurance associated with the idea of dynasty, as well as the results of misfortunes and violence that could befall human beings

Art and Risk in Ancient Yoruba: Ife History, Power, and Identity, c. 1300: Suzanne Preston Blier

In this book, Suzanne Preston Blier examines the intersection of art, risk, and creativity in early African arts from the Yoruba center of Ife and the striking ways that ancient Ife artworks inform society, politics, history, and religion. Yoruba art offers a unique lens into one of Africa’s most important and least understood early civilizations, one whose historic arts have long been of interest to local residents and Westerners alike because of their tour-de-force visual power and technical complexity.

Among the complementary subjects explored are questions of art making, art viewing, and aesthetics in the famed ancient Nigerian city-state, as well as the attendant risks and danger assumed by artists, patrons, and viewers alike in certain forms of subject matter and modes of portrayal, including unique genres of body marking, portraiture, animal symbolism, and regalia. This volume celebrates art, history, and the shared passion and skill with which the remarkable artists of early Ife sought to define their past for generations of viewers.


“First encountered by foreign observers a century ago, the arts of ancient Ife have since astonished and baffled scholars and connoisseurs alike. Blier’s research, Shakespearean in scope, at last connects these sublime sculptures to a tumultuous past and a vital present.”
Donald J. Cosentino, University of California, Los Angeles

“Blier deploys an understated rhetoric in this well-researched, historically grounded, thought-provoking analysis of Ife art, reverberating far beyond the field of African art history. … her fresh arguments are … precisely what had to be achieved by new critical scholarship on such a well-established corpus.”
Ikem Stanley Okoye, University of Delaware

“As much a history of ancient Yoruba art as an investigation into the ways in which the creation, exhibition, and preservation of art are seriously risky ventures, Suzanne Preston Blier’s magisterial new book brings medieval African art alive and reminds us that art and its meanings have been and will remain a subject of heated contention. This is the definitive analysis of the arts and civilization in the long and splendid history of the Yoruba culture.”
Henry Louis Gates, Jr, Harvard University, Massachusetts

“In the beginning of each of the chapters that are grouped under two parts, Blier’s deep understanding of the subject, particularly as displayed in some of the Yoruba proverbs as well as similitudes from revered western artists and thinkers, is not in doubt.”
Tajudeen Sowole, Nigerian Guardian

‘… a text that will quickly become the foundational work on Ife art and a model for art history as a multidisciplinary enterprise.’ Eric Gable, African Studies Review

Book Description

This book examines the intersection of art, risk and creativity in early African arts from the Yoruba center of Ife.

About the Author

Suzanne Preston Blier is Allen Whitehill Clowes Professor of Fine Arts and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, Massachusetts. Her first book, The Anatomy of Architecture: Ontology and Metaphor in Batammaliba Architectural Expression (Cambridge, 1987) won the Arnold Rubin prize. Her second book, African Vodun: Art, Psychology, and Power (1995), won the Charles Rufus Morey Prize. Other books include African Royal Art: The Majesty of Form (1998), Butabu: Adobe Architecture in West Africa (2003) and Art of the Senses: Masterpieces from the William and Bertha Teel Collection (2004). She was a member of the Collège de France International Scientific and Strategic Committee (2011–13) and is on the board of the College Art Association. Her past fellowships include CASVA (Paul Mellon Senior Fellow, the National Gallery of Art), John Simon Guggenheim, the Radcliffe Institute, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), Fulbright Senior Research, Social Science Research Council, American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and the Getty Center for the Study of Art.

Product details

  • Publisher : Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition (November 2, 2017)
  • Language: : English
  • Paperback : 598 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1108431046
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1108431040
  • Item Weight : 2.56 pounds
  • Dimensions : 7 x 1.21 x 10 inches

Arts of Global Africa: The Newark Museum : Christa Clark

The Newark Museum has been at the forefront of American art museums in its representation of the arts of Africa since 1917. Newark’s collection is notable for its embrace of the entire continent and its diaspora as well as for the breadth of artistic representation and inclusion of historic as well as modern and contemporary art. This catalogue is the first devoted to exploring this richly diverse collection, providing a comprehensive overview of African visual culture unmatched by most collection catalogues, ensuring its broad appeal and relevance.

The publication highlights one hundred works that represent this range, including masks and figural statuary, objects of domestic use, dress and adornment, sculpture, photography, paintings, and video art. Individual catalogue entries written by more than forty scholars are presented in chronological order. These are supplemented by essays that survey the museum’s pioneering history of collecting and exhibiting African art and highlight the unique strengths of the collection: arts of North Africa, textiles, Yoruba art, and modern and contemporary art. Collectively, the works in this publication offer a new vision of African art, one that reflects the diversity of artistic creativity on the continent and its global reach, both past and present.

About the Author

Christa Clarke is senior curator, Arts of Global Africa, at the Newark Museum. Contributors: Cynthia Becker, Henry John Drewal, Chika Okeke-Agulu, and Victoria L. Rovine

  • Publisher : Newark Museum (January 10, 2018)
  • Language: : English
  • Hardcover : 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0932828175
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0932828170
  • Item Weight : 5.45 pounds

Baule: Visions of Africa Series: Alain-Michel Boyer

The Baule descend from the Akan peoples who inhabit Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Three hundred years ago the Baule people migrated westward from Ghana when the Asante rose to power. The Baule now reside at the center of the Ivory Coast and possess one of the most diversified of arts cultures. They employ different media, including wooden sculpture, gold and brass casting similar to their Asante ancestors, and mask and figure carvings.

Their art is so varied that one might imagine some works originate from different cultures: what is there in common between a flat mask-disc and an idealized face mask which nevertheless come from a single ceremony? Or between a glazed statuette of a man or woman, and a monkey figure with the head of a dog, coated in coagulated blood?

Their art encompasses every form of creation: not only masks and statuettes, but also sculpted doors, decorated divination boxes, gold jewels. The book presents a selection of Baule masterpieces from public and private collections worldwide, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum of African art (Smithsonian), Art Institute of Chicago, Yale University Art Gallery, Fowler Museum of UCLA, University of Pennsylvania Museum.

Alain-Michel Boyer, professor of African art, became a member of the Conseil National des Universites in Paris after teaching at a number of American universities. He lived in a Baule village for three years and spends several months a year in Africa. He is the author of several books including Les Arts d’Afrique (Hazan, 2006).

Publisher : 5 Continents Editions (November 25, 2007)

Language: : English Paperback
160 pages
ISBN-10 : 8874393865
ISBN-13 : 978-8874393862

Who Were America’s Enslaved? A New Database Humanizes the Names Behind the Numbers | History | Smithsonian Magazine

By Meilan Solly smithsonianmag.com December 11, 2020

The night before Christmas in 1836, an enslaved man named Jim made final preparations for his escape. As his enslavers, the Roberts family of Charlotte County, Virginia, celebrated the holiday, Jim fled west to Kanawha County, where his wife’s enslaver, Joseph Friend, had recently moved. Two years had passed without Jim’s capture when Thomas Roberts published a runaway ad pledging $200 (around $5,600 today) for the 38- to 40-year-old’s return.

“Jim is … six feet or upwards high, tolerably spare made, dark complexion, has rather an unpleasant countenance,” wrote Roberts in the January 5, 1839, issue of the Richmond Enquirer. “[O]ne of his legs is smaller than the other, he limps a little as he walks—he is a good blacksmith, works with his left hand to the hammer.”

…(read more).

PA Attorney General: ‘Trump Has Infected The Country With Hate And Division’ | The Last Word | MSNBC


Published on Dec 11, 2020

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel join Ali Velshi to discuss Trump’s failed attempts to overturn the results of the election in key battleground states. Aired on 12/12/2020.

How Can Governments Stop COVID-19 from Supercharging Inequality?


Started streaming 23 minutes ago

Join us for a lively and provocative discussion on how governments can prevent COVID-19 from supercharging inequality. Join the online event via Zoom: https://oxfam.zoom.us/j/98241852155 The Guardian’s Aditya Chakrabortty moderates this star-studded panel featuring IMF’s Chief Economist Gita Gopinath, Sierra Leone’s Finance Minister Jacob Jusu Saffa, ICRICT Commissioner Jayati Ghosh, Development Finance International’s Matthew Martin, and Oxfam International’s new Executive Director, Gabriela Bucher. Filled with timely and relevant content, the online event will present findings from the Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index (CRI) 2020 (https://www.oxfam.org/…/fighting-in……) in the context of crippled economies, unemployment, massive revenue shortfalls, and high debt servicing, and discuss concrete proposals on how to tackle inequality in the years to come, and in a post-pandemic world. You don’t want to miss this one!