Defining Beauty: African Art through American Eyes

Christa Clarke, independent curator/scholar, arts of global Africa and affiliate, Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts


The first decades of the twentieth century witnessed a growing appreciation of African art in the West, fueled by colonial-era collecting and mediated by modernist sensibilities. Objects once seen as ethnographic artifacts came to be admired for their visual appearance, although appreciation was often not informed by an understanding of culturally specific aesthetics. This lecture looks at African art through the eyes of American collectors, exploring the various ways they saw beauty in African art.


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