What a resource! I've now gone through all 13494
African thumbnails as well as thousands more
from non-African cultures and it was definitely
a fun way to pass a few hours as I sit here
recovering from a broken rib.
I am always thrilled to see a collection that
embraces relatively recent examples, including
some that were obviously made for the tourist/
export market. I think it is so enlightening
to see, for example, a very "touristy" looking
Kifwebe mask (2365-1) that is documented to be
pre-1954 juxtaposed with a very "authentic" looking
Bamana figure (4918-12) that was field-collected
in 1984. I think the latter example (which could
be from the 1970s) might easily turn up in a high-end
gallery or auction because of its pre-1940 vibe, while
the former, if it had no documentation, would probably
be dismissed as junk.
I realize its not just age but also apparent tribal
use that figures into these valuations, and I have
no quarrel with that, except that I also think that
one shouldn't go overboard on this factor of
"authenticity". Because it can be faked rather
convincingly, and has been for a long time.
That is why when I use descriptives such as "folk"
or "tourist" or "relatively recent", they are
just that, descriptives, not value judgements.
There are strong pieces of relatively recent
folk/tourist art just as there are artistically weak
pieces that are antique and tribally used.
(I think Susan Vogel did a famous lecture on this
topic about ten or fifteen years ago)
Also of course you have some African tourist art
that is now 60 or 70 years old and rare versus some
common but authentic used material made in the last
Anyway I think its wonderful when an institution like
the Tropenmuseum embraces so much of African culture
rather than continue to hype only what is "authentic".
> Some time ago -- in August -- we were discussing
> museums and galleries in
> Amsterdam featuring African works. Among the
> museums discussed was the
> Tropenmuseum. Since unfortunately I couldn't go
> myself, a friend of mine who was
> sojourning in Amsterdam for most of September
> promised to visit and report
> back. She has further confirmed Alex's impression
> that the African collection on
> exhibition at the Tropenmuseum is indeed significant
> in quantity and also
> found the accessible works wonderful in impact and
> Based on her report, I visited the Tropenmuseum
> web-site again and found
> that there is also a good on-line database of their
> collection, so I thought I
> would make it available for perusal. One note I
> should mention is that the
> search engine responds best to the Dutch
> renderings/spellings of names and
> terms, such as "Afrika," "Masken," "Ivoorkust,"
> "Cameroun, etc. so once you do an
> initial search and read an object description, you
> can further refine and
> adjust your search terms to track down objects of
> particular classes, regions
> and/or cultures more effectively.
> Tropenmuseum web-site: _www.kit.nl/tropenmuseum_
> Direct link to searchable
> =0;&geographynode=&subjectnode=&culturenode) "
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