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Re: [African_Arts] Updated Information on Tropenmuseum collection and on-line database

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  • William Klebous
    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
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 8, 2006
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      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".

      --- LRubinstein@... wrote:

      > 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
      > quality.
      > 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_
      > (http://www.kit.nl/tropenmuseum)
      > Direct link to searchable
      > =0;&geographynode=&subjectnode=&culturenode) "
      > Lee

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