For a while now the winds of Africa have been blowing West. Fashion designers are finding inspiration in traditional African materials. Decorators are bringing prints and fabrics from the continent into our contemporary interiors along with wooden sculptures and masks. Even restaurants and their menus are finding inspiration, as is music with a mix of styles and rhythms and the emergence of new talent. And collectors are in on it too. It’s as if the artistic development of the African continent, while fragmented, is looking to the old continent (and beyond!) for renewed energy.
And museums are taking note! We could cite past exhibitions like ‘Seydou Keïta’ at the Grand Palais, ‘South Africa’ at the British Museum or “Good Hope: South Africa and The Netherlands” at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. And the contemporary art scene also laid out the red carpet at the recent Paris art fair: Art Paris Art Fair, l’Afrique à l’honneur (Africa Honored).
In any case, African art is everywhere and museums are putting forward its biggest artists to address various social, historical and artistic themes.
In Paris there are currently three exhibitions on show. Primitive Picasso at the Musée du Quai Branly explores the link between the painting giant and non-European, notably African, art. Crossroads Africa, also at Quai Branly, is a voyage on the continent’s waterways that have made it the “world’s intersection”. And then there is at the Fondation Vuitton the excellent show “Art/Africa: The New Workshop”, laying out the extensive and rich output of contemporary African art.
And then in the US, whether it’s at LACMA in Los Angeles with “The Inner Eye: Visions and Transcendence in African Arts”, the High Museum in Atlanta with “Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design“, or the Cleveland Museum with “African Master Carvers: Known and Famous”, a trend is borne as Africa claims its place on the world stage.