African and Oceanic Art

Margaret Trowell, Hans Nevermann
Since earliest explorations of the African continent and of the scattered islands of the South Pacific, the European mind has been fascinated by the ritual figures and exotic carved images brought back as gifts or booty by generations of travelers and colonizers. Such objects have long been prized for their strange appeal, but it was not until the beginning of the 19th century that there first arose a true appreciation of their aesthetic--as opposed to ethnographical--value and quality. The "discovery" of African form by the Cubists and of the obsessive art of Oceania by the Expressionists has led to an entirely new attitude in the appreciation of these mistakenly designated "primitive" arts. The profusion of illustrations in this book--a remarkable panorama of these arts--is ample evidence of the greatness of these highly developed modes of artistic expression. Margaret Trowell, whose writings, based on an intimate knowledge of Africa and its people, have won wide scholarly acclaim, brings a rate clarity to her subject. Dance masks, fetish figures, reliquaries, and purely decorative objects are all lavishly illustrated with carefully chosen examples and are related to the geographical, religious, and social conditions that inspired them. Hans Nevermann's contribution on the art of Oceania encompasses the whole vast area that includes New Guinea, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Stressing its fundamentally religious and magical purposes, he skillfully traces the complex interrelationships of the great diversity of styles, rejecting, for example, many questionable or erroneous assumptions that have stood in the way of true insights into the nature of these fascinating arts. 287 plates, 154 in full color and 2 maps are included.


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