Monroe, John Warne
African Sculpture and the Imperial French Invention of Primitive Art
Aims and Scope
From the 1880s to 1940, French colonial officials, businessmen and soldiers, returning from overseas postings, brought home wooden masks and figures from Africa. This imperial and cultural power-play is the jumping-off point for a story that travels from sub-Saharan Africa to Parisian art galleries; from the pages of fashion magazines, through the doors of the Louvre, to world fairs and international auction rooms; into the apartments of avant-garde critics and poets; to the streets of Harlem, and then full-circle back to colonial museums and schools in Dakar, Bamako, and Abidjan.
John Warne Monroe guides us on this journey, one that goes far beyond the world of Picasso, Matisse, and Braque, to show how the Modernist avant-garde and the European colonial project influenced each other in profound and unexpected ways. Metropolitan Fetish reveals the complex trajectory of African material culture in the West and provides a map of that passage, tracing the interaction of cultural and imperial power. A broad and far-reaching history of the French reception of African art, it brings to life an era in which the aesthetic category of "primitive art" was invented.
- 368 pages
- 117 b&w halftones, 1 map, 10 color plates 1 Fig.
- CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESS
- African Art, Primitive Art, Tribal Art, Modernism, Colonialism, Black Diaspora
"Metropolitan Fetish is a truly excellent book: ambitious in reach, rich in detail, and masterfully narrated. By establishing the complex commercial, colonial, and intellectual networks that made possible the revaluation of African sculpture, Monroe transforms our understanding of the French infatuation with black culture as a key marker of imperial modernity."
Christopher B. Steiner, author of African Art in Transit:
"This is a profoundly important book. Elegantly written and lavishly illustrated, Metropolitan Fetish will establish itself as a landmark in the history of the reception of African art in the West."
Bruno Claessens, European Director of African Art, Christie's:
"While traditional African art continues to capture new audiences, John Monroe tells the fascinating story of how it all began. We meet the avant-garde visionaries who looked beyond the ethnographic, re-classifying African material culture as 'Art.' A book full of historical pioneers you will want to get to know. Highly recommended!"