African Textiles Past and Present

23 Mar 2014
2pm - 3pm
The Barnes Foundation


Students from the School District of Philadelphia experience Yinka Shonibare MBE: Magic Ladders, on view at the Barnes Foundation. Photo courtesy of the Barnes Foundation.

Alisa LaGamma, curator of the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Met, discusses historical and contemporary African textiles and their use in contemporary art. The talk specifically illuminates the work of Yinka Shonibare.

This event has been organized in conjunction with The Barnes Foundation's exhibition Yinka Shonibare MBE: Magic Ladders.Nigerian-born, London-based Yinka Shonibare's first major Philadelphia exhibition since his artist residency at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in 2004 includes works of sculpture, photography, painting, and installation, with a focus on themes of education, enlightenment, and opportunity. It also includes a new commission, Magic Ladders, the Barnes Foundation's first collaboration with a contemporary artist since Alfred Barnes commissioned Henri Matisse's La Danse II in 1930. Shonibare, whose work offers a provocative exploration of race, slavery, economics, and European and African identities, conceived of this exhibition after researching Barnes' progressive educational practices. Barnes was one of the first American collectors to regard African art as fine art rather than ethnographic curiosity, though his acquisitions were made possible by the imperialist colonization of Africa. Shonibare's sculptures, particularly works like Scramble for Africa (2003), will raise inevitable questions about Barnes' practice when seen in this context, and will challenge traditional interpretations of the collection from a contemporary point of view.

This event costs $20; members $15. Magic Ladders admission included.