Subverting Beauty: African Anti-Aesthetics

  • through November 17, 2019
  • The Baltimore Museum of Art
Beauty stops us in our tracks. It makes us pause, look, consider. Sometimes it overwhelms us. We are often told art should aspire to this standard and be proportionate, symmetrical, naturalistic and orderly. But what of work that is designed to revolt and terrify? Across sub-Saharan Africa, artists working across a range of states, societies and cultures deliberately created artwork that violated conceptions of beauty, symmetry and grace—both ours and theirs. This exhibition features approximately two dozen works from sub-Saharan Africa's colonial period (c. 1880–1960) that are accumulative, composite, crude, counterintuitive and disproportionate. More importantly still, it explores the reasons why artists working during this turbulent period in the continent's history turned against beauty in order to express the meaning and vitality of their day-to-day lives.
The Baltimore Museum of Art
Mandin or Miniakna peoples (Mali or Guinea), early 20th century

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