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Cotopaxi Frederic Edwin Church
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Cotopaxi (76.89) — Frederic Edwin Church

Through African Eyes: The European in African Art, 1500 to Present

Sunday, April 18, 2010 – Sunday, August 08, 2010

  • For Everyone
  • Fees Apply

This exhibition explores the artistic consequences of the variations and dynamics of cultural exchanges between Africans and Europeans over 500 years, making it the broadest analytical overview on the subject to date. Through African Eyes will illustrate how African artists from diverse cultures have used and continue to use visual forms to reflect their particular societies' changing attitudes toward Europeans, as the latter evolved from stranger to colonizer to the more inclusive Westerner.

The exhibition features 100 of Africa's finest three-dimensional artworks and utilitarian objects executed in wood, ivory, metals, and textiles in diverse materials from the holdings of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) and other leading American and international museums and private collections. The DIA is the opening venue.

Through African Eyes will offer broad insights into various strategies that diverse African cultures have employed to engage the European outsider. In particular, it will explore Africans' delicate balancing of assimilation and confrontation of European culture when stimulated by shifts in the relationship. Moreover, the exhibition will show that dynamic cultural exchanges that occurred not only produced new African art forms but also stimulated new social values and modes of governance.

Through African Eyes rests on the premise that African perceptions of the European over time were neither monolithic nor static. It recognizes that many African societies alternately incorporated, rejected, and transformed elements of European cultures. By examining evolving trends in African use of European objects in particular cultures, the exhibition addresses the complexity of African responses to the European presence, presenting exciting new interpretations of this cultural dialogue.

By contextualizing African works that imitate, distort, criticize, or poke fun at the white "other," Through African Eyes will raise compelling questions: for instance, when is parody humor, and when is it a form of resistance against Western domination? The exhibition casts the European as the cultural "other" and this reversal of the usual Eurocentric perspective suggests the exhibition will be sobering and thought-provoking. African voices will permeate the exhibition and its interpretive strategies to insure that its intellectual conclusions are reinforced by opinions expressed by Africans.

A 200-page exhibition catalogue will include essays by recognized experts and numerous color and black-and-white illustrations that will expand on the ideas conveyed by the exhibition.


Tickets
Adults: $12                  
Adult Groups (15+): $10
Youth (ages 6-17): $6   
DIA Members: FREE

Price includes museum admission and a multimedia tour. Purchase at the DIA Box Office, at dia.org, or by calling 1.866.DIA.TIXS (1.866.342.8497). A $3.50 handling charge applies to all nonmember tickets, except those sold at the DIA. Advanced purchase of timed tickets recommended. Final admission into the exhibition is one hour prior to closing.

Fridays only: Exhibition is free with museum admission. No advanced tickets available except for groups of 15 or more.

Click here for tickets.
 
 

Photo Gallery

Click on the thumbnails below to view larger versions of the photos.

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The Detroit Institute of Arts wishes to thank the following individuals for contributing invaluable advice and expertise to this exhibition’s implementation:

Barbara Blackmun
Henry Drewal
Christraud Geary
Simon Gikandi
Veronica Jenke
Michael Kan
Babatunde Lawal
Daphne Ntiri
George Ntiri
Mangedwa Nyathi
Alex Okoreafor


 

This exhibition has been organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Generous support has been provided by the Friends of African and African American Art, the DTE Energy Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support has been provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the City of Detroit.

Friends of African and African American ArtDTE Energy Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities National Endowment for the Arts

Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Image Caption:Kongo culture, Democratic Republic of Congo; Memorial Figure in Frock Coat (ntadi), 19th century; carved steatite (soapstone), polychromed. Detroit Institute of Arts. Gift of Frederick K. Stearns (90.1S14462)