Dazzling textile traditions have constituted an important form of aesthetic expression throughout Africa’s history and cultural landscape. Textiles have long been a focal point of the vast continental trading networks that carried material culture and technological innovations across regional centers and linked Africa to the outside world. Leading contemporary artists reflecting on Africa’s distinctive cultural heritage and its relationship to the world at large have drawn upon the imagery of textiles in sculpture, painting, photography, installation art, video, and other media.
This exhibition illustrates the stunningly diverse classical textile genres created by artists in West Africa through some of their earliest documented and finest works. Highlights of the Metropolitan’s own holdings will be presented along with some twenty works that entered The British Museum’s collection by the early twentieth century. Selected works will represent inventive variations on major themes of the influential classical genres. The exhibition will relate these genres to contemporary art forms by affording an appreciation of the cultural context and visual language of these traditions and exploring their synergy and resonance in works by eight living artists.
The publication The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design Without End produced by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press will accompany this exhibition.
The exhibition is made possible in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Fred and Rita Richman, and The Ceil & Michael E. Pulitzer Foundation, Inc.
It was organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in collaboration with the British Museum, London.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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New York, New York 10028-0198