by George L. Sturman
Africa speaks in the tribal art of middle Africa, from east to west, that is amassed in this collection. Through the creation of fetishes, masks, statues, and everyday implements, the picture of a way of life emerges. Its myths, spiritual, physical, emotional and traditional, reflect African life from beginning to end and the hereafter. Each object speaks for the people, individual, or culture it was created for. Handed down for rites and rituals from tribe to tribe, family to family, as the countries and the people develop from the old to the new, old traditions fade into obscurity.
But all is not lost. The past preserved in the tribal creation of its art objects. Many of these objects were removed from Africa in the early 19th century by the European invaders, and were brought back to museums. There they were rediscovered by European artists in the early 20th century as works of art, rather than in their intended role as objects in rites, rituals, and other ceremonious uses. The objects were looked at by these artists for line, form, and color. used by the 20th-century artistic vanguard to bolster a new era of painting and sculpture, African art now became sought after by serious art collectors. Artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Brancusi, Wifredo Lam, transposed African imagery into a new age in European art.
As the peoples of Africa have moved to other parts of the world, at first into slavery, their culture, uprooted, has inevitably changed in different surroundings. May they and all others see the old and enjoy the new. Let Africa speak to you, as it has to me.