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Africa and Picasso

From the Collection

August 20, 2009 – January 10, 2010
Igbo (Nigeria), Mask, 20th century. Wood. Collection of the Nasher Museum. Gift of Andrew Laska.

The Nasher Museum presented Africa and Picasso to complement the concurrent exhibition Picasso and the Allure of Language. The installation included five drawings and paintings from Picasso’s “African period” (1907-1909) and demonstrated his life-long fascination with the power of African art, particularly the transformative nature of masks.

Picasso began collecting African objects in 1907, and by the time of his death owned more than 100 African figures, masks and musical instruments. Our knowledge of his collection is based on a photograph his son Claude made of a storeroom full of African works in Picasso’s residence in Cannes, the Villa la Californie. Taken in 1974, one year after Picasso died, the photograph documents Picasso’s collection before it was dispersed to family members, donated to the Musée Picasso or sold on the art market. Africa and Picasso used African objects from the Nasher Museum’s holdings of similar type and origin as those recorded in the photograph to examine Picasso’s practice in collecting African art from multiple viewpoints―artistic, social and political. The exhibition was organized by Sarah Schroth, Nancy Hanks Senior Curator.

The exhibition was supported by the Department of African & African American Studies at Duke University.

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