Diverse in appearance, material, and purpose, LACMA’s African artworks include body adornments, wooden masks with appliqués, small figures of wood and ivory, bronzes, beaded crowns, and stools. Exemplary beadworks and metalworks include bands of imported beads made by Ndebele women used to signify marital status, divination objects such as a Yoruba Ifa tray, a bronze plaque depicting a seventeenth-century official of the Benin Kingdom, and ritual figures used by Namchi women to encourage pregnancy.
Nigeria, Yoruba peoples
The collection of African textiles, from the late-nineteenth/early-twentieth century Kuba culture of the Democratic Republic of Congo, feature unique geometric forms and rhythmic patterns, and were created collaboratively by both Kuba men and women. Within the culture these textiles were of the utmost prestige—traded as currency, given to kings as tribute, and used in ceremonial garb. Curator Sharon Takeda discusses these textiles with LACMA Director, Michael Govan.
There is no doubt that geometrical solutions have been a kind of “language” that has aided our complex social interaction from the very beginning. Although for each culture its origins, meanings, and evolutional usage would vary profoundly, its pervasive presence seems to suggest a deep and abiding function that mere words fail to provide. Thus we are people of “signs”—perhaps no better illustrated than by the current installation of textiles by the African Kuba people on view now...
...There are two paintings in the museum by Veronese. Two big paintings of saints. Those two pictures struck me as the most magnificent things I had ever seen. I grew up looking at a lot of comic books. The figures in those were like super heroes! It was the color, the tone, the drawing. The size. They were extraordinary. They were beyond. I also saw one of the most powerful things I had ever encountered...