African Art and the Modernist Lens

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Untitled (Aqua'ba Figure, Akan), 1933 © Courtesy of Museum of Anthropology at UBC
African Art and the Modernist Lens

6393 NW Marine Drive
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z2
October 30th, 2010 - January 23rd, 2011
Opening: October 22nd, 2010 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Wed - Mon: 10 am - 5 pm; Tues 10 am - 9 pm (Closed Mondays for the winter beginning Oct. 17th)


The Museum of Anthropology is pleased to announce Man Ray, African Art, and the Modernist Lens, a groundbreaking exhibition exploring the pivotal role of photography in changing the perception of African objects from artifacts to fine art.  Man Ray, African Art, and the Modernist Lens will be on view at MOA from October 29, 2010 through January 23, 2011.

Man Ray, African Art, and the Modernist Lens brings to light photographs of African objects by American artist Man Ray (1890-1976) produced over a period of almost twenty years. In addition to providing fresh insight into Man Ray’s photographic practice, the exhibition raises questions concerning the representation, reception, and perception of African art as mediated by the camera lens.

Featured are more than 50 photographs by Man Ray from the 1920s and 1930s alongside approximately 50 photographs by his international avant-garde contemporaries such as Charles Sheeler, Walker Evans, Alfred Stieglitz, and André Kertész. For the first time, a number of these photographs are presented alongside the original African objects they feature. The juxtaposition offers a rare opportunity to encounter first-hand how various photographic techniques of framing, lighting, camera angle, and cropping evoke radically different interpretations of these objects. Books, avant-garde journals, and popular magazines also on display illustrate how these photographs circulated and promoted ideas about African art and culture to an international audience.

Curated by Wendy Grossman, the exhibition frames the objects and images within diverse contexts, including the Harlem Renaissance, Surrealism, and the worlds of high fashion and popular culture.

Man Ray, African Art, and the Modernist Lens was curated by Wendy Grossman, Ph.D. and organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC. The exhibition was funded in part by grants from the Terra Foundation for American Art, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Dedalus Foundation. Media sponsor The Georgia Straight. Opening reception sponsored by Consulat General de France a Vancouver.