Monday 12 September 2011

Tate Gallery starts fund to acquire African Art...what took them so long!

Had a quick wander around the Tate Modern galleries on the Southbank where I spotted this painting which is part of it's Level 3: Poetry and Dream display, and again it struck me how rare it is to see any image of a black person, let alone a female, within this nation's busiest gallery.

Agosta, the pigeon-chested Man, and Rasha, the Black
Dove. Oil on Canvas 1929. Painted by Christian Schad.
image may be copyrighted
Don't know much about the artist but read how the model was actually part of a funfair side show from that era, which basically means she was somehow seen as a oddity or figure of fun, someone to be looked at for entertainment. Ironically she is still part of a side show when you consider the lack of black peoples represented within the Tate galleries and it's collection. Apparently the collection has over 66,000 works of art by over 3,000 artists, of which only 100 works are by African artists!
Now leaving aside the vast array of traditional arts and crafts, stored away in various British museums and galleries, and the arguments of how they were obtained and classified as lesser art forms than European art and crafts; how the Tate Galleries have managed to ignore the huge source of contemporary African (and Caribbean) art and artists overseas, as well as those on it's own doorstep, is sad, predictable and 'lazy'.
However I have just read that a new fund in partnership with the Guarnty Trust Bank based in Nigeria, is to be established to develop links with artists from the African continent, and also appoint a curator for African art. As a result the Tate Modern is currently showing an exhibition 'Contested Terrains', featuring four artists working in Africa today, showing until 16th October. I missed it on my quick visit but will be back to see this rarity and maybe play one of my favourite games, spot more than ten black people in the Tate Modern!

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