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Discussion | African "Art" and the "Primitive"

November 15, 2013

Discussion | African "Art" and the "Primitive"


November 15, 2013

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  1. African  Art  and  the  “Primi0ve”     H.  Gene  Blocker,

     “Is  Primi0ve  Art   Art?”  pp.  87-­‐97.    
  2. Primi0ve?  Art?       What  cultural  baggage  to  the

     terms  “primi0ve”   and  “art”  have  in  art  historical  discourse?    What   values  are  assigned  to  objects  when  labeled   with  these  terms?  
  3. Vo0ve  statue  of  an  African  “Voodoo”  god   at  the

     Musee  d’Ethnographie  du  Trocadero   (now  the  Musee  du  Quai  Branly),  c.  1900.   Pablo  Picasso  in  his  Studio  with  works  of  African   and  Oceanic  Art,  Bateau-­‐Lavoir,  Paris,  1908.      
  4. “I  grasped  why  I   was  a  painter.  All  

    alone  in  that   museum,   surrounded  by   masks,  Red  Indian   dolls,  dummies   covered  with  dust.”    
  5. Pablo  Picasso,  Bull:  Stages  I-­‐VIII,  1945.     “Bison”  or

     Aurochs,  Altamira,  Spain,  12,500   BCE   “A]er  Altamira,  all  is  decadence.”  
  6. The  Problems  of  “Primi0ve  Art”   Blocker  isolates  some  problems

     in  mul0cultural  educa0on  through  a  discussion  of   “primi0ve  art.”    What  are  some  of  the  solu0ons  he  proposes  for  these  problems?     What  do  you  think  of  these  solu0ons?    Can  you  propose  any  of  your  own?   Problem  1,  Cross-­‐cultural  comparison:  “Whenever  group  A  uses  A’s   concepts  to  describe  group  B’s  ac0vi0es,  problems  of  meaning  arise.”  (89)   Problem  2,  The  “Special  Nature”  of  Primi0ve  Art:  “Primi0ve  art  becomes   art,  not  through  the  primi0ve  peoples  who  made  and  make  such  objects,   but  through  Europeans  who  buy  and  collect  it.”  (89)   Problem  3,  Evalua0on:  “cross-­‐cultural  descrip0ons  always  involve  the   ‘poli0cs’  of  commendatory  or  derogatory  comparisons.”  (95)   Problem  4,  Mul0culturalism:  “We  have  acted  as  though  the  only   significant  contribu0ons  to  art,  science,  law,  morality,  literature  have   come  from  Europeans  (and  mainly  dead,  male  Europeans),  thus  ignoring   the  cultural  contribu0ons  of  other  tradi0ons.”  (87).      
  7. How  does  Blocker’s  discussion  of  “primi0ve  art”   relate  to

     larger  problems  related  to  defining  art?