Negro Art*

Authors: Markov, Vladimir; Howard, Jeremy

Source: Art In Translation, 1 March 2009, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 77-117(41)


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This essay by Voldemaārs Matvejs, published in 1919, five years after the author’s death, is a pioneering investigation into the aesthetics of African works of art that he had seen in European collections. Inspired by the use of “primitive” sources by contemporary artists such as Picasso and Kandinsky, Matvejs categorizes African work according to aesthetic qualities. The contribution made by African art in terms of “the treasury of world beauty” is determined and defined here for the first time. Intended as an introductory text for a readership from diverse backgrounds, Matvejs’s article is an unprecedented assault on the hidebound and hierarchical conventions of the European art establishment.

Keywords: African art; Russia; avant-garde art; colonialism; masks; religion; ritual; sculpture; symbolism; tumuli

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2009

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