By Sidney Littlefield Kasfir, Till Förster
The position of the workshop within the production of African paintings is the topic of this revelatory ebook. within the crew environment of the workshop, innovation and imitation collide, artists proportion rules and strategies, and inventive expression thrives. African artwork and supplier within the Workshop examines the diversity of workshops, from these that are politically pushed or vacationer orientated, to these in line with old patronage or allied to present creative tendencies. Fifteen vigorous essays discover the impression of the workshop at the construction of artists equivalent to Zimbabwean stone sculptors, grasp potters from Cameroon, wooden carvers from Nigeria, and others from around the continent.
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Extra info for African Art and Agency in the Workshop
In the same vein, critics such as art historian Babatunde Lawal have questioned the cultural authenticity of work they produced, since the artists were under the influence of primitivist European teachers. These positions presuppose the gullibility of the workshop-trained artists; the cunning, imperialist ideas of their European teachers; and a skewed, unequal power relationship between the semiliterate African student and the European teacher. Put simply, they raise questions about the authenticity of the work produced by these artists and, related to this, the pedagogical relationship between the European workshop teachers and their African students.
A fairly well documented example is Osogbo. In long-term workshops, many changes occur over time and the process is not so simple. For example Frank McEwen maintained a firm hand over what constituted acceptable work in the Salisbury National Gallery workshop, but Joram Mariga was for many years cast into the role of master teacher once the workshop moved out of Salisbury. 3. See, for instance, the role of Lucas Cranach the Younger, who took over his workshop from his father and enlarged it in economic terms but soon developed an individual “handwriting” in his paintings.
McEwen’s presence illuminates what an ambivalent position a patron has in a workshop setting. On the one hand, it is through him that the artists acquire skills and a taste for a particular style and iconography. On the other hand, it is precisely this dominant position that constrains the artists and at times prevents them from developing a recognizable individual art that deviates from the workshop style. Many artists had and still have to cope with these two sides of patronage and domination in workshop settings, in Africa as elsewhere.