9 APRIL MASTERPIECES OF AFRICAN ART: THE BENIN BRONZES - LECTURER CLAIRE WALSH
Among the most important and valuable works of art from Africa, these antique bronze sculptures from the West- African kingdom of Benin astounded critics when they were first seen in Europe in the late 1890s. They could hardly believe that such technically accomplished sculptures were created by African artists. The superb workmanship and outstanding aesthetic quality of Benin’s royal sculptures rivals the very best work of the Italian Renaissance. This lecture reveals the sophisticated production processes, the symbolism and ritual use of the bronzes, as well as investigating the response of avant-garde artists of the early 20th century, such as Picasso and Matisse, who struggled to place them within their category of ‘the primitive’. One of the richest collections of the Benin bronzes is in the British Museum, but many examples are on show in museums across Britain and Europe.