Thursday, April 3, 2014

Rockefeller African And Oceanic Art Collection At The Met

In addition to its outstanding permanent collection of African and Oceanic art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has mounted excellent smaller exhibits on these traditions (including those reviewed here in May 2011 and March 2013). The latest such exhibit, "The Nelson A. Rockefeller Vision: In Pursuit of the Best in the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas," demonstrates that the former New York governor and vice president was a passionate collector of, and advocate for, non-Western art. After realizing that the Met was originally uninterested in such art, Rockefeller founded the Museum of Indigenous Art in 1954, which later became the Museum of Primitive Art (he later disapproved of the condescending term "primitive"). Eventually, the museum was dissolved and its collection became part of the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, named after Rockefeller's son. Rockefeller amassed an eclectic and extensive collection (albeit, as ARTnews explains, "before cultural-property laws restricted the movement of art objects from their countries of origin") with work, as seen in the exhibit, from the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, Peru and other lands.

Above: Power Figure: Male (Nkisi), 19th–mid-20th century, Democratic Republic of the Congo,

“The Nelson A. Rockefeller Vision: In Pursuit of the Best in the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas” continues through October 5 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave. (at 82nd St.), NYC; (212) 535-7710, metmuseum.org.

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