Arts of Africa
On View: Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Gallery, 5th Floor
Masquerade is a moment for play—a chance to invent and experiment, even within established social needs and existing mask genres. These two pairs of related works demonstrate artistic innovation in existing masquerade genres over time.
The two Bobo works share a basic form—a domed helmet with an extended vertical face, close-set eyes, and ridged horns—typical of Bobo mask style. The archaic features, weathered surface, and evidence of local repairs suggest that the nineteenth-century mask (far left) was a work of considerable local importance. It may represent an intellectual and visual predecessor of the twentieth-century version.
The Senufo kponyugu masks are both horizontal composite animal forms with long, projecting horns, a large, gaping mouth, and fearsome accoutrements such as sharp teeth and claws. Such details relate to Senufo cosmology, legends, and beliefs about the connections between certain animals and the ancestral and nature spirits that connect the living. The bright paint and overexaggerated features of the late twentieth-century version demonstrate how Senufo artists have updated this mask form over time.
Wood, pigment, fiber
early 20th cenutry
45 1/2 x 14 x 13 in. (115.6 x 35.6 x 33 cm) (show scale)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gustave Schindler
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Bobo. Bolo Mask, early 20th cenutry. Wood, pigment, fiber, 45 1/2 x 14 x 13 in. (115.6 x 35.6 x 33 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gustave Schindler, 58.184. Creative Commons-BY
overall, 58.184_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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Wood mask, features rather stylistically carved with protruding mouth and eyes, long straight nose, two horns on top of head. Entire front surface covered with fine geometric incised designs. Remains of pinkish substance on facial surface. Black fiber mantle sewn around bottom of mask.
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