The research project

African Art History and the Formation of a Modern Aesthetic

African Modernism in institutional art collections related to German collecting activities

Collecting / African / Modernisms are keywords of our current research project – a cooperation of Iwalewahaus, Makerere Art Gallery and Weltkulturen Museum.

This research project seeks to examine not only the singular collections of African Modernism that are housed today in museum and university collections but also to look at past, present and future connections between them. The three collections which will be examined are at the Iwalewahaus in Bayreuth, the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt a. M. and Makerere Art Gallery/Institute of Heritage Conservation and Restoration (IHCR) in Kampala (Uganda), which host particularly rich collections of African Modernism, comprising of mainly paintings, sculptures and graphic art from the early 1940s to the late 1980s, the regional focus of the German collections is on Nigeria and Uganda. With regard to the collections we argue that different narratives of African art history are embedded in the collections: that of the artists and that of the collectors or patrons. A broader scientific examination of these collections and their historical connections is needed, and this is the starting point of our research project. The single artworks as well as the composition of a given collection, the relationship of the collector to the local art-scene and artists can highlight one aspect of African art history and African Modernism.

This research project (2015-2018) is funded by the VolkswagenFoundation, runs for four years and includes a number of international senior and junior researchers.

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