Spirits Speak presents a selection of the most important African masks found in major museums and renowned private collections around the globe: an overview such as has never been compiled in this way before. Artistic mastery, charisma, age and authenticity were paramount selection criteria with only the very best examples representing each well-known mask type. An introductory essay elucidates the conceptual intricacies and varying functions of the masks and sweeps away deep-rooted misunderstandings. Enlightening commentaries offer background information about the function and origins of each mask's use within the ethnic groups from which they originate, and a foldout map places them in their original geographical context.
This beautiful book was born out of the passion and artistic insight of Marnix Neerman and Hugo Martens. One hundred and twenty-eight masks have been photographed in such a unique style that their artistic nature is revealed to the utmost. Each mask has
African Masks surveys 248 of the finest examples of masks from the Barbier-Mueller Collection, of which 100 are reproduced in stunning color illustrations. Leading scholars on African art describe the masks' historical and religious functions, and their symbolic significance.
This book counteracts the commonly accepted belief that the expressionless stereotypical human faces in prehistoric and ancient art are the result of a consciously chosen style. Brener introduces evidence from psychology, evolutionary biology and other disciplines that suggest that something more significant may be involved. Scientists have emphasized the innate, genetically based nature of our fascination with the human face and its almost limitless expressive capacity, all of which is represented in the art of the last six centuries. But little attention has been paid to the anomaly of the vacuous expressions of earlier facial representations. Brener attributes this change to a change in t...