Kongo: Power and Majesty
'Kongo: Power and Majesty is one of two notable and highly readable books on African art this season...compelling' The New York Times Holiday Gift Guide 2015
Artists from the kingdom of Kongo -a vast swath of Central Africa that today encompasses the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola -were responsible for outstanding creative achievements. With the influx of Portuguese, Dutch, and Italian merchants, missionaries, and explorers, Kongo developed a unique artistic tradition that blended European iconography with powerful indigenous art forms. An initially positive engagement with Europe in the 15th century turned turbulent in the wake of later displacement, civil war, and the slave trade. Many of the artworks created in Kongo reflect the changing times.
This comprehensive study, published on the occasion of an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is the first major catalogue to explore Kongo's history, art forms, and cultural identity before, during, and after contact with Europe. Objects range from 15th-century "mother-and-child" figures, which reflect a time when Europeans and their Christian motifs were viewed favourably, to fearsome mangaaka, power figures that conveyed strength in the midst of the kingdom's dissolution. Lavishly illustrated with new photography and multiple views of three-dimensional works, this book presents the fascinatingly complex artistic legacy of one of Africa's most storied kingdoms.
The book won an honourable mention for the 2016 PROSE Awards in the Art Exhibitions category in Professional and Scholarly Publishing (PSP) Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP)
- Author: Alisa LaGamma is Ceil and Michael E. Pulitzer Curator in Charge, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Date published: September 2015
- Language: English
- ISBN: 978-1588395757
- Product Dimensions: 28.7 x 23.4 x 3.3 cm
'a rigorous and erudite exhibition looks at Kongo civilisation across five centuries, unwinding any ‘primitivist’ stereotypes that still attend African art' - Guardian
'splendid, thought provoking' - Wall Street Journal
'A stirring, shocking show that documents 500 years of west African culture' - The FT
'The exhibits and texts in this show combine to unfold an enthralling, epic tale, which spans more than four centuries, from the late fifteenth to the early twentieth, in the Central African regions that are now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, and Angola' - The New Yorker