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Hardcover, plain boards with illustrated DJ, 12.5" x 8.5", 303 pages, 262 African art objects in color, Bibliography. 1 general map of Africa showing locations of ethnic groups and cultures. By Ezio Bassani. Published by Skira, 2012.
Probably the best description of this book's ambition comes from the introduction : "The aims of this book are to present traditional African sculpture at the highest possible level and provide a precise and straightfoward exposition of the author's (Ezio Bassani's) knowledge of the different historical, formal, symbolic, and functional characteristics.......The adjective "traditional" defines works created explictly not for the art market, but in response to the religious, political, and also aesthetic needs of African societies of the past." I think that in this context, the book does very well.
The book features a really nice section on "Commissioned Art : Afro-Portugese Ivories", and many quality African tribal art figures, masks, vessels, stools, plaques, reliquary figures, equestrian figures, bowls, headdresses, power figures, doors, Benin bronzes, terracota busts and a couple of sublime Sakalawa burial monuments from Madagascar.
A nicely presented, superior quality publication with excellent photographs and an informative, readable text.
The photographs and essays are excellent. However, I have never seen such a sophisticated and rich book without an index. This makes it hard to look at related works throughout the book. I think the description also mentions a glossary: I can't find it. It is a valuable reference overall.
This a book with great illustrations and informative text. But it is focused in the more representational and 'refined' African art and neglects the more abstracted and formally inventive forms, and the more magical 'fetish' aspects. So it is rather partial and inadequately presents what is for many the most interesting, and the most influential aspect for 20th century European art. Large images of dull pieces take up too much space.