At the Neuberger: African Sculpture

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Art in Cameroon: Sculptural Dialogues at the Neuberger Museum at Purchase College offers sculpture with a storyline about the African nation of Cameroon.

Marie-Thérèse Brincard, the curator of the exhibition, has chosen to present a wide diversity of African culture; for example,  iconic sculptures from the Bangwa Fontem Kingdom, Kedjom-Kitingu Kingdom (also known as the Babanki Tungo Kingdom)  in the Cameroon Grassfields of Africa.

The Neuberger exhibition demonstrates how the sculpture interconnects.  Works include small figurines, bowls and stools, masks, tusks, beaded calabashes, and pipes, clearly illustrating the interacting influences among the different regions in Cameroon.

What is  popular in Cameroonian art is the representation of the “human icon”.   Hats, calabashes, among others, are symbols of power and dignity in Cameroonian villages.

Portuguese explorers inhabited the country in the fifteenth century. These explorers named the river Rio dos Camaroes which means “River of Prawns” after finding a variety of crayfish. Cameroon is rich with cultural dissimilarities, along with religious, ethnic, and political disparity. The multifaceted country was a German colony until 1916; however, its strong roots and its assortment of cultures remain vibrant between its two present rulers- Britain and France. The grassfields area of Cameroon is alluring because of its diversity due to its multiple kingdoms and chiefdoms that range in population.

The sculptures actually come from Germany.  These sculptures were brought to Germany when Cameroon was a German colony. When German rule came to an abrupt end after World War I,  interest in Cameroonian culture deteriorated.

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