Constructing African Art Histories for the Lagoons of Côte d'Ivoire  book cover
1st Edition

Constructing African Art Histories for the Lagoons of Côte d'Ivoire

ISBN 9781138249745
Published October 30, 2016 by Routledge
216 Pages

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Book Description

Constructing African Art Histories for the Lagoons of Côte d'Ivoire is an investigation of the methods employed by art historians who study creative production in Africa. While providing insights into the rich visual arts of the Lagoon Peoples of southeastern Côte d'Ivoire, this study is one of the few attempts by an Africanist to situate local and regional artistic practices in the context of the global art market, and to trace the varied receptions an African art work is given as it leaves a local context and enters an international one. Drawing on her three seasons of fieldwork among Akan populations in Côte d'Ivoire, Monica Blackmun Visonà provides a comprehensive account of a major art-producing region of Africa, and explores such topics as gender roles in performance, the role of sculpture in divination, and the interchange of arts and ideas across ethnic boundaries. The book also addresses issues inherent in research practices, such as connoisseurship and participant observation, and examines theoretical positions that have had an impact on the discipline of African art history.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Art history in the lagoons of Côte d'Ivoire; Encountering art in the lagoons: disciplinary approaches; Investigating lagoon art: research methodology; Art, religious belief and healing; Arts of leadership and arts of prestige; Age-set festivals as performance; Lagoon artists in a global context; Envoi: the role of the Africanist in the discipline of art history; Bibliography; Index.

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Monica Blackmun Visonà, an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky, teaches courses on African art, cross-cultural contexts for art, and art historical methods.


'Constructing African Art Histories for the Lagoons of Côte d’Ivoire is an important Lagoon corpus document and an exceptional guide for others to use in constructing art histories throughout Africa.' Patricia Coronel, Colorado State University, USA

'Visonà [...] shares her field research on Akan peoples of the Lagoon regions of Côte d'Ivoire; conducted in the 1980s, it remains relevant, valuable scholarship on African visual culture... valuable is Visonà's inclusion of advice to art historians of African art... Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.' Choice

'The book has great value as the first comprehensive study of the arts of the Lagoon peoples. It also stands out as an important review of the limitations of post-structuralist (postmodern) theory, at least in the context of studying the visual arts in Africa. The author’s manifest honesty, impeccable scholarship, and clarity of prose recommend it to scholars and students alike.' International Journal of African Historical Studies

'The subject is clearly presented, and [Visonà's] use of first person narrative, complete with numerous descriptions of her personal experiences in the field, keeps the subject interesting and compelling. The book is a welcome, readable addition to the scholarly literature on African Art.' Journal of Art Historiography

'... a useful text for teaching, and will appeal to collectors of Lagoon art. In terms of preparation for the field, a survey of the pre-existing work on Lagoon people, and the effects of colonization on the area, it is probable that Visonà’s work cannot be bettered.' Journal of African History