The twentieth century has been a period of major disruption for traditional institutions in Africa. But even as old forms of art patronage were being suppressed, new avenues of artistic expression opened up. Postcolonial art in Africa has built seamlessly upon already existing structures in which precolonial and colonial genres of African art were made. It is in this sense, and in the habits and attitudes of artists towards making art, rather than in any adherence to a particular style, medium, technique, or thematic range, that the art is recognizably “African.” Sidney Littlefield Kasfir, Associate Professor of Art History at Emory University, has taught, curated, and carried out extensive field research in Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya, and has made briefer research trips to nine other African countries. Her critical history examines the major themes and accomplishments in African art from the past fifty years, achieving an impressive balance between the critical reexamination of frequently discussed artists, groups, and workshops and the introduction of less publicized or more recent material.
Sidney Littlefield Kasfir
Sidney Littlefield Kasfir is Associate Professor of Art History at Emory University in Atlanta and Curator of African Art at Michael C. Carlos Museum, also at Emory University. She studied Physics before embarking on Fine Arts at Harvard University and then managed the Nommo Gallery in Uganda. She completed her PhD on African Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and went on to do postdoctoral research at the University of Oxford. Since 1981 she has divided her time between teaching and curating in the USA and fieldwork in Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda. She was editor of the anthology West African Masks and Cultural Systems and is working on a study of the colonial and postcolonial transformation of Idoma and Samburu art. She has also written many articles and essays.