Western attitudes to Africa have been influenced to an extraordinary degree by the arts and artefacts that were brought back by the early collectors, exhibited in museums, and celebrated by scholars and artists in the metropolitan centres. The contributors to this volume trace the life history of artefacts that were brought to Europe and America from Congo towards the end of the nineteenth century, and became the subjects of museum displays. They also present fascinating case studies of the pioneering collectors, including such major figures as Frobenius and Torday. They discuss the complex and sensitive issues involved in the business of 'collecting', and show how the collections and exhibitions influenced academic debates about the categories of art and artefact, and the notion of authenticity, and challenged conventional aesthetic values, as modern Western artists began to draw on African models.
'The Scramble for Art in Central Africa makes a major contribution to deepening our understanding of Central Africa through deepening our understanding of how our view of it has been constructed. Prospective readers should be further encouraged by the fact that the prose is clear and accessible throughout and the production excellent, with well-chosen illustrations.' Times Literary Supplement 'The essays in this book provide us with a quite excellent introduction to the ways in which the art - or the craft - of 'others' was comprehended over time by western artists and scholars.' History Today '... a volume which will certainly sit in many libraries amongst the essential reads of the history of collecting in all its applications.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute