"Up to the late 1980's, almost nobody in the West knew, or wanted to know, about modern and contemporary art from Africa, meaning art that wasn't ''tribal'', that was maybe conversant with Western trends and styles. Then came an exhibition titled ''Magicians of the Earth,'' in Paris in 1989*, which mixed young African artists with some of their hip Western and Asian counterparts. Whatever its shortcomings, the show put contemporary African work on the postmodern map and opened a dialogue."
"From the Ferment of Liberation Comes a Revolution in African Art" By HOLLAND COTTER - sobre a exp. the short century, PS1, NY - NYT, February 17, 2002 http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/17/arts/design/17COTT.html
"For many European tastemakers of the colonial period, there was only one kind of African art: traditional art, also known as tribal, also known as primitive. Each tribe or ethnic group, the idea was, had a unique, homogeneous style. This style was passed on by anonymous artist-craftsman from time immemorial, untainted by outside styles, including Western contact. Only objects that met these criteria were Authentic." - idem
"The high optimism of Africa's liberation moment (a década de 60) ended fast. In the years that followed, the continent has been shaken by political violence, natural disaster and epidemic disease. Given these conditions, along with an absence of exhibition and patronage networks, many contemporary artists, like their modern predecessors, have chosen to live elsewhere. Many of them express no interest in exploring African ethnic identity through art. " - idem
"It is important to note that many of the world's great art movements came into being during this kind of deep-rooted crisis. The examples are numerous: the Nubian conquest of the northern Nile as an element of change in Akhenaten's Egypt; the implications of the pilgrimage (and related violent crusade) movement in Medieval Europe on the development of architecture and other arts; the fall of Constantinople as a key component in the rise of the Italian Renaissance; the expansion of Islam as a catalyst for the emergence of striking architectural monuments at Djenne and elsewhere; the importance of the Portuguese to the great era of Benin artistic florescence; French and Belgian colonial wars in Africa as a factor in Picasso's artistic revolution; the rise and fall of Hitler and the emergence of the New York School."
Suzanne Preston Blier, "Nine contradictions in the new golden age of African art - First Word", African Arts, Autumn, 2002 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0438/is_3_35/ai_98171008/?tag=content;col1
(...) "4. The Market. Although promoted by some Western entrepreneurs as exotic "outsider artists" whose visionary or spiritual sources come exclusively from within (like magic), most of the contemporary artists on view arrived at these new forms through modern art schools, local experiences with commercial advertising, or other important interactions with the West. In addition, many of these artists' oeuvres are held and tightly controlled by their Euro-American promoters and dealers--in Paris, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. Venue, price, mode of representation, and frequently content are herein brokered. To some degree there is a colonial legacy in this situation, with French- and English-speaking entrepreneurs espousing competing artistic agendas. While in some ways they are no different from patrons of art in other areas historically, today, when art passes far more as commodity, the disequilibrium between the artist's power and that of the dealer or patron carries concerns. As with music, present and future royalties are a vital question. To see this solely as an issue of the colonial legacy however, is simplistic, for a highly talented group of African curators and critics in the West also currently exercise sizable control of aesthetic agendas and the discourses which shape the material they advocate.
5. Exhibitions. The new globalized, heavily publicized arena of biennials has brought contemporary African art to the foreground in blockbuster shows such as the 1997 Johannesburg Biennale. They are curated largely by outsiders (though they might be African), with international funding and other support, sometimes leaving few possibilities for local artistic engagement. Indeed, artists living in these areas on occasion have been excluded, particularly if their work lies outside the parameters of the sometimes rigid postmodern visual rubrics being promoted. In other contexts, national boundaries still retain a heavy pull, with the exhibited artists being largely local or regional. In short, a lot of contemporary art just doesn't get shown, or doesn't get shown together." - idem
A atenção aos artistas africanos como fenómeno de larga escala é muito recente: desde 1989, para quem já cá andava, desde 50, 60. A exp. do MoMA, Primitivist in Modern Art foi em 1984.
Mas foi na década de 60, ao tempo das independências e mesmo onde elas foram adiadas, que aparecem os primeiros artistas modernos africanos que não são apenas artistas escolarizados no Ocidente e, assim, modernos pela via da obrigada apropriação escolar do modernismo ocidental (em especial da possível apropriação do primitivismo pelas primeiras vanguardas, usando-o em segunda mão, retraduzido da linguagem "colonial").
As vicissitudes da década e a distância entre os mercados nacionais e os mercados do(s) centro(s), as metrólopes, antes do actual mercado global mantiveram muito poucas, ou nenhumas, notoriedades internacionais vindas desse tempo. Em termos de globalização, é uma falsa partida, como se nota pela ausência de representação nos museus ocidentais.
É com o mercado global dos anos 90 que a grande circulação africana começa, como reciclagem/reedição das fotografias dos 60, como integração dos artistas descendentes de africanos nas antigas metrópoles coloniais, e como cooptação de alguns poucos residentes em África - susceptíveis de cumprirem carreiras mais "internacionais" do que nacionais.