The role of the workshop in the creation of African art is the subject of this revelatory book. In the group setting of the workshop, innovation and imitation collide, artists share ideas and techniques, and creative expression flourishes. African Art and Agency in the Workshop examines the variety of workshops, from those which are politically driven or tourist oriented, to those based on historical patronage or allied to current artistic trends. Fifteen lively essays explore the impact of the workshop on the production of artists such as Zimbabwean stone sculptors, master potters from Cameroon, wood carvers from Nigeria, and others from across the continent.
About the authors
Sidney Littlefield Kasfir is Professor Emerita of Art History at Emory University. She is author of African Art and the Colonial Encounter (IUP, 2007).
Till Förster is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Basel.
African Art and Agency in the Workshop is a major contribution to African art history. It ushers in new canonical knowledge and a vital, wide-ranging discussion of the history of workshops within a thoughtful analytical frame.
Anthropology of Work
[These] essays are augmented with data from fieldwork done by the editors in Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, and Tanzania. To make the volume as formidable as it stands, chapters have been added by the coeditors' intellectual colleagues who have conducted fieldwork in the above-named countries, as well as in Uganda, Mozambique, Zambia, and South Africa. Spring 2014
This is a very good book, and however involved the process of putting it together has been, the end result should inform students of African art history for some time to come.
African Studies Bulletin
This interesting volume is highly recommended, especially for institutions that have collections covering artistic practice, African studies, postcolonial studies, and art history.
Anthropologists and aficionados alike will undoubtedly be stimulated by many of the ideas put forth in this work, which deal with all the most current contemporary issues in the fields of African anthropology and art history. And since the workshop theory is universal in scope, it deserves the attention it is given here and further investigations by others.
This worthy addition to Indiana University Press' African Expressive Cultures series contains a broad array of data derived from archival research and fieldwork, as well as artists' observations drawn from direct workshop participation.
International Journal of African Historical Studies
Taken as a whole, the case studies provide a wide window into the very diverse structural and functional characteristics of workshops. They also clearly describe how African workshops have served both contemporary political and cultural needs and have responded to patronage, whether it be traditional or stimulated by tourism. Equally important, some of the case studies demonstrate that diversity of forms can thrive within workshop organizations propelled by individual creativity and a desire to self-differentiate.
African Studies Review