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Modern African Art : A Basic Reading List


Western Africa : Bénin

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Benin/Benin tussen gisteren/morgen: Calixte Dakpogan, Théodore Dakpogan, Amidou, Kifouli & Lassi Dossou, Romuald Hazoumé, Cyprien Tokoudagba, Zinsou; [exhibition, Van Reekum Museum, Apeldoorn, Netherlands, 1998]. Apeldoorn: Van Reekum Museum, 1998. 31pp. illus. (pt. color). N7399.D3B46 1998X AFA. OCLC 41361359.

Eight artists from Bénin are featured in this 1998 exhibition in the Netherlands. All are either self-taught or apprenticed rather than formally trained. Récuperation is the hallmark of the brothers Dakpogan - - Calixte and Théodore - - who use recycled scrap metal to create imaginative sculptures. The three Dossou brothers - - Amidou, Kifouli and Lassi - - are Gelede mask makers. Their contemporary Gelede masks stand out in bold, bright painted colors. Cyprien Tokoudagba is well known as the Abomey Vodun shrine painter, and Zinsou is an Abomey self-taught painter and muralist. Romuald Hazoumé of Porto-Novo is a récuperation artist and a painter whose work has been exhibited widely.

Harmattan 2005: art contemporain au Bénin. Cotonou, République du Bénin: Centre Culturel Français, 2005. 70pp. illus. (color). N7399.D3H37 2005 AFA. OCLC 122552532.

Benin, like smaller countries in Africa, has a handful of internationally known artists but a surprising number of talented younger artists awaiting recognition. Much credit is due to the Centre Culturel Français in Benin (and its counterparts elsewhere in Africa) for stepping in to showcase art on the ground. Twenty-four mainly unknown artists feature in this 2005 exhibition in Cotonou. Introductory essay by art history Romuald Tchibozo sets the scene.

L’Harmattan 2000: art contemporain au Bénin / coordination: André-Jean Jolly, Raymond Lanfranchi. Cotonou: Centre Culturel Français, 2000. 59pp. illus. (color), portraits. English translation in pocket. OCLC 55626483. N7399.D3H37 2000 AFA.

Fourteen Bénin artists, most in their 30s, largely self-taught, are featured in the first Harmattan exhibition in Cotonou in 2000. A commonality in their work is recuperation, as the French say, creating art from found objects and materials. All are male, except for the painter Ediwge Akplogan, a lawyer-turned-artist. The others are Félix Agossa, Simplice Ahouanssou, Cyr Akanni, Anthony Akakpo, Eric Akohou, Charly D’Almeida, Aston, Simonet Biokou, Virgil Nassara, Gérard Quenum, Tchif, and Dominique Zinkpè. For each artist, brief biodata is provided along with a portrait and a few examples of the artist’s work.