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The writer's thoughts are expressed as a critical counter-narrative which she interweaves into what has become the 'normalised' hegemonic discourse on artistic modernity and art history in the 'Global North/Western world'. Whilst I found certain descriptions of the ways white artists were influenced by the arts and cultures of the African continent and African heritage peoples worldwide (particularly in Europe and the USA) interesting, I was (for the most part) quite disappointed with the somewhat polarised and superficial analyses of issues relating to black artistic agency vs. white voyeurism and spectatorship. Any writer seeking to explore a topic as complex as 'Negrophilia' - and the associated racisms that led to the coining of particular bodies of artwork as "primitive" - should make clear whether they are seeking to uncover inherent contradictions in attempts to offer artistic appreciations of artworks created by a socially constructed 'community' of peoples (e.g. the African American art of the Harlem Renaissance) or whether they are seeking to uncover hidden and/or previously unknown aspects of art history that add new knowledge, or help to de-bunk prevailing mythologies. This book seeems to oscillate between these standpoints. I would have preferred this writer to concentrate on more complex intersections about how artistic movements - esp. in this case, Dadaism and surrealism - are (and have been) inspired by particular events, happenings, imaginations and experiences (nationally, internationally, globally and diasporically) - be they positive (as in the case of increasing levels of economic prosperity, technological change, etc.) or negative (as regards the impact of forced migrations, enslavements, wars and other social conflicts). For me, this book was only useful when the author sought to apply sociological perspectives relating to Gilroy's 'Black Atlantic' and issues of representation within the context of early 20th century artistic movements and aesthetics. However, the author didn't go far enough to truly ignite and expand these more pluralistic arguments and discourses about modernity, heritage, cultural 'authenticity', etc.
Review: NegrophiliaUser Review - Cahners Business Information.
Black culture was very much in vogue in avant-garde Paris in the 1920s as white artists celebrated it as a means of escaping bourgeois values. At the same time, an emphasis on the "primitive" often ... Read full review