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John Monroe
Iowa State University of Science and Technology (Ames, IA 50011-2000)
African Sculpture and the French Invention of Primitive Art

The book manuscript I propose to complete during the tenure of an NEH Fellowship is a history of the reception of African sculpture in France from 1900 until World War II. During this period, Paris was at the leading edge of a transformation in taste in which objects once dismissed as curios or ethnographic specimens came to be recognized as works of "primitive art." Wood sculptures from Africa touched off this process, and Paris played a crucial role in it, because it was both the West's cultural capital and the metropolis of an empire with vast African colonies. This book, which bridges the disciplines of history and art history, brings these two strands together in an innovative way, casting new light on the relation between aesthetic Modernism and colonialism. The published text will be of use not only to historians and art historians, but also to anyone interested in problems of culture-crossing and cultural appropriation in a colonial or post-colonial context.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Art History and Criticism; Cultural History; European History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2015 – 7/31/2016