LACMA Inaugurates Permanent African Art Gallery with Exhibition

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The exhibition is called Shaping Power: Luba Masterworks from the Royal Museum for Central Africa and it’ll be on display starting on July 7 until Jan. 5, 2014 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Shaping Power is the first exhibition to inaugurate LACMA’s new African art gallery and related educational programming. Shaping Power explores the artistic traditions and emblems of power from the Luba Kingdom, one of the most influential in Central African history.

Coorganized with the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) in Belgium, a selection of rare and outstanding sculptures from the Luba people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are on view. Objects include figurative thrones, elegant scepters, royal cups, intricately carved headrests, and ancestral figures, rarely seen in the United States and on view for the first time in L.A.

According to a prepared statement, the exhibition is curated by Dr. Mary (Polly) Nooter Roberts, Consulting Curator for African Art, LACMA, and Professor of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA, in collaboration with co-curator, Dr. Anne-Marie Bouttiaux, Head of the Ethnography Division, RMCA. In December 2011, Dr. Roberts was appointed to launch a program and establish a dedicated gallery for the arts of Africa at LACMA.

“As a museum of all cultures and all eras, I am proud to see a permanent space for the display of African art at LACMA,” said Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director, via the prepared statement. Since coming to LACMA last year, Polly Roberts has done an extraordinary job in building a foundation for our African art program. This is a new phase in a bold and important initiative for our collection.”

Dr. Polly Roberts also commented on the exhibition.

“It is an honor to assist LACMA in the creation of a permanent and prominent presence for the arts of Africa at the museum,” said Roberts. “I am delighted to open LACMA’s new African gallery with Luba arts, which have been the focus of my scholarly research and curatorial work for over twenty years.”

“Not only do these works represent the virtuosity of Central African artists, but they offer insight into a rich and complex African culture. Shaping Power presents exciting opportunities to teach about African history, while bringing greater visibility to African arts in Southern California. The elegance and cultural significance of these classical works demonstrates LACMA’s commitment to a program of aesthetic and intellectual magnitude to celebrate Africa’s great artistic legacies.”

Marvin Vasquez is a Senior Staff Reporter for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle, entertainment and sports. Follow him on Twitter: @geo_la
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