Special Topics: The Royal Arts of Benin
Cecile Fromont
Tuesday & Thursday
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
180 Tappan
3 Credit Lecture
The historical kingdom of Benin, in modern day Nigeria, is one of the best known kingdoms of the African continent thanks to European travelers' accounts, twentieth century oral history and the documentary evidence of the rich art forms produced along the centuries by the court artists of the Benin king, the Oba. This course investigates the royal arts of Benin and their inherently political overtone. Issues of the use of art as political strategy or embodiment of power have been at the center of the definition of Benin art throughout its tumultuous history, from the iconographic innovations performed by 17th and 18th century rulers to affirm their legitimacy, to the rapt of the royal treasure in the 1897 British "punitive expedition," and to the 2007-2008 blockbuster exhibition "Benin: Kings and rituals" - with venues in Vienna, Paris and Chicago - that renewed the dialogue between European former colonial powers, the Benin king and the Nigerian government. II. 4