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African Art in Motion

May 5 – September 22, 1974
Ground Floor, Central Gallery, West Central Lobby, Galleries G-8 through G-15, G-19, Space 11, Sales Area (12,000 sq. ft.)

Installation view of African Art and Motion, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Gallery Archives

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: 160 objects from 20 nations were selected from the collection of Katherine Coryton White of Los Angeles. They were primarily of wood but also of fiber, iron, bronze, and ivory. The exhibition was based on a concept of Robert Farris Thompson, associate professor of art history at Yale University, that African art can only be understood through a grasp of African dance and ritual and in the special language of body motion: implied, arrested, or expressed. The elaborate installation incorporated 5 audio-visual stations of continuous film, recordings, and videotape, showing works in use in dance or ceremony. Julie Nixon Eisenhower and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis toured the exhibition.

Organization: Organized and shown first at the University of California, Los Angeles Art Galleries, the exhibition was supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The installation was by Gaillard F. Ravenel, George Sexton, and James F. Silberman.

Attendance: 323,785

Catalog: African Art in Motion: Icon and Art in the Collection of Katherine Coryton White, by Robert Farris Thompson. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1974.
African Art and Motion: An Illustrated Guide to the Exhibition. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1974.

Brochure: African Art in Motion, illustrated folder funded by the Ahmanson Foundation, Los Angeles, California.

Other Venues: UCLA Art Galleries, Los Angeles, January 20–March 17, 1974