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Photograph - Ancestral Figure, Gabun, Ogowe River, Bakota
  • Ancestral Figure, Gabun, Ogowe River, Bakota
    Evans, Walker, born 1903 - died 1975
  • Enlarge image

Ancestral Figure, Gabun, Ogowe River, Bakota

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    New York (made)

  • Date:

    c. 1935 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Evans, Walker, born 1903 - died 1975 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin-silver Print

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased by the V&A

  • Museum number:

    2321-1936

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 202, box V

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, held a show of African Sculpture in 1935, promoting sculpture from African countries in a fine art context. They hired the then young photographer and writer Walker Evans to record the objects on display. Most of his sets of 477 prints were destined to tour colleges for black students in the United States, but five were reserved for museums and universities, including the V&A. Evans used a plain background and straighforward lighting to stage each sculpture, resulting in clear and striking records of the artworks.

Physical description

Black and white photograph showing the front view of a figurative sculpture made of metals, against a plain background.

Place of Origin

New York (made)

Date

c. 1935 (made)

Artist/maker

Evans, Walker, born 1903 - died 1975 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin-silver Print

Marks and inscriptions

X.202 / NEW YORK: Museum of Modern Art. / Exhibition of African Negro Art, 1935. / [Photo. No. 328]
Label on mount

328 Ancestral figure (Catalog no. 379) / Gabun, OgoWe River. BaKota / Copper over wood. 22 1/2 inches high / Collection Mme. Helena Rubinstein, New York / See note on plate 325
Label on mount

Dimensions

Height: 22.1 cm image, Width: 14.7 cm image

Object history note

NB: The term "negro" was used historically to describe people of black (sub-Saharan) African heritage but, since the 1960s, has fallen from usage and, increasingly, is considered offensive. The term is repeated here in its original historical context.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, commissioned Walker Evans to photograph its African Negro Art exhibition of 1935. He produced 477 images and 17 sets of these images were printed, one of which the V&A bought for $50.
Used in display "V and A Africa: Exploring Hidden Histories"
15th November 2012- 3rd February 2013

Descriptive line

20thC Photograph of an Ancestral Figure, Gabun, Ogowe River, Bakota by Walker Evans, 1936

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kate Best and Sophie Leighton, 'Interwar Photography at the V&A: Modernism and More' in Apollo May 2006
AFRICAN NEGRO ART

Photographs by Walker Evans

List of Photographs

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1935
African Negro Art Edited by James Johnson Sweeney, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1935

Production Note

Reason For Production: Commission

Techniques

Gelatin silver process

Subjects depicted

Sculpture

Categories

Photographs

Production Type

Limited edition

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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