Benin art controversy

Shock Factor: Controversial art throughout history

On reading the tablet, Smith "jumped up and rushed about the room in a great state of excitement, and, to the astonishment of those present, began to undress himself".

It was, after all, a punitive expedition. The deciphering of ancient scripts changed for ever the way Europeans were able to imagine the story of humanity, destroying centuries of received authority about the past with repercussions as important for our understanding of time and history as the geological studies of the same period.

To ensure that the collection would be held for the benefit of citizens, and not the purposes of the crown, Parliament hit upon a solution of extraordinary ingenuity and brilliance.

At the end of the flood he sent a dove and a swallow out and they came back because they could not find dry land. A collection like that held in trust for the world by the British Museum is surely a powerful weapon in a conflict that may yet be mortal, unless we find means to free minds as well as bodies from oppression.

The Victorians were decent people, moral people. Nine hundred of these plaques were found in a storehouse, having been removed during redecoration of the palace.

What are the Benin Bronzes?

Modernism was born partly out of the encounter at the end of the 19th century between Europe and Africa. But the key difference is surely that Diderot was put in prison and the Encyclopedia banned, whereas the British Museum was created by parliament specifically to promote intellectual inquiry, and to encourage the discovery of new kinds of truth.

He reckoned without the hysteria of late-Victorian empire-building.

Benin Bronzes

And so the classic art of Benin was brought to London to be sold to provide compensation for the families of the British victims. Every roof is decorated with a small turret ending in a point, on which birds are standing, birds cast in copper with outspread wings.

It was one of the first institutions to be called British, and it's worth asking the question: It is also, I believe, an object that achieves one of the fundamental purposes for which the British Museum was set up by Parliament inand for which it still exists today: Considered a provocateur, Quinn is know for his unsettling sculptures that considerably challenge the viewer.

To this day, these questions remain very much at issue.

The whole world in our hands

Subsequent sales[ edit ] The two largest collections of Benin Bronzes are located in the Ethnological Museum of Berlin and in the British Museum in London, while the third largest collection is located in several museums in Nigeria principally the Nigerian National Museum in Lagos.

Study of the different societies and religions of the world would, it was hoped, generate tolerance and understanding. And it was not just Egypt.

Benin Bronzes

The British officers were killed. Though it is debated whether the contents are shit or actually plaster opening the can would destroy the value of the work it is undeniably a provocative artwork; Manzoi offered the work for sale at the then-current price of gold equating excrement with gold.

Frobenius could not believe that the 12th- to 15th-century brass heads of Ife, which are earlier than the art of Benin, were of African origin; he speculated that they were the work of ancient Greeks from the lost city of Atlantis. I don't know where else a visitor can apprehend Africa in so many contexts.

But many were taken back to Britain officially as "reparations". The name itself speaks to a rebellious vigilante nature that would most likely upset the general order of things. Moor now had a casus belli for the annexation of another bit of Africa. The ongoing dispute about the ownership and location of Benin art remains a controversy over whether it should be returned to its place of origin.

It is vital to observe the “encounter” between (Woods,‘THE ART OF BENIN’, p.7). The ongoing dispute about the ownership and location of Benin art remains a controversy over whether it should be returned to its place of origin.

It is. The art of Benin is elegant, fiery - and mostly locked in the British Museum. Jonathan Jones begins a new series on the legacy of empire.

Spoils of war

Controversy over ownership of its treasures obscures the British Museum's purpose. By offering everyone insights into cultural history, argues its director Neil MacGregor, the museum promotes a.

Art is often controversial, rousing emotions and feelings of discomfort that can sometimes lead to conflict. The following pieces of art, made in or about Africa, challenged authority, religious traditions, or were seen to glorify controversial periods of history.

Benin art is the art from the Kingdom of Benin or Edo Empire (–), a pre-colonial African state located in what is now known as the South-South region of .

Benin art controversy
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Benin Bronzes - Wikipedia