Les Fetiches

Lois Mailou Jones (United States)

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“Loïs Mailou Jones’s 1938 Les Fétiches departed dramatically from these earlier depictions of Africa and Africans. The Paris based African American painter has merged an African art ‘legacy’ with the surrealistic tendencies of l’art nègre, reinvigorating the African mask, sculpture and spirit and transforming them from objects of a French colonial fixation to expressive yet problematic components of a modern black identity. Like the poetry produced under the African and Caribbean literary movement known as Negritude, Les Fétiches emphasised Africa’s rhythmic and mythic dimensions (as pioneered in Lindsay’s ‘The Congo’) but also attributed a deeper meaning to the continent, a process of reclamation where artefacts, atmosphere and a heightened consciousness created a new sense of what it meant to be ‘African’ (or ‘black’) in the twentieth century.”

Richard J. Powell, ‘Re/Birth of a Nation’,
Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance

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