Title: Long in Exile, the Looted Benin Bronzes Tell the Story of a Mighty African Kingdom
Author: Benjamin Sutton
Media Outlet: Artsy
Publish Date: February 21, 2019
“(…) At the time, the Benin bronzes were unlike any African artworks and artifacts that Europeans were familiar with—such as elaborate Yoruba headdresses, tunics, and other regalia—both aesthetically and as records of a powerful and advanced kingdom. Because they were made through elaborate processes and from rich materials, and because they depict a vibrant cultural life in a refined, naturalistic aesthetic tradition, the Benin bronzes fully met “the European definition of what art is,” Gunsch said. “That really changed the way people responded to them in the market. A lot of other African art objects had a longer road to being recognized as art.
The British auctions sparked a fever for Benin bronzes, and museums in the U.K., Germany, and Austria, in particular, sought them out, as did art dealers. (…) Other Benin works, including some of those in U.S. museums, come from the 1970s, when the collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum in England was sold off.”