Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Makonde Tree of Life: What is This?

The work pictured below arrived at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery when the office where it had been for years was renovated.  It's arrival coincided with a planned cases exhibition of work from our traditional African art collection featuring recent gifts and a number of works that had not been on view in several years.  The addition of the Makonde work provided a way to talk about a "Found in Collection" work of art, another facet of museum collections work. 

An almost life-sized image of this work and any new information we discover on the piece will be on view as part of Building Knowledge: Traditional African Art in the GW Permanent Collection through June 2016 in the 21st Street side cases on the first floor of the MPA Building.


What is this?

The mystery of “What is this?” is unusual but not unknown in the museum field. Objects and artifacts sometimes lose identifying information as they make their way from origin, through a life-span of use, and into a museum collection, over the course of decades or centuries. We are fortunate that many works of Western art bear signatures, dates, and even places of origin. But other times there is nothing beyond what we can see with our eyes. 

Luckily, through diligent research, we can connect the dots and re-write the story behind a work. There isn’t much we know about the piece itself, besides the information it came with, but we’ll be investigating all leads and will bring you updates every other week here and in the first floor cases in MPA as we find out more. 

Join us as we attempt to answer the question “What is this?”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

What DO we know?

  • This is a Makonde “Tree of Life.” 
  • The Makonde people are traditionally located in an area that stretches across the border between Mozambique and Tanzania. 
  • It came from an office on the Ashburn Campus, left behind when someone moved
What would we like to know?

  • What is a “Tree of Life?”
  • Who are all of these figures and what is the meaning of the work?
  • Who owned this?
  • How did it get from Africa to Ashburn?
  • Can we trace this back to a specific person?

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Covering exhibits at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery and giving you a peek into the Permanent Collection of the George Washington University.

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Howard Hodgkin: Paintings - May 16, 2012

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Makonde Tree of Life: What is This?

The work pictured below arrived at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery when the office where it had been for years was renovated.  It's arrival coincided with a planned cases exhibition of work from our traditional African art collection featuring recent gifts and a number of works that had not been on view in several years.  The addition of the Makonde work provided a way to talk about a "Found in Collection" work of art, another facet of museum collections work. 

An almost life-sized image of this work and any new information we discover on the piece will be on view as part of Building Knowledge: Traditional African Art in the GW Permanent Collection through June 2016 in the 21st Street side cases on the first floor of the MPA Building.


What is this?

The mystery of “What is this?” is unusual but not unknown in the museum field. Objects and artifacts sometimes lose identifying information as they make their way from origin, through a life-span of use, and into a museum collection, over the course of decades or centuries. We are fortunate that many works of Western art bear signatures, dates, and even places of origin. But other times there is nothing beyond what we can see with our eyes. 

Luckily, through diligent research, we can connect the dots and re-write the story behind a work. There isn’t much we know about the piece itself, besides the information it came with, but we’ll be investigating all leads and will bring you updates every other week here and in the first floor cases in MPA as we find out more. 

Join us as we attempt to answer the question “What is this?”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

What DO we know?

  • This is a Makonde “Tree of Life.” 
  • The Makonde people are traditionally located in an area that stretches across the border between Mozambique and Tanzania. 
  • It came from an office on the Ashburn Campus, left behind when someone moved
What would we like to know?

  • What is a “Tree of Life?”
  • Who are all of these figures and what is the meaning of the work?
  • Who owned this?
  • How did it get from Africa to Ashburn?
  • Can we trace this back to a specific person?

No comments:

Post a Comment

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About

Washington, District of Columbia, United States
"Found In Collection" or simply "FIC" is the way many museums classify the more mysterious items in their possession that have little or no documentation. Here at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery of the George Washington University, we do keep extensive records of our collection, but some of the items we come across in academic buildings or our own storage can leave us wondering. This blog is an effort to showcase some of the more curious examples and their stories, and to provide a glimpse of the great variety of art pieces within the collection. To learn more about the Brady Gallery's history, recent exhibitions, or the George Washington University, take a look at the links below.

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