African art: “there’s no Western egocentricity”

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Location: Clinton, Massachusetts

Gallery: of African art

While the art market powers on through the recession, a new contender enters the field: that of African art.

Gordon Lankton created the Museum of Russian Icons from his collection. Each of his four-times-a-year trips to Russia continue his education about and interest in icons. The African exhibit – which has just celebrated its beginnings – grew from an interest Lankton and his wife, have in western African art. The gallery is not from his personal collection, but from a collection he purchased from collector Steve Humble, who shares his interest in both African art and Russian Icons.

Humble said African art is directed at the senses, “drinking art right from the source… You are not looking at art, but seeing it.

“This is not primitive art, but primal art,” he said.

Humble said the high quality of the pieces bought by Lankton will get recognition from art lovers. “Be ready, Clinton, to be discovered for these are special times,” Humble said.

Mr. Lankton, who founded the Museum of Russian Icons at 203 Union St. five years ago, was contacted by Mr. Humble, who had heard about the museum and had an abiding interest in Russian Icons. In the course of several more calls and a visit to Kentucky by Mr. Lankton, they discovered they both also loved African art.

The collection, purchased for the most part from Mr. Humble, contains more than 220 African tribal masks, figures, sculptures and artifacts in stone, metal, wood, clay, bronze, and fabric. The items come from about 32 West African tribes, some of which are 300 to 400 years old. Mr. Humble described the collection as containing some of the best pieces in the world. They were obtained from hundreds of individual collections from cities such as Paris and Brussels, not directly from Africa, from the 1920s through the 1960s.
“They would not have survived otherwise, because of wars, weather, and termites,” he said.

“There are no names, so there’s no Western egocentricity about who made them,” he said.

The gallery is located at 62 High St., Clinton, accessible through Sunrise Boutique.

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