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  • Writer's pictureRichard Hunt

1987, African Art

This collection of material from Africa [exhibited in Life in the Form: African Art from the Collection of Richard Hunt, NIU Art Gallery, Northern Illinois University, Chicago, May 1–30, 1987] began to be developed some 15 or so years ago, not as a collection, but as an accumulation of some things, which to me had great visual impact. The complex variety and vitality of the forms I began to surround and involve myself with led me to some interesting discoveries and decisions on further acquisitions of material from Africa.

Works in metal, especially works in iron, my own favorite medium, led me to concentrate on pieces produced by blacksmiths from several areas, and also to look into the history of iron in Sub-Saharan Africa. Another area of great interest are works for use in everyday life. Tools utensils, textiles, furniture—are the expressions of art in life, in areas where art outside of life, as lived, is not known. Thinking about this fascinates me.


A further fascination with theme and variation accounts for the concentrations in the collection—staffs, blades, stools, etc. The variations are endless, but the collection has hovered around 500 pieces for some time.


Whatever else may be said about the works shown here, they are an artist’s collection and their value to the artist lies in what they provoke and stimulate in the artist. Visual stimulation, insights into habit and ritual, historical connections, and discussions have come to me from these works.

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