One of the possible drawbacks of modernist art, depending on one's perspective, is that it borrowed heavily from West African influences in sculpture but took little interest in the cultures from which the artifacts were derived.
In Paris, West African masks and sculptures were sought after as early as 1906 but became particular objects of interest during the period between the wars, collected by the American expatriate writer Gertrude Stein and the gallery owner Paul Guillaume. African art also had a substantial influence on the development of Cubism, particularly as it was envisioned by Pablo Picasso.
Many European critics at the time, particularly French critics, believed that European culture could rejuvenate itself through a superficial exploration of African art and cultures. I write "superficial" because Europeans expressed little interest in learning about African cultures as they actually were; instead, they superimposed their own ideas about the region and its peoples, which...
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