France Commits to Returning 26 Looted Artifacts to Benin Republic by 2021 and More News

Friday, 20 December 2019


FRANCE COMMITS TO RETURNING 26 LOOTED ARTIFACTS TO BENIN REPUBLIC BY 2021. The artifacts—including a royal throne, sculptures of the kings of Abomey and a statue of the god Gou, which were looted after a bloody siege of the Béhanzin palaces by the French in 1892 and are now in the collection of the Musée du Quai Branly, will be returned “in the course of 2020, perhaps at the beginning of 2021,” the French culture minister told Benin’s president on December 16. [Artnet]

LUBUMBASHI BIENNIAL: MAKING ART FROM OBSTACLES. The sixth edition of the Biennale de Lubumbashi titled ‘Future Genealogies,’ showcased works by 42 artists from Congo and beyond, including contemporary artists like Ibrahim Mahama, Emeka Ogboh, and Kemang wa Lehulere. NYT’s Siddhartha Mitter looks at the resilient art event created by local artists in the remote outpost, the mineral-rich Katanga Province in Congo. [New York Times]

ZANELE MUHOLI IS ONE OF ARTSY’S 10 MOST IMPORTANT ARTISTS OF THE 2010s. This decade, the South African artist has exemplified the role of the photographer as a visual activist. Works by Muholi, who offers their own image as an indomitable black queer photographer during an explosive period of black creativity and the long-overdue rise of the black figure in art and photography, increasingly became ubiquitous after their landmark Brooklyn Museum show in 2015. [Artsy]

REVIEW OF ‘SUNMI SMART-COLE 43 YEARS.’ A retrospective of the 78 year old renowned photojournalist was at Terra Kulture from 1 to 14 December 2019. The Guardian’s Tajudeen Sowole looks at the exhibition displaying the life and work of one of the first celebrated photographers in Nigeria. [Guardian]


An untitled wax and pigment on wood by Moroccan artist Mahi Binebine is displayed at Dakar’s Museum of Black Civilizations. (Photo: A. Hammerschlag/VOA)

THE MUCH TALKED ABOUT PRÊTE-MOI TON RÊVE IS AT DAKAR’S MUSEUM OF BLACK CIVILISATIONS. The traveling exhibition of African contemporary art, which opened in Casablanca in June 2019, will visit seven cities including Abidjan, Lagos, and Cape Town. Prête-moi Ton Rêve (Lend Me Your Dream) showcases works by 30 artists from 15 African countries, artists who have not achieved the same recognition at home as they have abroad. “… the idea is to reconcile the market value of Africa, so that Africans can, in a way, share in their success.” says the secretary general of the Foundation for the Development of Contemporary African Culture. [The Guardian] [VOA]



The Art Movements of the 2010s: protests, the introduction of Instagram, and social revolution, including the growth of the market for African art internationally, shaped the art of this decade.

The unveiling of the Obama portraits is one of Artsy’s 10 Moments That Defined Art in the 2010s. Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of President Barack Obama and Amy Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama became a cultural phenomenon, but their influence extended into the art world: they signaled a renewed cultural interest in black artists.

On Tuesday Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accepted the Nobel Peace Prize primarily for setting the peace process with Eritrea in motion back in June 2018. For some Eritrean artists now living in Addis Ababa, peace has been a godsend.

Drawn Lines, an exhibition at Museum Africa, Johannesburg provides a retrospective of Judy Ann Seidman, who is best known for the 1982 anniversary poster of Solomon Mahlangu’s execution at the hands of the apartheid regime in 1979.

ArtNews’ 50 most promising, up-and-coming collections being built today around the world include Theo Danjuma (Nigeria) and Sindika Dokolo (Angola) collections.