Journal Article
Primitivism, humanism, and ambivalence: Cobra and Post-Cobra

First paragraph:

In a herringbone tweed jacket, carrying foldedĀ glasses and a copy of the day's London Times in his hands, Ernest Mancoba looks more like a gentleman than a modern painter (fig. 1). A South African living in Paris and a French citizen since 1961, he was visiting Denmark to work on a set of lithographs with Peter Johansen. His sidelong glance at Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti's bronze Spoon Woman of 1926-1927, a sculpture inspired by anthropomorphic carved wooden spoons made by the Dan and Wobe peoples of the Ivory Coast, speaks volumes. It was likely a passing glance during what must have been a pleasant visit to the Louisiana Museum to see the works of his friends (Mancoba once lived in a studio above Giacometti's in Montparnasse). Yet it seems to stand silently for a world of feelings: distrust, resentment, separateness, reluctant recognition, unacknowledged difference. This look embodies, for the contemporary observer, a subjectivity long silenced, forever spoken for by others in the name of civilization, too often defined by the dubious acclaim humanism, which primitivism helped define through of white primitivists who misrecognized aspects of his identity as a "radical" critique of Western reason.

Title
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsPezolet N, Kurczynski K
JournalRES: Anthropology and Aesthetics
Volume59-60
IssueSpring/Autumn
Pagination282-302
Abstract

First paragraph:

In a herringbone tweed jacket, carrying foldedĀ glasses and a copy of the day's London Times in his hands, Ernest Mancoba looks more like a gentleman than a modern painter (fig. 1). A South African living in Paris and a French citizen since 1961, he was visiting Denmark to work on a set of lithographs with Peter Johansen. His sidelong glance at Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti's bronze Spoon Woman of 1926-1927, a sculpture inspired by anthropomorphic carved wooden spoons made by the Dan and Wobe peoples of the Ivory Coast, speaks volumes. It was likely a passing glance during what must have been a pleasant visit to the Louisiana Museum to see the works of his friends (Mancoba once lived in a studio above Giacometti's in Montparnasse). Yet it seems to stand silently for a world of feelings: distrust, resentment, separateness, reluctant recognition, unacknowledged difference. This look embodies, for the contemporary observer, a subjectivity long silenced, forever spoken for by others in the name of civilization, too often defined by the dubious acclaim humanism, which primitivism helped define through of white primitivists who misrecognized aspects of his identity as a "radical" critique of Western reason.