I continued my ongoing quest to visit every gallery in the Museum of Fine Arts by visiting the Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa wings. It’s unfortunate that the art of the two most populous continents and some diverse island cultures are all clumped together like that, especially since the MFA boasts having a large collection of Asian arts dating back to the earliest days of the museum. Nevertheless there was quite a delightful collection of works that had me hopping around geographically as well as through time. One gallery deliberately mixed contemporary and classical Japanese art in a provocative way.
I also took a 3 masterpieces in 30 minutes tour and got to learn about three family portraits from three different artistic styles – Sargent’s The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, a folk art portrait from the 1830s, and Steen’s Twelfth-Night Feast.
After these eight visits, I believe I’ve been to every permanent gallery in the museum. Of course, art on exhibit is changing all the time, so I’ll have to go back and do it again. Maybe next time I’ll have a theme like art with families or bridges or pets or something like that.
Around the World for a Good Book selection for: Cameroon
Author: Mongo Beti
Title: The Story of the Madman
Publication Info: Charlottesville : University Press of Virginia, c2001.
Summary/Review: A familiar story of post-colonial Africa where a newly independent nation suffers tyrannical and wasteful governments, the nation is divided by civil war, and the former colonial power lurks in the shadows looking to profit. Mongo Beti examines a fictional nation similar to Cameroon in this satirical tale. The heart of the story of Chief Zoaételeu the patriarch of a large tribal family who speaks his mind to readily before government soldiers and is arrested and put on display in a show trial. Other characters include his conniving favorite sons and a lawyer who often bursts out in Latin and considers himself a speaker of truth who like Cassandra can’t be believed. Since the characters serve a satirical purpose they often seem more like caricatures and it’s hard to develop a true sympathy to them. In fact, a lot of the time the satire seems laid on too thick to make this an illuminating or entertaining novel.
Recommended books: Beneath the Lion’s Gaze: A Novel by Maaza Mengiste and Snakepit by Moses Isegawa