Thoughts on Gikandi’s reading

The Gikandi reading was interesting as I for one have long regarded Picasso as the grandfather of modern art but now, I have my doubts. The first thing that came to my mind was the question of plagiarism. I mean, Picasso didn’t exactly credit the Africans for “borrowing” their pieces of cultural artifacts and instead, he as well as other scholars have shied away from acknowledging the African influence in the history of modernism. He defended himself by saying that Africa had a psychological effect on him but it was not a formal influence on modernism. But how does one differentiate a subconscious effect from a formal influence? I personally feel that there are many close similarities if not blatant imitations of African masks in Picasso’s work eg. the Grebo mask. As such, is Picasso guilty of plagiarism? If so, can he still be hailed as a great modern artist? I think that we as appreciators of art need to redefine our standards of what a great artist is. We are very much contributors to this cycle of exploitation if we fail to acknowledge the Africans’ art culture and their role in the history of modern art.
Also another question to ponder: are the Africans subalterns since the modernists have erased their existence from history? If so, can their voices ever be represented authentically using the English language given the many issues concerned with translation? Sorry this post has more questions than answers ☺

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Gikandi’s reading

  1. interesting Caroline… but if someone has problematic viewpoints, does it take away from the quality of their art?

  2. hmm… no i don’t think that the quality of the art piece will be affected per se but our interpretations of the piece will be very much mediated by our knowledge of the process that the artist has to go through to arrive at that point. Its like the Gikandi reading has given us a heads up to Picasso’s borrowing of African objects in his art work so we consciously look out for African elements and try to make meaning of it. And i think that this in some way affects our perception of what is good/bad art and whether we enjoy the museum experience or not.