Fowler in Focus: Radiance and Resilience: Arts of Africa and the Americas from the Goldenberg Collection

May 29–September 11, 2011

Radiance and Resilience offers a first chance to view highlights from the major bequest of 180 objects to the Fowler Museum by Barbara and Joseph Goldenberg. The selection was made to emphasize the qualities of radiance and resilience embodied in the arts as well as in the Goldenbergs themselves, long-standing patrons and friends of the Fowler Museum. Objects of splendor and beauty also possess the capacity to address the challenges of everyday life.

From Africa, the installation will include: striking power figures and initiation masks from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola; fascinating divination objects made by the Baule, Luba, and Yoruba peoples; a stately Fang reliquary guardian; and a stunning Yoruba beaded crown. In addition, a group of elaborately modeled pre-Columbian ceramic figurines from the Maya island of Jaina suggest the historical and geographical breadth of the Goldenbergs’ artistic interests.

EXHIBITION IN DEPTH

The Themes

The themes of radiance and resilience, qualities embodied by the objects in their collection as well as by the Goldenbergs themselves, have guided this initial selection.

Within the Goldenberg bequest, radiance is characteristic of many articles of status and prestige that reflect and amplify royal power and augment a person physically or metaphorically, including a stunning Yoruba beaded crown, intricately carved Kongo staffs, and a group of elaborately modeled pre-Columbian ceramic figurines from the Maya island of Jaina. Radiance also alludes to the charisma of the Goldenbergs and to their eye for beauty and refinement as dedicated art collectors.

Resilience is made manifest in objects used in healing, problem solving, and spiritual mediation aimed at sustaining wellness and encouraging fortitude in the face of adversity. Exhibited examples include striking power figures and initiation masks from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola that help to regulate the social order; a figure of a mother and child used by young women to sustain or restore fertility; and divination objects that assist communities and individuals in resolving specific difficulties. Resilience also aptly characterizes the Goldenbergs’ own inspiring responses to health challenges and to losses they faced during their lives.

 

Selected objects from the exhibition:

Figurative adze Bene-Lulua peoples, DRC, 19th century, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Gift of Barbara and Joseph Goldenberg, X2010.16.61
Beaded crown, Yoruba peoples, Nigeria, Early 20th century, FM at UCLA; Gift of Barbara and Joseph Goldenberg; X2010.16.65a,b
Female with child, Yombe peoples, D.R.C., Fowler Museum at UCLA; Gift of Barbara and Joseph Goldenberg, X2010.16.110
Nkishi figure, Songye peoples, D.R.C., Fowler Museum at UCLA; Gift of Barbara and Joseph Goldenberg; X2010.16.57
Jaina figurine, Maya, Late Classic, 600–900 C.E., Fowler Museum at UCLA; Gift of Barbara and Joseph Goldenberg; X2010.16.4
Divination bowl figure Attributed to Kitwa Biseke, ca. 1880s–ca. 1950s Luba peoples, Malemba Nkulu, Shaba Province, Democratic R

 

With their transformational gift, Joseph Goldenberg (1925–2001) and Barbara Goldenberg (1928–2010) have left a lasting legacy at the Fowler. Visionary philanthropists, they also distributed their largesse far beyond the Fowler and Los Angeles making other important gifts of art to the Cantor Art Center at Stanford University; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Bowers Museum of Cultural Arts; National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C.; and the Dallas Museum of Art. The Fowler is deeply grateful that a majority of the Goldenbergs’ stellar collection came to UCLA where it will be studied, seen, and appreciated so broadly.
 

PRESS RELEASE
EXHIBITION CREDITS

This exhibiton is curated by Marla C. Berns (Shirley and Ralph Shapiro Director, Fowler Museum), Mary (Polly) Nooter Roberts (Professor, Department of World Arts and Cultures), and Gemma Rodrigues (Curator of African Arts, Fowler Museum).