Doors separate and define space, facilitating passage between interior and exterior, private and public, sacred and profane. The astonishing range of doors in the Fowler Museum collections demonstrates that doors are not just doors. These carved, embossed, embroidered, beaded, and painted portals from around the world illustrate extraordinary artistry and the wide conceptual variety that diverse cultures bring to the uses, meanings, and potentialities of doors. In the Fowler in Focus gallery inside Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, see twenty elaborate doors from palaces, tombs, granaries, ceremonial houses and more.
Twenty impressive and diverse doors drawn from the Fowler Museum collections are considered in ‘Fowler in Focus: Doors in Global Perspective,’ on display at the Museum from Jun. 24–Dec. 2, 2007. These carved, embossed, embroidered, beaded, and painted portals from around the world illustrate extraordinary artistry and the wide conceptual variety that diverse cultures bring to the uses, meanings, and potentialities of doors.
The doors on display in this exhibition date from the 19th–20th century and are from Asia, the Pacific, Africa, and the Americas, with many examples from Nigeria and Indonesia. Most are made of wood, and embellished with carving (showing dragons, crocodiles, and abstract designs), paint, and other decorations, while three of the pieces are textile hangings from India, and feature elaborate embroidery and beading. Their original places of use include tombs, granaries, homes, ceremonial houses, and even a palace, as in the case of a richly ornamented wood door from Nigeria carved by Yoruba artists Lamidi Fakeye and Fayomi. Created for a palace gate in the city of Ile-Ife, this door is one of sixteen commissioned in the 1950s by Adesoji Aderemi II, the reigning king.
The doors selected for this Fowler in Focus exhibition share a number of significant characteristics. Some communicate prestige and status, perhaps identifying their owners as wealthy or important ancestors. Many of these doors served to protect in the widest sense and include imagery capable of offering spiritual as well as physical security. Their symbols could also be propitious, alluding to cosmology, ancestors, and deities, as well as to abundance, health and wellbeing, continuity, and beneficence.
Architecture of the Veil: An Installation by Samta Benyahia was made possible by the generous support of Barbara and Joe Goldenberg and Etant donnés: The French-American Fund for Contemporary Art. Additional support provided by Air France. Special thanks to the Levantine Cultural Center and the French Consulate of Los Angeles.