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While many publications focus on the aesthetics and symbolism of African art, few explore the historical dynamics and exchanges that have informed the way people in Africa have created, preserved, collected, and sold their artworks to local and foreign patrons. The book addresses key issues of market trends, the transformation in taste and aesthetics in relation to changing historical conditions, and the role of artisans, traders, and collectors in mediating knowledge and value in the international art market.
Africa in the Market, which is richly illustrated, introduces to the public the artwork in the Amrad African Art collection at the Royal Ontario Museum. The collection contains a wide range of mostly 20th century pieces that illustrate the creative achievements and cultural meanings of art objects produced and/or collected at a time of great international expansion of the market for African art. The objects are framed and interpreted within academic essays that highlight the significant role that African makers and dealers have played in shaping Western understanding of African art. The essays are based on the long-term fieldwork of a number of anthropologists and art historians who have contributed original and innovative research to the discussion. The book explores the significance of 20th-century artistic production as a material component of local traditions and, at the same time, as artifacts circulating in a global market where local specificities are often lost.