Arts of Africa
ART OF DESIGN
African artists have a long history of responding to fresh design concepts, while always revising them to ends both practical and novel. Together, these three works trace the evolution of a single form: first, as an imported idea became African, and then as contemporary artists adapted this African form for a global market.
Most seats in sub-Saharan Africa are low stools, carved from a single block of wood. Yet, as early as the sixteenth century, Portuguese traders and explorers introduced chairs with backs to southern and eastern Africa. Chokwe artists soon began to produce similar chairs, adding sculptural scenes and Chokwe motifs. This wood chair was carved as an object of status for a chief.
In fact, none of these three chairs were meant for sitting. Gonçalo Mabunda's Harmony chair uses decommissioned handguns, bullet belts, and other munitions collected from the estimated 7 million weapons left in Mozambique following the end of its civil war in 1992. Its design references a coastal East African tradition of high-backed chairs that were symbols of power and prestige, discussion and debate.
The Sansa chair, an inventive deconstruction of the chair form, is among the original creations that have established Cheick Diallo as one of Africa's leading contemporary designers. Built at Diallo's direction by artisans from Bamako, the half-reclining Sansa chair seems to sit midway between a European notion of the chair as a leisure object and a West African idea of the chair as a support for displaying a person of status.
Welded weapons (handguns, rifles, land mines, bullets, machine gun belts, rocket-propelled grenades), iron alloy, copper alloy, plastic, wood, and paint
56 1/8 × 34 1/4 × 26 1/2 in. (142.6 × 87 × 67.3 cm) (show scale)
This item is not on view
Bequest of Samuel E. Haslett, by exchange, gift of Mrs. Morris Friedsam, Georgine Iselin, and Mrs. Joseph M. Schulte, by exchange and Designated Purchase Fund
© Gonçalo Mabunda
The Brooklyn Museum holds a non-exclusive license to reproduce images of this work of art from the rights holder named here.
The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act.
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact email@example.com
If you wish to contact the rights holder for this work, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
and we will assist if we can.
Gonçalo Mabunda (Mozambican, born 1975). Harmony Chair, 2009. Welded weapons (handguns, rifles, land mines, bullets, machine gun belts, rocket-propelled grenades), iron alloy, copper alloy, plastic, wood, and paint, 56 1/8 × 34 1/4 × 26 1/2 in. (142.6 × 87 × 67.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Samuel E. Haslett, by exchange, gift of Mrs. Morris Friedsam, Georgine Iselin, and Mrs. Joseph M. Schulte, by exchange and Designated Purchase Fund, 2013.26.2. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2013.26.2_threequarter_PS9.jpg)
threequarter, 2013.26.2_threequarter_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.