Cover image for Spirits embodied : art of the Congo : selections from the Helmut F. Stern Collection
Spirits embodied : art of the Congo : selections from the Helmut F. Stern Collection
Maurer, Evan M.
Publication Information:
Minneapolis : Minneapolis Institute of Arts, [1999]

Physical Description:
153 pages : illustrations (some color), color map ; 31 cm
General Note:
Catalog of an exhibition held in 1999 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Added Corporate Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N7399.C7 S65 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



As the pace of change in African societies has quickened over the past hundred years, interest in traditional African art as a means of understanding these cultures has increased. The historic ties between the United States and the Democratic Republic of the Congo make the art from this part of the world of special interest to American audiences. Spirits Embodied is the companion volume to a landmark exhibit that opened in the fall of 1999 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

A beautifully produced and extensively illustrated volume, Spirits Embodied offers a nuanced look at Congolese art produced from 1800 to 1940. Each section of the catalog examines the art of one ethnic group and offers context for understanding the objects both as part of a rich history and as a legacy of a constantly changing culture. Detailed essays outline the beliefs, traditions, and artistic methods of each of the thirteen peoples represented, including the Kongo, Yaka, Bembe, and Pende. In-depth descriptions include explanations not only of the methods and materials used, but also of the cultural and religious significance of each piece.

This book offers a rare opportunity to understand the ways in which the arts express the social, religious, and philosophical bases of traditional Congolese societies as well as how European and American societies have influenced, appreciated, and learned from those arts.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

This catalog accompanies a major exhibition, organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, featuring Central African sculpture from Helmut Stern's extensive collection. Following an introductory text accompanied by black-and-white field photos, the book is lavishly illustrated with excellent color photographs of the objects. Batulukisi, a scholar from central Africa, wrote both the culture group descriptions and the catalog entries as well as an essay raising issues regarding varying viewpoints on traditional and modern Congolese art. The heart of the text is institute director Maurer's impressive overview of American interest in central Africa from the late 19th century and the history of American exhibitions of its art, providing insights into the personalities behind the acquisition and exhibiting of numerous major collections. Highly recommended for any library with art or African studies collections.--Eugene C. Burt, Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.