mercredi 21 janvier 2009

Contemporary African Folk Art..

“The productions of all arts are kinds of poetry
and their craftsmen are all poets”
Ancient Greek Philosopher

Did you know
in Africa a "barbershop" or "hair salon" quite often entails
nothing more elaborate than a barber or hair-braider with a chair
set up in the open and a signboard hanging from a tree
or market stall..?

The signs may be painted by the barbers or hairdressers themselves,
or by paid sign artists...

They are intended both to identify the businesses
and to advertise the services offered, depicting a catalogue
of intricate women's hairbraiding patterns
or the latest in men's hair styles...

Barbers' signs can often be dated by the hairstyles depicted
- today inspired as often as not by events, styles
and personalities in the USA...

You can find find "Mike Tyson", "Mr. Tee", "House Party",
and "Cocaine Cut" offered alongside such old favorites
as "Nelson Mandela", "Back Bush",
"Sportin' Waves"
and even "Boeing 707".

Brightly painted,
these signs are a colourful, humorous,
and sometimes outrageous *contemporary African folk art.
They reflect both the ancient African tradition of hairbraiding

and hair-cutting and the cultural clash of imported
(usually American) influences...
All the above signboards are from barber shops and hair-dressers in
Ghana, Mali, Benin, Burkina Faso,
Cote d'Ivoire, and Togo.

*Several important museum shows have featured African Hair-dresser’s signs,
including, in the US
Crowning Achievements: African Arts of Dressing the Hair
at the Fowler Museum of Cultural History at UCLA in 1995 and
Hair in African Art and Culture
at the Museum of African Art in New York in 2000.
African hair signs were also featured in a January 6, 2002 Style article in the
New York Times magazine.

Barber signs from the Indigo Arts Gallery were featured
in an article in Lucky magazine (January 2002).
One of their signs was included in Sharne Algotsson's book,
African Style: Down to the Details.

Photos of barber shops by:
Qaid, dede sahem, porkflamingo, danny.hammontree
Barber shop signs:

Indigo Arts Gallery

8 commentaires:

Mélanie a dit…

I Like these naive signs

l'air du temps a dit…

i wonder if you would love taking a stroll along 125th street here in harlem. when i pop by harlem, as soon as i get off the subway many african immigrant women approach me asking if they can braid my hair. it's a lot of fun to see the artistry of what they do. truly poetic:)

Callie Grayson a dit…

amazing artwork. I love the style and the technique of the signs.
This was my learned something new today. A bit of history. thanks!!

Shashi Nayagam a dit…

I love to see local artists displaying their art work in the form of posters and sign boards. Good to know that they still do it. In India it seems to have died after the computer technology took flight.

afrosoulmessenger a dit…

I've always loved those signs. I always wanted to pick my hair dresser according to those signs but my mom always got the final word. Ibelieve she had other criteria ;-)
It is always nice to stop here, there, elsewhere....

afrosoulmessenger a dit…

and l'ADT, your comment made me laugh!!!! Everytime i her: braiding, miss" @ the 125th station, I imagine what this street woul look like with extra folklore such as african hair dressers'signs!!! indeed things are different, yet the same all over the world

Baobab a dit…

Merci du voyage !

Béatrix a dit…

ça me faisait toujours rire quand je passais devant petite et je voulais toujours des tresses comme çà!!