More Cantor

Because of my experience at Princeton, and because of what I’d seen in the Carrie Mae Weems exhibition, I decided to stick my head in the Africa section of the Cantor Center.* I’m glad I did since there’s a fantastic Keïta print** up on display right now. I had only seen his work online until then. As impressive his work is online, the actual print is worlds better. Definitely worth seeking it out if you’re in the area.

*I didn’t feel like looking through everything else that day.

**Which I’m unfortunately unable to find an image of online.

The Cantor African artifacts are across multiple rooms with one room specifically dedicated to post-1950 pieces which addresses the post-colonial sense of Africa as part of the global stage. As much as the “Africa is a country” thing is an annoying Western ignorant viewpoint, I found that it worked in this case. The commonality of having to deal with resolving cultures after Europe messed with things in the continent makes sense to me. The presentation wasn’t about how all Africa was the same but rather how different African artists dealt with the cultural whiplash of being unleashed from colonialism and set loose in the global economy.

That the items on display were actually intended as art rather than artifact also helped. As does the fact they were clearly marked as modern.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at, and the web at

2 thoughts on “More Cantor”

  1. I live in Palo Alto and used to visit Cantor almost daily, especially when I lived at Oak Creek. Stanford just sent a blast inviting families to do like a scavenger hunt at the Cantor and one of the things they highlighted was a Lucy Lewis owl but when I independently tried to search for it your post comes up more prominently; My parents offered their collection to Stanford but instead 1/3 is at the Deyoung and 2/3 is at the Crocker. Incidentally the Cantor was initially a collection of plants the original academic emphasis through David Starr Jordan was biology.
    I take it if you mention Matt Keehn that you were his student.

    I’m really kind of a hack at this but I do take credit for the fact that Stanford has hidden their mentawai monkey carving, If people read my blog post about the Deyoung recruiting a indigenous expert named Jun Tulius to call it out as a hoax; “the mentawai went away” I guess it could be “awry”.

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