Exhibitions/ Art Object

[John Quinn Album of African Art]

Charles Sheeler (American, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1883–1965 Dobbs Ferry, New York)
Portfolio of 27 photographs
Open: H. x W.: 16 5/16 x 26 x 2 in. (41.5 x 66 x 5.1 cm)
Credit Line:
The Lane Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Not on view
In 1919, John Quinn commissioned Charles Sheeler to photograph his growing collection of African art. Sheeler’s album of Quinn’s collection continues the visual conversation he had initiated with the portfolio African Negro Wood Sculpture, also on view in the exhibition. Composed of twenty-seven plates, it alternates group shots with those of individual works.
The opening plate is a striking arrangement of six sculptures from West and Equatorial Africa. Each is brought to life through the strong interplay of light and shadow characteristic of Sheeler’s work at the time. As a consequence of the dispersal of Quinn’s holdings in 1924, both his African-art collection and Sheeler’s photographs faded into obscurity until research performed in conjunction with this exhibition allowed for a selection of works and the album to be reunited.