PRINT Summer 1991


A Little History of a Contemporary Culture

Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906–1980), poet, philosopher, and first president of Senegal, West Africa, tried to create the conditions for a Modern African art by establishing a school of Modern art, L’École Normale Supérieure d’Éducation Artistique, and a grand museum of Modern art, the Musée Dynamique. Designed in the international (mausoleum) style, the museum nestles between rocks on the craggy coastline of Dakar, Senegal’s capital, like a giant foreign object that has washed ashore.

Senghor’s wish was for black Africans to participate in “international” culture by capitalizing on Modernism’s fascination with the “primitive.” He soon learned that, as with other of its resources, the West only wants to import Africa’s culture raw. As one Senegalese cultural official put it, “Cacao may be grown in Africa, but if you make chocolate from it in the hot

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