The LACMA website is now showing a sampling of the museum's new trove of Kuba textiles. The site also reveals the collection's source, the Belgian artist Georges Meurant, a geometric abstractionist and author of Shoowa Design: African Textiles from the Kingdom of Kuba. LACMA bought Meurant's 117-piece collection this May for a reported $450,000. Meurant, a mid-career artist (born 1948) falls into a long tradition of western painters who found inspiration in Kuba textiles, among them Klimt, Matisse, and Klee. (Above, a Shoowa ceremonial panel in the collection, late 19th or early 20th century. Left, an untitled 2008 oil by Meurant.)
Don't hold your breath waiting for a non-virtual look at Meurant's collection. In 2008 LACMA initiated a small installation of African art at a prominent location next to the plaza entrance of the Ahmanson Building. Deputy director Nancy Thomas promised it was "the start of a long-term permanent program for African art at LACMA," with loans from the Fowler and annual rotations. But after that first show closed, the room began showing European and American design. Whatever happened to African art?