African Iron at the Fowler
The UCLA Fowler Museum's "Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths" is the first international loan exhibition to explore African ironwork as an artistic medium. Debuting in L.A., it will travel to the Smithsonian and the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris. (At top, a 19th-century Nkutshu Throwing Knife-Shaped Currency, one of the show's standouts.)
Compare the bulkily 3D boli to the wiry, mid-19th century Bovine Figures of the Karagwe Kingdom (Tanzania). Collectively they're reminiscent of Picasso's 1945 deconstruction of The Bull.
Another unexpected cross-culture moment is a 19th-century oil lamp, Sorko or Bozo (today's Mali). It must reflect the Jewish/Islamic "Tree of Life," demonstrating trans-Saharan conversations we are only beginning to be understood.