African Art Exhibition


VALPARAISO, Ind. – Valparaiso University’s Brauer Museum of Art will host an exhibition featuring more than 300 pieces of historically significant African tribal art from May 14 to August 8.  

The exhibition, “The Art and Magic of Africa: Selections from the Lawrence P. Kolton Collection,” includes pieces from the late 19th and early 20th centuries including masks, carved figures, pottery, weapons, metalwork, furniture and other items.

These works come from the extensive collection of Lawrence P. Kolton, a Porter County resident who collects and deals tribal and ethnographic works from Africa, New Guinea and China. Kolton has sold and provided pieces to major collectors and public institutions nationally and internationally.  

“A world traveler, Kolton has used his passion and keen eye to acquire pieces of historical value and remarkable quality,” says Gregg Hertzlieb, director/curator of the Brauer Museum of Art. “The works in his collection and being displayed at Valpo are not art in the sense that many of us think about art, but instead are more artfully and beautifully created artifacts that performed an essential function in a particular culture.”

Hertzlieb says many 20th century modern artists in Europe and North America were inspired by the creations of various African tribes and considered them to be as formally satisfying as sculpture from any period.

“Artists such as Picasso and Matisse strove in many of their works to emulate qualities of tribal art,” says Hertzlieb. “It is the Brauer Museum’s hope that viewers can see the displayed objects as being culturally significant and full of magic, but at the same time interesting as products of the human hand that reflect advanced concerns of shape, form, color, texture and related aesthetic elements.”

Kolton’s collection and the exhibition contain works created by tribes living throughout the continent of Africa.  

“The exhibition is intended to be varied and visually rich but ultimately is an overview or introduction that shows varied arts, varied forms meant to satisfy and intrigue,” says Hertzlieb. “In one setting, the exhibition presents a look at a portion of an incredible collection that samples the range of arts practiced in Africa during the past two centuries, and a selection of objects that demonstrate imagination, invention, uncanny technical skill and the power of artistic creation to visualize and manifest the supernatural.”

The Brauer Museum displayed a sampling of New Guinea artifacts from Kolton’s collection in 2005, in an exhibition titled “Art and the Spirit World of New Guinea.”

A free brochure accompanies the exhibition and includes an essay by Dr. Arthur P. Bourgeois, art historian at Governors State (Ill.) University.  Bourgeois’ essay serves as an introduction to the comprehension and understanding of African art and its diversity and rewards.

The opening reception for the exhibition will include a brief talk by Kolton and will take place on Friday, May 14, at 7 p.m. On July 21 at 7 p.m., Hertzlieb will present a Gallery Talk on the Africa exhibition.  Both events are free and open to the public.

The exhibition was made possible through funds provided by the Brauer Museum of Art’s Robert and Caroline Collings Endowment and the Partners for the Brauer Museum of Art.

More information about the Brauer Museum of Art is available online at The Brauer Museum of Art is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday; and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday during the academic year. Summer hours from May 18 to Aug. 22 are Tuesday through Sunday noon to 5 p.m., closed Mondays. Admission to the museum and all events is free. Group tours may be arranged by calling (219) 465-7926.