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What A Way To Go! Fantasy Coffins from Africa

It may be summer, but it’s school days at Jack Shainman Gallery in Kinderhook, and the revelation this year is–fantasy coffins. These fascinating works, three made by a Ghanaian artist named Paa Joe, are unlike most you’ve ever seen. They’re the centerpiece of The School‘s summer exhibition, which opened Saturday (June 24).

Called abebuu adekai, the coffins are a national tradition, a celebration of death and the afterlife of those who have died–thus, the sarcophagi represent the interests of the deceased. Through they are made for a purpose, they can ascend into the realm of folk art and perhaps beyond, depending on the eye of the beholder. The gallery’s press release says that the coffins, which used to be used only for chiefs and priests, have grown in popularity and are now attracting the attention of contemporary art museums and galleries.

Here’s one:

Shainman’s biggest find, perhaps, was El Anasui, and he had a piece on view at The School as well:

And there were plenty of other artists to see there. Shainman mixed contemporary works with older art.

But,  mainly, I am writing about The School because, like Magazzino in my last post, it adds to the art attractions in the Hudson Valley, and therefore likely expands the interest in art–it certainly gives art more exposure.

Here are two more views:

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