VT Home: In the Mix – The Art of Ethnic Elements, Part I

Cole Harrell

Throughout VTHome we consistently make reference to juxtaposition and the idea of eclectic styling in the home. This week, we’re going to explore the idea of African and tribal art in contemporary homes and provide examples of how it can look fresh and modern.

During the early 1900’s African art became a major influence among European artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, and Gauguin. In fact, African figures were what inspired the faces in cubism and helped define the early modernist movement.

My good friend and African Art expert, Cole Harrell, President of Harrell African and Oceanic Art, has a couple of tips to keep in mind if you are considering adding African art to your collection.

1. Look for narratives or themes within your existing collection

For example, if you are a water person, love the beach or have a connection to the water, look for African materials or tribal art that centers around water spirits and coastal regions, etc.

2. Always be sure to check the three A’s

Age, Authenticity and Aesthetics. Make sure that what you are considering is from a reputable source.

3. Don’t be afraid to seek second opinions

Make use of the tribal art community as dealers and as consultants. Most dealers are happy to help new collectors make educated buying choices.

Below are some ideas to inspire you if you are considering spicing up your home with African art.

VT Home

This masculine home features African pieces with contemporary lines in a fresh and sexy way.

VT Home

This room by Kelly Wearstler is a whimsical and extremely contemporary interpretation of the idea of mixing tribal or African pieces in an unexpected way.

VT Home

The contemporary artist Victor Matthews created a series of totem poles used in this American lobby. The snappy mix of bold yellow upholstery, cold hard lines, and an organic shaped rug with the contemporary wooden ‘totem poles’ feels fresh and new and anything but ordinary.

VT Home

This contemporary home features a tribal art theme in the entrance including sculpture and images. The mix of these pieces with the clean lines actually features the collection.