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Title: A "Sublime Art": Akinola Lasekan and Colonial Modernism in Nigeria
Authors: Lathrop, Perrin Melissa
Advisors: Okeke-Agulu, Chika
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: African art
Subjects: Art history
African American studies
African studies
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines the afflicted and intertwined histories of colonialism and modernism in mid-twentieth century Nigeria. It posits colonial modernism as a period-defining term to describe art committed to producing and articulating the modern self in spite of and against the strictures of colonialism. In using the career of a single artist, Akinọla Laṣekan (1916-1972), as an analytical lens, the project takes up the call to write a “critical biography” of Africa with the robust but scattered archives of modernity. Its unfolding chapters investigate Akinọla Laṣekan’s intersection with the intellectual histories of nationalism, pan-Africanism and modernism that shaped artistic life under late colonialism. From the 1930s to the 1960s, Laṣekan worked as an artist in decolonizing Nigeria, finding his voice as World War II shifted the global political landscape. Throughout his wide-ranging career, Laṣekan employed colonial modernism as an aesthetic strategy to counteract the anti-modernity of the colonial project. As a painter, illustrator, political cartoonist and art educator, Laṣekan developed a following among publics within and outside Nigeria. Colonial modernism, for Laṣekan, was rooted in realism as the visual language most appropriate for reconstructing the past and illustrating the present during the age of colonialism and for building the foundation of Africa’s coming “renaissance.” A member of Lagos’ intellectual elite, Laṣekan used connections with colonial officers, nationalist politicians, African American intellectuals, art educators and artists to publish books, art manuals and editorials that articulated his views on modern Nigerian art. Each chapter investigates Laṣekan’s distinct relationships with these interlocking networks of institutions and individuals invested in the development of a modern Nigerian, as well as pan-African, art and culture. The dissertation pairs analysis of Laṣekan’s different formal modes with his own critical voice to establish the stakes of artmaking at this transitional political moment.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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