Dr. Robert Horn says his fascination with African art started when he was a teenager studying art and art history in the 1950s. But the first time he ever purchased African art was when he found a mask from the Senufo culture in a Greenwich Village, New York art gallery in the 1960s.
“It was relatively inexpensive, so I bought it,” he says. “I didn’t have any money, particularly, but I could afford that. And so that was the beginning — 150 or so pieces later, here we are.”
A psychiatrist who now works and resides in Rochester, New York, Horn has continued to collect African art, amassing a sizable trove of 20th century works. He caught the attention of the Flint Institute of Arts director John Henry, who invited him to exhibit his collection in the museum. Starting this weekend, Horn’s collection finds a temporary home in Flint as part of the museum’s Black History Month celebrations.
It’s the first time Horn has ever exhibited his collection outside of his home. It’s also part of a two-pronged approach to celebrating African history at the museum. Horn’s collection opens alongside Miracles and Glory Abound, an exhibition of found-object “power figures” made by Pittsburgh-based artist Vanessa German. Both exhibitions open to the public on Sunday.
Horn’s FIA exhibition features more than 70 objects from more than 40 African cultures, including masks, figurines, and beads. Most of the objects were made between 1940 and 1970 by unknown artists.