The white man’s burden. From colonialism to postcolonialism – discourse on non-european art and its position in the artworld from the perspective of the 2020s




postcolonialism, colonial conquest, discourse, art, Africa, collections


The purpose of this paper is the presentation of a historical perspective to assess the impact of 19th-century European colonization on culture and art. The article discusses the changes that have taken place over the years in the approach to the non-European population as well as its art and culture. From the sense of "the civilization mission of white people" (which is reflected in the poem The White Man’s Burden) in the 19th century, through the interest in tribal art of European Avant-garde artists in the early 20th century, to the period of the beginning of discourse on the negative face of colonialism (e.g. Discours sur le colonialism by Aimé Césaire or visual actions by Ben Enwonwu, Ernest Mancoba). Particular attention has been paid to modern times and settling accounts with colonialism. This trend has been more and more visible since the end of the 1980s (e.g. the controversial Magiciens de la Terre (Paris) exhibition from 1989 or the Documenta exhibitions curated by non-Europeans (e.g. Okwui Enwezor). The period of the 21st century is dominated by the postcolonial trend in art (recognized artists of this profile include Fred Wilson (b. 1954), Sonia Boyce (b. 1962), Kara Walker (b. 1969), Hew Locke (b. 1959), Yinka Shonibare (b. 1962) and Kader Attia (b. 1970))


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