Skip to content Skip to footer

Wednesdays, September 9–30, 6 – 7:30pm*


Ensemble view, Room 22, south wall, Philadelphia. © The Barnes Foundation

$220; members $198
(4 classes)

*We encourage you to watch the lectures live, but classes can be streamed anytime after the live session ends. See our FAQ.

Apply for Scholarship Registration Opens Soon

About the Class

In the early 20th century, leaders of the European avant-garde—from Apollinaire to Picasso, Kandinsky, and Giacometti—collected, consumed, and copied images and objects from across the African continent with unprecedented fervor. What drew European artists and thinkers to African art? What did they learn and borrow from encounters with works like Baule masks and Fang reliquary figures, and what did they imagine—and sometimes misunderstand—about the cultures that created them? To what extent did African art inspire innovative approaches to form, color, and media, and how did European artists transform their varied sources? The interaction between the vast holdings of modern European painting and African sculpture at the Barnes will serve as the departure point for our study.

At a moment when questions around identity, race, otherness, and supremacy are at the forefront of contemporary thought, this class will confront challenging issues head-on. How did the history of colonization shape the modernist canon? How do we draw the line between appreciation and appropriation, between citation and fetish? When does the juxtaposition of cultures—within individual works of art, and in their display—advance a Eurocentric worldview, and when is this hierarchy undermined?

Each week, the main lecture will be followed by an optional small-group discussion session that allows students to ask questions and exchange ideas. These 40-minute sessions, moderated by the instructor or a teaching assistant, take place Thursdays, September 10–October 1, between 6 and 8:30 pm. You will be automatically assigned a time slot once you enroll.


Naina Saligram

Saligram specializes in late 19th- and early 20th-century art in France. She holds an MA in history of art from Yale University and worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on exhibitions including Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting (2015) and Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse: Visions of Arcadia (2012). Her current research centers on Georges Braque in the 1930s.