A view of the Other

The history of European perspectives of Africa, America and Oceania

The history of European perspectives of Africa, America and Oceania

A view of the Other is dedicated to the successive visions formed by Europeans of the African, American and Oceanian cultures. This programme is a pretext for setting our relative views into perspective via a few thematic series as the musée du quai Branly prepares to open its doors to the public. Rather than looking back to the future, this catalogue (and the exhibition which gave rise to it) marks a point of departure.

From the Renaissance to the present day, the ‘idols of the savages’, ‘the tools of primitive man’, ‘primitive fetishes’, ‘Negro sculptures’ and ‘first arts’ bore witness to taste and distaste, and revealed reflections on otherness.  The originality of this publication lies in this historical depth, which allows these artefacts to be inserted within a broader history of art.

The musée du quai Branly's reference point is not only the products of other cultures that witness to their first contacts with Europe, but also the European artefacts among which they were disseminated. Thus the catalogue shows, in a succession of remarkable chapters, how European views progressively admitted other products, passing, for instance, from astonished curiosity to systematic classifications, from evolutionist aberrations to images of the universal.  

Through these pages, the reader embarks on a voyage in King Charles V’s mechanical galleon - a treasure from the Ecouen Museum - and admires portraits of Indians painted in 1637 for the Prince of Nassau’s palace, the Hapsburg’s rhinoceros horn goblets, a pre-Columbian turquoise mask mounted by the Medici in silver gilt, the afro-Portuguese ivories of the 16th century, a mourner’s costume brought back from Tahiti by Captain Cook, a mysterious crystal skull, the snake charmer by Douanier Rousseau, a Punu mask acquired by Picasso in 1908 and Man Ray’s Black and White…



352 pages in 25.80 cm x 28.5 cm format

420 colour illustrations

price : 49 €

isbn 2-915133-32-8 / 2-7118-5219-9

Co-edited by the musée du quai Branly/Réunion des musées nationaux

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exhibition curator

Yves Le Fur, Director of Heritage and Collections, in charge of the Permanent Collections, musée du quai Branly


Zeno Bianu, Monique Jeudy-Ballini, Adrienne Kaeppler, Maureen Murphy, Pascal Riviale, Nanette Snoep, Claude Stefani, and Françoise Viatte.

more information

Click here to discover the exposition.