portrait d'Alioune Diop , fondateur de la revue Présence Africaine
portrait d'Alioune Diop, fondateur de la revue Présence Africaine



fondation Total

documents complémentaires

en prolongement ou préparation à la visite de l'exposition, le musée du quai Branly vous propose des contenus complémentaires :

chronologie des événements et publications

liens internet

Présence Africaine

visuel de l'affiche Présence africaine

a forum, a movement, a network

east mezzanine

Collections ticket 8.50€ full price and 6€ reduced price

from Tuesday, November 10, 2009 to Sunday, January 31, 2010

head curator: Sarah Frioux-Salgas

Présence africaine is the literary and cultural journal established by the Senegalese intellectual Alioune Diop in 1947, and also became a publishing house from 1949. It was a tool for dissemination that allowed black intellectuals and writers to reclaim their cultural and historic identities that the colonial context negated or “exoticized”.

This exhibition presents a number of works and documents from archives, photographs, and some objects. Sound and audiovisual recordings also occupy an important place: documents from the period and interviews specially created for this exhibition punctuate the route.

This is done through considering the emergence of a movement and of a forum for the thought and claims of the black world at a period when the majority of the West had a deformed and even deprecating view.

around the exhibition

a number of rendezvous are organized in the Jacques Kerchche reading room, around the Présence Africaine exhibition

consult the programming of the reading room around the Présence Africaine exhibition

you can also download a detailed chronology of events and publications around Présence Africaine and consult a list of related websites.

masque facial zoomorphe Dogon © musée du quai Branly
Dogon zoomorphic facial mask © musée du quai Branly

Route of the exhibition

The exhibition will be presented in four sections, preceded by an introductory sequence.

Opening of the exhibition

It is a Dogon object that was the symbol of the journal and that will open the exhibition. The introduction will succinctly present the journal and the publishing house Présence Africaine, and recall the pertinence of such an exhibition today. Interviews of stellar personalities of the movement will be aired.

The Crisis. La couverture du numéro de mai 1929 est illustrée par Aaron Douglas, artiste majeur du mouvement « New Negro » © musée du quai Branly
The Crisis. The cover of the May 1929 issue is illustrated by Aaron Douglas, major artist of the “New Negro” movement © musée du quai Branly

Section 1 The Black Atlantic from pan-Africanism to negritude

The journal Présence Africaine is heir on one hand of a “black press” that existed in France in the 1920s, and on the other hand, of an international and cultural political movement.

Four great groups are distinguished in this section, presenting both cultural, political, and intellectual life linked to the “black vogue” and the international character of debates:

  • the influences of Black Americans and Haitian intellectuals
  • Paulette Nardal and her literary salon
  • the militants for equality of rights, against colonialism, and against segregation
  • Negritude

This section essentially presents archival documents, notably unpublished examples of the black press between the two wars, as well as the Journal of the Black World of Paulette Nardal.

First issue of Présence Africaine, November – December 1947 © DR

Section 2 the journal and the publishing house Présence Africaine: one project, some commitments

This section presents the project and commitments of Présence Africaine and how its founder, Alioune Diop, succeeded in uniting all the black diasporas.

Présence Africaine published all the great texts of Césaire; it participated in the dissemination, through an English translation, of the text on negritude by Jean-Paul Sartre “Black Orpheus” (1948), and also published the famed work by Sheik Anta Diop, Negro Nations and Cultures (1954).

Two large groups are distinguished in this section :

  • Creation of the journal: “Niam n’goura or raison d’être of Présence Africaine”
  • Publishing commitments: from the inventory of black cultures to anticolonialism

This section will present, among other things, exceptional hand-written documents by Sartre and Breton, as well as original photos of Alfred Metraux. Large movements and figures in history and in black culture will be evoked, such as the Black Panthers and Malcolm X.

photographie des participants du 1er congrès des écrivains et artistes noirs à la Sorbonne en septembre 1956 © DR
Photograph of the participants of the 1st congress of black writers and artists at the Sorbonne in September 1956 © DR

Section 3 1956-1959: black intellectuals debate. The congress of black artists and writers (Paris, Sorbonne, 1956 – Rome, 1959)

Two congresses of black artists were organized by Présence Africaine: the two events in 1956 and 1959 were essentially initiated and organized by Alioune Diop, who attempted to apply, in practice, the principles developed in the publishing commitments.

The objective of these congresses that took place at the time of colonization, the Cold War, apartheid, and racial segregation in the United States, was to create an inventory and a record of the culture in Africa, to consider the situation of blacks in the world. This section is thus the occasion to evoke the debates that animated the black literary and intellectual world during the 1950s.

Original examples of posters created by Picasso for the two congresses, photographs, and unpublished audio recordings illustrate this section.

boîte reliquaire anthropomorphe © musée du quai Branly photo Hughes Dubois
Anthropomorphic reliquary box © musée du quai Branly photo by Hughes Dubois

Section 4 Dakar 1966: the arts of Africa in Africa

In organizing the two congresses, Présence Africaine offered a forum to intellectuals and to writers of the black diaspora. By initiating and participating actively in the organization of the First World Festival of Negro Arts (Dakar, 1966), Présence Africaine continued its work to highlight the wealth and the diversity of artistic practices of Africans but also of the diaspora.

This festival is the first large cultural event organized in Africa by a young independent African state. This event was also a strong political stake for Léopold Lédar Senghor, president of the young republic of Senegal.

Three large groups are distinguished in this section :

  • Organization in Dakar of the First World Festival of Negro Arts (April, 1966)
  • The multiple events during the festival
  • Exhibition on  “negro art”: from Dakar (April, 1966) to Paris (Grand Palais, June, 1966)

In this section, in addition to the posters and programs of the period, are presented a part of the objects exhibited in Dakar during the 1966 exhibition. A video installation additionally provides a sense of the wealth of the living arts during the festival.

centre des archives nationales d'outre-mer

Certain rare documents, newspapers, and journals presented in the exhibition were lent by the center of National Archives abroad in Aix-en-Provence.