Art patrons often serve as facilitators and mediators, organizing exhibitions and workshops and publishing on the artists they have been working with. This panel invites papers reflecting on different models of art patronage in African countries, questioning even the term 'patron' itself.
Patronage in the visual arts is a longstanding practice that enabled the production and visibility of artworks through financial and material support, publicized in exhibitions, catalogues and art writings. Ideally this relationship would be mutually beneficial for the artist and the patron, but it is ambiguous due to uneven power relations between them - financially, socially, culturally and politically. In the realm of arts from Africa the relationship becomes even more complicated. While patronage exists in most African societies there is the special relationship of influential patrons with a Western background working with African artists. Patrons are often not only facilitators but also mediators organizing exhibitions and workshops and publishing on the artists they have been working with. The work and impact of some influential patrons of European descent like Ulli Beier in Nigeria, Frank McEwan in today's Zimbabwe, Pancho Guedes in Mozambique, Pierre Lods in the Republic of the Congo or Robert Loder and his Triangle Workshops have recently become a research subject for instance in the publication "African Art and Agency in the Workshop" (Kasfir & Förster, 2013). Lately, also powerful African collectors have entered the scene and can be regarded as 'new' patrons with a decolonizing agenda. This panel invites papers reflecting further on different models of art patronage in African countries and how they are or were connected, questioning the term 'patron' itself. Of interest are case studies as well as theoretical reflections from multi-disciplinary perspectives, with view to very recent developments and changes in the field.