Mercier, Jacques. Art that heals

Mercier, J. (1997). Art that heals: The image as medicine in Ethiopia. New York: The museum for African Art.

Fetishism is the most primitive form of religion; fetishes and talismans are somewhat arbitrarily chosen objects. (pag 11)

After a visit to an exhibition in which Ethiopian talismans were presented as medicinal rather than as merely aesthetic objects, teachers at Paris’s École des Beaux-arts wanted to invite the talisman-maker Gedewon to create a workshop there for a month, for they saw in his works a force “much larger” than that in works based purely in the aesthetic. They were interested in his “stance”. Picasso spoke similarly of the objects that so strongly impressed him on his famous visit to the Trocadéro one day in 1907. Talking thirty years later, to André Malraux, he described his sudden realization that African masks were not just “good forms”, as they were for his friends André Derain and George Braque, but “magic things”, “intercestors” between men and evil, “tools” against pain and danger. It was at that moment, he said, that he understood what it meant to be a painter. (pag 14)