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Loyola Announces Receipt of African Art Archives

Loyola press release - April 9, 1998

(New Orleans)—Frére Joseph-Aurélien Cornet, one of the foremost experts on the art of the Congo, has gifted his archives to Loyola University New Orleans. Professor Mark Grote, chairman of the Department of Visual Arts at Loyola made the announcement today at the Arts Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA) conference being held at the New Orleans Marriott.

Cornet’s important scholarship is primarily field work, historical in nature and impossible to replicate. Included in the archives are as many as 150 field notebooks and 20,000 photographs. Cornet’s work is considered one of the most important African visual archives in the world. The collection is as important to Congolese art as the Fagg Collection at the British Museum is to Nigerian art and Gebauer Collection at the Met and Smithsonian is to Cameroonian art.

During the announcement today, Rev. Bernard P. Knoth, S.J., university president, said, “Loyola is honored to become the home of Brother Cornet’s definitive works and looks forward to the opportunities this gift provides our students and the New Orleans community.”

Cornet chose Loyola as the recipient both because of New Orleans’ distinctive heritage as an African city and because he felt that this visual archive would be a great compliment to Tulane’s Amistad’s Center Literary Archive and the New Orleans Museum of Art’s Collection of African Art.

Cornet’s archives are a definitive addition to the Loyola Collection, the university’s permanent collection of art. The Loyola Collection, guided by Charles Davis of the Davis Gallery, seeks to emphasize the art scholarship of members of religious orders who were in many cases the first art historians in both the developed and the developing world.

This week Loyola received the first group of field notebooks from Cornet. Cornet’s work will be housed in the new Visual Arts Center and Gallery located on the fourth floor of the J. Edgar and Louise S. Monroe Library which is currently under construction. Funding for the Visual Arts Center and Gallery has provided by the Ella West Freeman Foundation, the J. Aron Foundation and the Zemurray Foundation.