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Constantine Petridis

Curator of African Art 

Constantine Petridis, curator of African Art, was born and educated in Belgium. He has been in charge of African art at the Cleveland Museum of Art since January 2002. Initially in a joint appointment with Case Western Reserve University, where he served as Assistant Professor in the Art History and Art Department, Petridis became the museum's first full-time Curator of African Art in 2008.

In 2007 he accepted the additional responsibility to co-chair, the coordination of the interpretation of the collection in light of its reinstallation in the Museum's Rafael Viñoly-designed expansion. From 2005 to 2008 Petridis also served as Consulting Curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada, where he oversaw the installation of the renowned Frum Collection of African Art.

Before coming to Cleveland, he held pre- and postdoctoral fellowships from the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), and the Belgian American Educational Foundation. In the summer of 2005 he was a Paul Mellon Visiting Senior Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

In addition to numerous essays in edited collections, entries in exhibition catalogues, and articles in scholarly journals. Petridis co-edited Face of the Spirits: Masks from the Zaire Basin (1993) and was the editor of and main contributor to Frans M. Olbrechts: In Search of Art in Africa (2001), both in conjunction with exhibitions at the Ethnographic Museum in Antwerp, Belgium.

While in Cleveland, he authored South of the Sahara: Selected Works of African Art (2003), a book featuring 42 key works from the Museum's African collection. In 2008, Petridis curated the exhibition Art and Power in the Central African Savanna which was also shown at the Menil Collection in Houston and at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Petridis recently curated The Art of Daily Life: Portable Objects from Southeast Africa. Comprising some 70 loans from the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and 22 private American collections, it featured 15 new additions to the Museum's collection. The accompanying catalogue also includes an essay by Karel Nel, a professor at the University of the Witwaterstand in Johannesburg and renowned specialist of southern African art.

Petridis is the Editor of the series Visions of Africa published by 5 Continents Editions (Milan, Italy) and serves on the editorial board of the journal African Arts (University of California, Los Angeles, USA). In 2003 he was named Corresponding Member of the Belgian Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences.

He holds an MA in art history and archaeology (1991) and a PhD in art history (1997), both from the University of Ghent in Belgium. He is currently in the process of transforming his dissertation on the arts of the Luluwa people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo into a book-length publication.

Contact the Curator at: 
AfricanArt [at] clevelandart [dot] org