NEW BRITAIN MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART

Ghana Paints Hollywood

November 9, 2017–February 19, 2018

This November, the New Britain Museum of American Art presents Ghana Paints Hollywood—a vibrant exhibition featuring over 50 hand-painted movie posters created by Ghanaian artists in the mid-1980s to the early 1990s—a period referred to as the "Golden Age" of Ghanaian Movie posters. Commissioned to advertise movie screenings throughout the nation’s countryside, the posters reveal the unique artistic skills of their creators as well as the wide variety of Hollywood films that attracted the Ghanaian public, including blockbusters such as Coming to America, The Matrix, Indiana Jones, and Rocky.

Unique in all of Africa, the Golden Age of imagination-driven movie posters arose in Ghana at a time when commercial marketing from abroad was minimal and these unique and exotic visual narrative paintings were made by the best and brightest artists of a generation. Hired by local film distributors, these artists, including Joe Mensah, Gilbert Forson, Leonardo, and Death Wonder, competed fiercely and directly in the public eye for this exciting new work, being careful to sign and date the great majority of their paintings. Their artistry stood its ground against the inevitable tide of printing technology that globalization introduced, and for a short while, represented a brief period in which man won out over machines.

There is a compelling cross-cultural conversation generated by these images of American films, painted by Ghanaian artists exclusively for their local audience. It is unlikely that American filmmakers imagined that their films would be seen in Ghana; or that these artists in Ghana ever considered that their artwork would have a chance to be seen in the country where the movies that so inspired them were produced.

Exhibition Organizers and Sponsors

Ghana Paints Hollywood is organized by the New Britain Museum of American Art in collaboration with Ernie Wolfe III.

It is made possible by the generous support of John N. Howard and Sylvia Bonney.

We gratefully acknowledge the funding of Anita Arcuni Ferrante and Anthony Ferrante; Brendan and Carol Conry; The David T. Langrock Foundation; The Aeroflex Foundation; Sam and Janet Bailey; and Pierre and MaryEllen Guertin. Additional support is provided by Kelly and Jonathan Jarvis; Susan and John Rathgeber; The West Family; the New Britain Commission on the Arts and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development Office of the Arts; and Carolyn and Elliot Joseph.