African Art and Silicon Chips

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African Art and Silicon Chips: A Life in Science and Art
Written by Jay T. Last
Hard Cover
192 Pages
Full Color
© 2015 Sierra Vista Books

In the late 1950s and early 1960s Jay Last, fresh from receiving his Ph.D. in physics from MIT, became involved both in participating in the startup of Silicon Valley through the development of silicon integrated circuit chips and in forming a substantial collection of African art, which at that time was making the transition from display in museums of anthropology to being seriously treated as fine art. This book discusses the author’s experiences in both of these fields over the course of the next fifty years


The African art market underwent marked changes during this period. At the high point of African art collecting in the quarter century from the late 1950s to the early 1980s, vast quantities of art objects were sourced in Africa and brought to Europe and the United States through a system that proved to be remarkably efficient. Large numbers of dealers had businesses, primarily in New York, Paris, and Brussels, to supply this material to an increasing number of enthusiastic collectors. Eventually, the African sources dried up and the market transformed in the 1980s, when less emphasis became placed on the unknown and different and more on the provenance of pieces in existing collections.


Having been active in the African art market and knowing most of the major dealers of this material throughout this period, the author not only discusses the evolution of the field but also provides biographical information and anecdotes about the various colorful individuals who were involved in it while also relating his experiences in acquiring objects and illustrating some of his major acquisitions. This is a unique and personal view of art collecting.