This time it's enough to say `I'm going back to see it again'. Munich sends some African masterpieces

It's frustrating for a critic to be impressed and delighted by an exhibition but to lack sufficient expertise to write about it with genuine authority. I cite as an example my reaction to ``African Masterpieces From Munich: The Staatliches Museum F"ur V"olkerkunde'' at the Center for African Art here. I found the show fascinating, beautifully mounted, and packed with some of the most impressive and handsomely crafted pieces of African art I've seen in a long time.

But I'm no expert in this area. So what can I say about this display of 120 African works of art chosen by Susan Vogel, the center's director, from the Staatliches Museum's world-famous collection of over 20,000 African objects, except that I enjoyed it thoroughly and recommend it highly?

Of course, I could quote from Dr. Vogel's introductory remarks in the profusely illustrated catalog for the exhibition: ``The wealth of early material published here gives us a benchmark for African art against which we can measure objects that arrived in Europe later. Precious to scholar and connoisseur alike are the great series of 19th-century works of art from the Kongo, the Luba, the Cross River area; the unparalleled Duala pieces, and those from southern Africa.

``There is much here for Americans to savor for the first time: masterpieces that have never before left Germany are here to enjoy, rare witnesses of Africa's past. Here too are new ideas, and unfamiliar approaches to ponder anew.''

To which I can only add that I'm going back to see this exhibition again, and that I've recommended it to several of my friends and colleagues. The exhibition continues at the Center For African Art, 54 East 68th Street, through Aug. 16. Thereafter, ``African Masterpieces'' travels to the Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Va., where it will be on view Sept. 17-Dec. 13.

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