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Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria
Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria presents a major part of the extraordinary corpus of ancient Ife art in terra-cotta, stone, and metal, dating from the ninth to the fifteenth centuries.


Resonance from the Past: African Sculpture from the New Orleans Museum of Art

Maternity figure.

Resonance from the Past: African Sculpture from the New Orleans Museum of Art consists of approximately 100 works of art including masks, figures, musical instruments, ceramics, and fabric and beadwork costumes chosen from the extensive collection of the New Orleans Museum of Art. This exceptional selection is available while NOMA rebuilds its African galleries, using this period to make its collection better known. The exhibition includes all of the best objects from the collection.

The exhibition presents works from west and central Africa including important groups of sculpture from the Dogon and Bamana people of Mali such as iron staffs used on altars; a selection of figures and masks of the Dan, Wè, and Bete people of Ivory Coast, which run the gamut from idealistic to expressionistic forms; and Akan sculpture from the Baule including a carved door showing a large fish devouring a member of its own species. 

A highlight of the show is the outstanding collection of Yoruba art used in ceremonies of the Ogboni, Gelede, Ifa, and Epa cults. Two of the most famous Nigerian sculptors of the early twentieth century—Areogun of Osi-Ilorin and Olowe of Ise—are represented. A sculpted house post by Olowe and an intricate figurative bowl and tray by Areogun suggest how individual genius modifies what is often taken to be traditional African style. Also included are a richly adorned beaded king’s tunic and several examples of sumptuous beadwork. Other works from Nigeria come from the kingdom of Benin and from the Igbo and Ijo people.

The art of equatorial Africa is represented by a royal mask and figure from the Cameroon Grasslands, three major Fang reliquary figures from Gabon, and a female mourning mask of the Punu/Lumbo. Works from the Congo basin include ancestor and power figures, in wood and ivory, from the Bembe, Teke, and Yombe. The exhibition concludes dramatically with figures from the Chokwe, Luba, and Tabwa people of Angola.

Resonance from the Past: African Sculpture from the New Orleans Museum of Art toured to the following venues: San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas (2005); Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, Arkansas (2006); Albuquerque Museum, New Mexico (2006); National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC (2006-07); University of Wyoming Art Museum, Laramie, Wyoming (2007); Middlebury College Museum of Art, Vermont (2007); Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State College, University Park, Pennsylvania (2008).

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