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Exhibition Preview African Master Carvers: Known and Famous

Explore the lives and works of a select group of master carvers who enjoyed recognition, and sometimes even fame, during their lifetime in the CMA’s next exhibition African Master Carvers: Known and Famous, opening this Sun, 3/26. 

Through fifteen stellar examples from different cultural regions in West, Central, and Southern Africa, the exhibition addresses the false assumption that all African artists who created tradition-based art were anonymous, even though few historical artists south of the Sahara are known by name, and biographical data about their training and life is scarce. Also included are the artists’ biographies and, when available, their portrait photographs.

See below for images of works from this show, and this Sat, 3/25, don’t miss the opportunity to walk through the exhibition and hear an overview from exhibition curator Constantine Petridis, Curator of African Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. 


Male figure, c. 1870–1910. Carved by the Bangwa artist Ateu Atsa (1840–1910). Cameroon, chiefdom of Fontem. Wood, pigment; h. 92.1 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund, 1987.62.


Helmet mask (Epa Orangun), presumably c. 1920. Carved by the Yoruba artist Bamgboye (1893–1978). Nigeria, Ekiti region, Odo-Owa village. Wood, pigment; h. 137.2 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund and Gift of Mary Grant Price, 1991.165.


Face mask (Kodal, Kodoli-yehe, or Kpeli-yehe), possibly 1900–1950. Presumably carved by the Senufo artist Sabariko Koné (died c. 1950). Côte d’Ivoire, Ouazomon village. Wood, pigment, metal (tacks); h. 31.6 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund, 1989.48.


Plank mask (Nwantantey), c. 1980. Carved by the Bwa artist Yacouba Bonde (born 1963). Burkina Faso, Boni village. Wood, pigment, fiber; h. 193 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Sundry Art–Education Fund, 2012.24.
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