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Heroic Africans

Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures

written by Alisa LaGamma

Yale University Press | ISBN 9780300175844

Hardback – 280 pages


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Over the centuries, artists across sub-Saharan Africa have memorialized eminent figures in their societies using an astonishingly diverse repertoire of naturalistic and abstract sculptural idioms. The arrival of Europeans as traders, then as colonizers, led to the isolation of many of these sculptures from their original sites, as well as from the contexts in which they were conceived; thus, today, they are seen primarily as timeless representations of generic archetypes. This extensively illustrated publication reexamines major landmarks of African art in terms of the individuals who inspired them and the cultural values that informed them, providing insight into the hidden meaning and inspiration behind these great artistic achievements. "Heroic Africans" considers the landmark sculptural traditions of the Kingdom of Benin and the Ife civilization in Nigeria; the Akan people of Ghana; the Bangwa, Kom, and related chiefdoms of the Cameroon Grassfields; the Chokwe of Angola and Zambia; and, the Luluwa, Hemba, and Kuba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Some 116 masterpieces created between the 12th and the early 20th century - complemented by maps, drawings, and excavation and documentary photographs - reveal the religious and aesthetic conventions that defined distinct regional genres.

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