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Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria Begins at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston 9/19


The critically acclaimed exhibition Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria begins its four-venue U.S. tour at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, on September 19, 2010. The exhibition was
most recently at the British Museum, London, where the work was hailed as "humanely observed and crafted with genius" and as the kind of art "whose greatness pre-exists and survives us."

The exhibition has been co-organized by the Museum for African Art, New York City, and the Fundación Marcelino Botín, Santander, Spain, in collaboration with the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, September 19, 2010 - January 9, 2011 

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond,February 12 - May 22, 2011
Indianapolis Museum of Art, July 8 - October 9, 2011
Museum for African Art, New York City, November 11, 2011 - March 4, 2012


Devoted to the art of Ife, the ancient city-state of the Yoruba people of West Africa
(in present-day southwestern Nigeria), Dynasty and Divinity features more than 100 extraordinary brass, terra-cotta, and stone sculptures, ranging in date from the ninth to the fifteenth centuries. Many of the works have never before been on display outside Nigeria.

Through a great diversity of objects, the exhibition reveals the remarkablycreative range
of Ife art. Included arehandsome idealized portrait heads,exquisite miniatures, expressive caricatures of old age, lively animals,and sculptures showing the impressive regalia worn by Ife's kings and queens. Together, these illuminate one of the world's greatest art centers and demonstrate not only the technological sophistication of Ife artists, but also their rich aesthetic language.


The North American tour of Dynasty and Divinity is made possible, in part, by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, and is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities. The sponsor of the New York presentation of the exhibition is Banco Santander. All works are on loan from the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments.


The exhibition catalogue is by Henry John Drewal, Evjue-Bascom Professor of Art History and Afro-American Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Adjunct Curator of African Art at the University's Chazen Museum of Art, with an introductory essay by exhibition curator Enid Schildkrout, Chief Curator and Director of Exhibitions and Publications, Museum for African Art. It has 200 pages and 147 illustrations. The catalogue is published with support from the Getty Foundation.


The Museum for African Art collects, exhibits, and preserves art that is as dynamic and diverse as the continent of Africa. Since its founding over twenty-five years ago, the Museum has maintained the highest commitment to presenting both classic and contemporary African art. It has organized more than sixty exhibitions, many of which have traveled to major venues internationally, and produced engaging publications of the highest scholarly merit, illuminating varied aspects of Africa's rich artistic traditions and cultures.

The Museum, a major center for learning, dialogue, and the appreciation of African culture, is currently expanding its agenda of exhibitions and educational offerings as it prepares to move into its new home on Fifth Avenue at 110 Street, in Manhattan.

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