This fall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art unveiled a stunning exhibition highlighting eight major sculptural traditions from West and Central Africa. Focusing on canonized portraiture of storied, nigh-mythical chieftans, kings, and other larger-than-life elite, Heroic Africans. Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures traces the histories of these cultures through the chronology of the individuals they enshrined, sculpted images of whom were often the only tangible historical record left to posterity.
The masterpieces on display represent the Akan, Bangwa, Kom, Chokwe, Luluwa, Kuba, and Hemba cultures, as well as the civilizations of Ife and Benin. Equally impressive on aesthetic, conceptual, and curatorial levels, the installation offers audiences unprecedented experiences on every side. The in-depth examination of specific identities and personal histories to which visitors are treated here is already uncommon in African exhibitions, let alone one that encompasses such a wide variety of exceedingly beautiful and disparate works.
Beginning from this rare and challenging theme, Heroic Africans leads viewers through a great hall of champions, from culture-founders to queen mothers, concluding with an amazing assemblage of twenty-two Hemba commemoration figures, such an overwhelming gathering of which has never been seen before.
Visit the official website here.
Images courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art