For Students

Past Exhibitions: 2004

Masterworks of African Art: Yoruba

November 13, 2004–May 8, 2005


Seated Figure (Oyá) with Beaded Collar
late-19th--early-20th century
Carved wood, beads, cloth
Collection of Robert M. and Lillian Montalto Bohlen

The art of the Yoruba people is the focus of the third and final of a series of exhibitions organized by distinguished guest curator Michael Kan exploring the varying aesthetic qualities of African art as well as the social values from the cultures that made these objects. This exhibition examines the Yoruba construct of beauty through outstanding examples drawn from regional collections. Works will be considered through several “voices,” including those of University of Michigan students, curator Michael Kan, and a Yoruba diviner.

Masterworks of African Art: Yoruba Ideas and Aesthetics was guest curated by Michael Kan, Curator Emeritus of African and Oceanic Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and by David T. Doris, Assistant Professor of African Arts and Visual Culture at the University of Michigan, Department of the History of Art and the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies. The gallery commentary for this exhibition was written by Professor Doris and students in his First Year Seminar in Yoruba Visual Culture, with additional contributions by Michael Kan and by seventh-generation Yoruba diviner and ritual specialist Kolawole Oshitola. The bringing together of these diverse and deeply informed interpretive "voices," provides multiple ways to engage with, better understand, and enjoy the exceptional works of art on view.

Research funding for this exhibition was provided by Robert M. and Lillian Montalto Bohlen. The exhibition and its accompanying publication have been made possible by TIAA-CREF, with additional support provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Education, the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, and The Atlantic Studies Initiative.