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African Art

To reflect the continent’s deep, rich history while foregrounding recent innovations, the High’s African art collection includes a diversity of art forms from ancient through contemporary times. To represent the depth and breadth of the African diaspora, the High continues to strengthen its holdings of works by artists of African ancestry, including African American artists, to highlight cultural bonds throughout the Black Atlantic world and beyond.

The heart and soul of the High Museum of Art’s African art collection consists of extraordinary examples of masks and figurative sculptures, enriched by exceptionally fine textiles, beadwork, metalwork, and ceramics. Antiquities include an animated terracotta sculpture of a female torso wrapped in snakes (ca. 1200–1500). From the region of ancient Djenne, one of Africa’s oldest cities, this work represents Sogolon, mother of Sundiata, founder of the Mali Empire. Along with this work, a Qu’ran (ca. 1600) from Timbuktu, Djenne’s sister city, highlights art of the Mali Empire, one of the largest and most important kingdoms the world has ever known.

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Art of Burkina Faso,

'Female figure from a Karan Wemba ( Living Ancestress) Mask' by Mossi Artist, Burkina Faso

Art of Ancient Africa,

'Torso with Snakes' by Djenne Artist, Mali

Art of Central Africa,

'Scepter' by Kongo Artist, Yombe Region, Democratic Republic of Congo

Celebrating Women,

'Mami Wata Figure' by Igbo Artist, Nigeria

Contemporary Art,

'Bus Ride' by Kay Hassan

Decorative Arts,

'Elephant Headdress' by Bamileke Artist, Cameroon

Educating and Healing,

'Mask' by Pende Artist, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Honoring Ancestors,

'Reliquary Guardian Figure' by Kota Artist, Gabon

Masquerade, Music, and Performance,

Bembe Artist, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Helmet Mask

Paired Figures,

'Male and Female D’mba Figures' by Baga Artist, Guinea

Acclaimed Artists,

'Ntan Drum' by Osei Bonsu, Asante Artist, Ghana

Yoruba Art,

'Crown of Obatala (Ade Obatala)' by Yoruba Artist, Nigeria