Available on JSTOR at: doi.org/10.2307/3336802

Abstract

The fifteen million Yoruba in Nigeria and the People's Republic of Benin are heirs to one of the oldest and richest artistic traditions in Africa. The ambitious new exhibition “Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought,” which opened September 20 at the Center for African Art in New York City, traces the history of Yoruba art and examines its underlying cultural concepts. Organized by the Center and curated by Henry John Drewal and John Pemberton III, the exhibition presents approximately 100 objects drawn from public and private collections in Africa, Europe, and the United States. Seventeen pieces are on loan from museums in Lagos and Ife; most of these have never before been seen in this country. After closing at the Center for African Art on January 7, 1990, the exhibition will begin a national tour that includes presentations at the Art Institute of Chicago (Feb. 10-April 1, 1990); the National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C. (May 8-Aug. 26, 1990); the Cleveland Museum of Art (Sept. 26-Dec. 9, 1990); the New Orleans Museum of Art (Jan. 11-Mar. 24, 1991); and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta (April 23-June 16, 1991). The essay that follows is an abbreviated version of the first chapter, titled “The Yoruba World,” of the exhibition catalogue written by Henry John Drewal, John Pemberton III, and Rowland Abiodun (Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought, The Center for African Art and Harry N. Abrams, New York: 256 pp., over 100 b/w & over 90 color photos. $65 cloth from Abrams, $38 paper from the Center for African Art). The number of illustrations has been reduced by more than half in the present text, and a few objects from other chapters in the book have been included. The extensive endnotes that elaborate discussions or refer to related literature have been omitted in this excerpted version.