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"Warriors and Mothers: Epic Mbembe Art"

The exhibition "Warriors and Mothers: Epic Mbembe Art" is filled with a lot
of history and for the first time, it's possible to experience these Mbembe wood sculptures in New York.

By Line Krogh

Seated Mother and Child in "Warriors and Mothers: Epic Mbembe Art." Photos by Line Krogh.

From December 9, 2014 to September 7, 2015 the Metropolitan Museum of Art is presenting “Warriors and Mothers: Epic Mbembe Art” created by unknown artists in the Ewayoñ River region, Cross River province (Mbembe) in southeastern Nigeria in Africa. The exhibition includes some very unique and historic wood sculptures created by artists active in Africa between the 17th and 18th centuries. In that respect, they are estimated to be 300 years old and are therefore among the earliest and most extraordinarily dramatic visual wood creations preserved from Africa.

The Mbembe sculptures illustrate seated female mothers nurturing infants and aggressive male warrior figures that originally were an integral part of spiritual ceremonies placed in the heart of the Mbembe communities.


Seated figures in "Warriors and Mothers: Epic Mbembe Art." Photo by Line Krogh.

The first time these seated sculptures were shown was at a gallery in Paris back in 1974, where they after a short time caught a lot of attention in the art world. The exhibition was groundbreaking and revolutionary because it revealed a tradition unlike what had been seen in African art before. The exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they have collected loans of Mbembe sculptures from European and American gallery collections, is simlary groundbraking. It's the first time these sculptures are being seen in New York.

You can see the exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Avenue, New York 10028, where it is located at the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, first floor from December 9, 2014 to September 7, 2015. For more information visit: General admission is $25.

Line Krogh, from Denmark, is Assistant Editor of Curator's Choice.


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