The Art of Africa

Discover the diverse arts of Africa from select cultures and time periods on the world’s second largest continent.


paa joe
Paa Joe created large-scale, painted wood sculptures that represent architectural models of Gold Coast castles and forts, which served as way stations for more than six million Africans sold into slavery and sent to the Americas and the Caribbean between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Paa Joe: Gates of No Return


mama wata
This large sculpture was made for Mami Wata, pidgin English for “Mother of Water," a charismatic being of great spiritual power celebrated in West and Central Africa and reimagined as deities such as La Sirene (Haitian Vodou) and Yemanjá (Candomblé and Umbanda) in Afro-Atlantic spiritual traditions.

“Mami Wata” figure, Igbo artist










Timbuktu was an intellectual and spiritual capital and a center for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries

Timbuktu


Askia
This tomb bears testimony to the power and riches of the empire that flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries through its control of the trans-Saharan trade, notably in salt and gold

Tomb of Askia


Abu Mena
The church, baptistry, basilicas, public buildings, streets, monasteries, houses and workshops in this early Christian holy city were built over the tomb of the martyr Menas of Alexandria, who died in 296 C.E

Abu Mena


wassu grid
The site consists of four large groups of stone circles that represent an extraordinary concentration of over 1,000 monuments

Stone circles of Senegambia



Aksumite coins
The ruins of the ancient city of Aksum are found close to Ethiopia's northern border.

City of Aksum


Loropeni grid
with its imposing stone walls, Loropéni is the best preserved of ten fortresses in the Lobi area and is part of a larger group of 100 stone enclosures that bear testimony to the power of the trans-Saharan gold trade

Ruins of Loropéni


abomey
From 1625 to 1900, 12 kings succeeded one another at the head of the powerful Kingdom of Abomey (in Benin)—and they built palaces.

Royal palaces of Abomey