The Language of Beauty in African Art

Edited by Constantine Petridis; With contributions by Yaelle Biro, Herbert M. Cole, Kassim Kone, Babatunde Lawal, Constantine Petridis, Wilfried van Damme, and Susan Mullin Vogel

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This ambitious publication centers indigenous perspectives on traditional artworks from Africa by focusing on the judgments and vocabularies of members of the communities who created and used them. It explores cross-cultural affinities spanning the African continent while respecting local contexts; it also documents an exhibition that is extraordinary in scope and scale. The project’s overriding goal is to reconsider Western evaluations of these arts in both aesthetic and financial terms. The volume features nearly 300 works from collections around the world and from the important holdings of the Art Institute of Chicago. Although it emphasizes the sculptural legacy of sub-Saharan cultures from West and Central Africa, it also includes examples of artistic traditions associated with eastern and southern Africa as well as textiles and objects designed for domestic, ritual, and decorative functions.

Constantine Petridis is chair and curator of arts of Africa at the Art Institute of Chicago.


Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX
(March 27–July 31, 2022)

Art Institute of Chicago
(November 20, 2022–February 27, 2023)


ISBN: 9780300260045
Publication Date: April 26, 2022
Publishing Partner: Distributed for the Art Institute of Chicago
368 pages, 9 x 12 3/4
315 color + 30 b/w illus.
Baule Monkeys

Bruno Claessens and Jean-Louis Danis; With a foreword by Su

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Central African Art between Heaven and Earth

Constantine Petridis

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Mothers and Children in the Arts of Africa

Herbert M. Cole

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Speaking of Objects

African Art at the Art Institute of Chicago

Edited by Constantine Petridis; With contributions by Marth

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