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Rebecca Martin Nagy

Ethiopian artist, was born in Ankober in Shewa Province, Ethiopia. As a young student Afewerk excelled in mathematics and draftsmanship. Recognizing these talents, the government of Emperor Haile Selassie provided a scholarship in 1947 for Afewerk to study mining engineering in England. Showing great promise as a visual artist, Afewerk soon received the emperor’s permission to transfer to London’s Central School of Arts and Crafts. Subsequently, he attended the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. While studying there, he made several trips to the European continent to see and experience works of art firsthand.

Afewerk’s first solo exhibition of paintings in Addis Ababa, held at Municipality Hall in 1954 was not universally well received In particular an abstract interpretation of the Crucifixion inspired by European modernism now in the National Museum of Ethiopia was the subject of debate and controversy in a city with a centuries old ...

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Baye Yimam

Ethiopian painter, diplomat, customs director, entrepreneur, linguist, university professor, and novelist, was born in Zage, Gojjam province of Ethiopia, on 10 July 1868. His father, Gebre Iyesus Denke, was a priest serving a local church, and his mother, Fenta Tehun Adego Ayechew, was presumably a housewife. In Zage, then a center of learning, Afewerq learned the painting, poetry, church music, and liturgical dancing of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian tradition.

Afewerq was related to Empress Taytu Betul, wife of Emperor Menilek (1844–1913 on account of which he was brought to the palace to continue what he had started in Zage He was later sent to Italy to further his studies at the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti in Turin Upon his return from Italy he began to produce mural paintings by order of the palace and decorated the churches at Entotto then the capital city However he soon ...

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Rebecca Martin Nagy

Ethiopian artist, was born in the Gondar Administrative Region of Ethiopia in 1905. Another form of his name is Agegnehu Engeda. Although relatively little is known about his life and work, Agegnehu’s role as a pioneer among twentieth-century Ethiopian painters is noteworthy. At a time when the only opportunity for higher learning in Ethiopia was in church schools and the only training available to aspiring painters was through apprenticeship to church artists, the young Agegnehu Engida was sent to Paris to study painting at the École des Beaux-Arts from 1926 to 1933. According to Ladislas Farago, who interviewed Agegnehu in his home in Addis Ababa soon after the artist’s return from France, Agegnehu’s artistic abilities had been recognized by Haile Selassie, who arranged for him to study abroad. In 1926 Ras Tafari Mekonnen the future Emperor Haile Selassie was regent to Empress Zawditu and heir apparent to ...

Article

Emad Abdul-Latif

Egyptian poet, critic, broadcaster, painter, and physician, was born in the al-Hanafy district in Cairo. His father, Muhammad Abu Shadi, was the head of the Egyptian Bar Association and his mother, Amina Naguib, was a poetess. He completed his primary and secondary education in Cairo and was involved in antioccupation activities during his adolescence. He joined the faculty of medicine (named Qasr al-Aini) and then traveled to London in 1912 to complete his studies in medicine at the University of London where he obtained a certificate of honor from Saint George Hospital in 1915. He married a British woman and lived with her in Egypt until her death in 1945. Following his return to Egypt in 1922, he served in many governmental posts in such places as the Ministry of Health and the Faculty of Medicine, Alexandria University. In 1946 he immigrated to the United States ...

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Marion Arnold

South African sculptor and multimedia artist, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her father’s family emigrated from Germany (her paternal grandfather was Jewish). She studied at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, graduating with a bachelor of fine arts degree and the Martienssen Student Prize in 1982 and completing her masters degree in 1988. She taught English and art at schools in Namibia and Cape Town before joining the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, as a part-time lecturer in 1996. She holds a professorship in sculpture and is resident in Cape Town. An intensely private person, Alexander rarely gives interviews or explains her work verbally.

In 1986 Alexander gained attention with a solo exhibition in Johannesburg. It included Butcher Boys (1985–1986 a disquieting depiction of three white life size naturalistic figures seated on a bench These self absorbed beings possessing animal and ...

Article

Edmund Abaka

William Anton Amo (1703–1756), philosopher and educator, was an academic par excellence and a courtier in Germany at a time when there were very few, if any, Africans studying, let alone lecturing, in Europe. He was most likely the first black professor to teach in Germany. Amo’s achievements are all the more significant considering that they occurred about three centuries ago.

Amo was born in 1703 in a small village called Awukenu, near Axim, in the southwestern Gold Coast (now Ghana). The circumstances of Amo’s arrival in the Netherlands are not clear. One version indicates that in 1707 Amo s parents entrusted him to a Brunswick subject working for the Dutch West Indian Company on the Gold Coast By this time the Dutch had superseded the Portuguese and taken over the Portuguese fortified positions on the Gold Coast São Jorge da Mina Elmina São Sebastiao Shama and ...

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Robert D. Young

Arab-born Egyptian poet and calligrapher of the Ayyubid period, was born 27/28 February 1186 in Mecca. He is also known as al-Bahaʾ Zuhayr. He moved to Qus, in upper Egypt, at a young age. Zuhayr’s later diwans (a Persian term meaning “collection of poems”) indicate some recollection of his time in Mecca; he likely moved to Qus when he became old enough to attend school. Qus was then a center of Islamic learning and culture. Zuhayr studied the Qurʾan and Islamic literature but was most enthused by poetry. Zuhayr made friends with another poet and quoted substantially from the “ancient” poets such as Imru al-Qays (c. 501–544), some of whom were pre-Islamic.

Despite a fascination with poetry Zuhayr also cultivated his position among the political elite He dedicated his first praise poem to the governor of Qus Zuhayr did not stop with the locals traveling to places such as Damascus ...

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Nicholas J. Bridger

Yoruba wood sculptor, was born in 1910 in Osi-Ilorin, now in Kwara State, Nigeria. He was the son of Areogun of Osi-Ilorin (c. 1880–1954), a significant master woodcarver of the premodern tradition of the northeast area of Yorubaland. He acquired the name George when baptized Catholic as a child, although his father remained a practitioner of the local Yoruba religion. His name is referred to in recent sources as George Bamidele Arowoogun, the patronymic added as a surname. His close collaborator and patron for four decades, Father Kevin Carroll (1920–1993), always referred to him simply as “Bandele.”

Growing up in a successful carver s household Bandele became apprenticed in his teens to one of his father s former assistants Oshamuko also from Osi Ilorin one of a group of villages called collectively Opin which was within the Ekiti region Both his familial ancestry and his artistic lineage ...

Article

Imani Roach

Romare Bearden was a visual artist whose career spanned the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights era, and the culture wars of the 1980s. An accomplished painter, political cartoonist, and musician, he is best known for his collages and photomontages of everyday African American life. These rigorously controlled abstractions highlight the collective aspects of Bearden’s personal experience, and are as formally indebted to the Benin Bronzes and the jazz stylings of Bessie Smith as they are to the masters of the European canon.

Like many other Great Migration–era families, the Bearden’s moved, in 1914, from Bearden’s birthplace of Charlotte, North Carolina, to New York City. In the late 1910s and early 1920s, the Bearden household became a hub for thinkers, musicians, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance, from Duke Ellington and Countee Cullen to W. E. B. Du Bois and Langston Hughes This was only the ...

Article

Ghirmai Negash

avant-garde Eritrean novelist, playwright, and painter-cum-sculptor, was educated in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, from which he graduated in 1963 with a degree in public administration and political science. Beyene Haile lived in Addis Ababa until Eritrean independence. In 1992, he moved to Asmara, where he worked as a management consultant and trainer while still pursuing his artistic career.

Beyene Haile is the author of three Tigrinya-language novels and a play. His 1965 debut novel, Abiduʾdo Teblewo? Madness differs from conventional Tigrinya writing in at least three fundamental ways First it takes an intellectual and artist as its main character and tells his story with compelling force and narrative skill Wounded by life the central character of the novel a bohemian artist called Mezgebe uses his art to heal his wounds and those of others in a manner that borders on insanity Another ...

Article

Rebecca Martin Nagy

artist and educator, was born in Addis Ababa to an Ethiopian mother and an Armenian father who was a colonel in the Imperial Body Guard of Haile Selassie. Boghossian received early art training at Tafari Makonnen Secondary School and in private lessons with Stanislas Chojnacki, a historian of Ethiopian art and water-colorist, then librarian at the University College of Addis Ababa (later Haile Selassie I University and now Addis Ababa University), and with Jacques Godbout, a Canadian writer, filmmaker, and painter who taught French at the University College.

In 1955 Boghossian won second prize at an art exhibition held as part of Haile Selassie s Jubilee Anniversary Celebration and was awarded an imperial scholarship to study in London After attending classes at St Martin s School the Central School and the Slade School of Fine Art in London the young artist decided to transfer his studies to Paris where ...

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Hilary Jones

missionary, parish priest, and religious educator, was born in Senegal on 16 April 1814, the same day that Napoleon Bonaparte left France for exile on the Island of Elba. Two years later Britain ended its occupation of Senegal and returned the fortified island territories of Gorée and Saint-Louis to France. The island of Saint-Louis du Sénégal, founded by France in 1659 as a strategic site in the period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, gained a reputation as a cosmopolitan Atlantic port city shaped by patterns of intermarriage between African women (Signares) and European administrators, merchants, and soldiers. The son of Marie Monté, a “free mulâtresse,” and Pierre Boilat, member of the merchant marines, David Boilat came from the small but growing class of mixed race inhabitants who closely identified with the Catholic Church and sought the privileges of French education despite their relative isolation from French culture.

In 1816 ...

Article

Christopher Tiné

Not much is known about Frédéric-Bruly Bouabré’s early life. He was raised in the Daloa department of western Côte d’Ivoire, and the local Kru culture and community were an important part of his childhood. In 1948, when Bouabré was twenty-four, the as yet undistinguished young man had a celestial vision in Dakar. According to Bouabré, the heavens opened themselves to him and he understood that he was to use his artistic talent to maintain and share the culture of his people, which is rooted in nature and folklore. After his vision Bouabré considered himself reborn as Cheik Nadro, or “he who does not forget,” and has devoted his life to his drawing and other creative projects.

Bouabré s drawings often form a series They are generally small and rectangular and have a border of narrative text around them In this regard many of his drawings strongly ...

Article

Kennedy A. Walibora Waliaula

South African painter, writer, poet, and antiapartheid activist, was born in Bonnievale in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The third-born child in a family of five (four sons, and one daughter), Breytenbach was a twin, although his twin died at infancy. The Breytenbachs descended from the lineage of one Coenrad Breytenbach, a military officer of lower rank who arrived in South Africa from Europe in 1656 It is unclear whether Coenrad Breytenbach was Dutch or whether he had other European origins On the maternal side Breyten Breytenbach descended from the Cloetes of France However he would often downplay his European origins stressing instead his ties to Africa Two of his brothers were prominent figures in South Africa and had strong associations with the apartheid system Jan was a senior military officer while Cloete was a famous photojournalist Breytenbach s opposition to apartheid and Afrikanerdom made him something of a ...

Article

Joyce Youmans

a Nigerian sculptor, was born in Buguma, Nigeria, the principal settlement of the Kalabari people in the eastern Niger Delta region. She moved to England as a teenager, where she was raised by her brother-in-law, the anthropologist Robin Horton. From 1979 to 1980 she attended the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. She then returned to England and enrolled at the Central School of Art and Design in London where she earned a bachelor’s degree (with honors) in 1983. While an undergraduate, she received the Amy Sadur Friedlander Prize (1981) and the Saatchi & Saatchi Award (1982). In 1983 Camp was awarded the Princess of Wales Memorial Scholarship and the coveted Henry Moore Bursary at the Royal College of Art in London. She graduated from the Royal College in 1986 with a master’s degree in sculpture.

Camp received additional education in Nigeria where ...

Article

Darren Newbury

South African photographer, was born Ernest Levi Tsoloane Kole on 21 March 1940 in Eersterust, a township on the outskirts of Pretoria. He was the fourth of six children. His father had migrated from a rural area and worked as a tailor; his mother was a laundress for white families in Pretoria. His early life was shaped by apartheid. He left school shortly after the introduction of the Bantu Education Act (1953), which severely restricted the educational opportunities of black South Africans, continuing his education by correspondence through Wolsey Hall, Oxford. In 1960, his family was forced to relocate to the new black township of Mamelodi when Eersterust was declared a Coloured area under the Group Areas Act (1950).

Cole s interest in photography began at a young age He was given his first camera by a Catholic priest and by his early teenage years ...

Article

Linda M. Carter

missionary and founding father of the state of Liberia, was born in Hicksford, Greensville County, Virginia, the elder son of John Day Sr., an affluent furniture maker, farmer, and landowner, and Mourning Stewart Day. The Days were free African Americans, and Day's father, as early as the 1789 election, was accorded voting status.

In an era when formal education for African Americans was rare, Day reaped the benefits of being the offspring of two prominent families. His father arranged for him to board in Edward Whitehorne's home, and Day, along with the Whitehorne children, attended Jonathan Bailey's school. While residing with the family, Day received some level of religious instruction from Whitehorne. In 1807 Day's father, who had been residing in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, purchased a plantation in Sussex County, Virginia, near the Whitehorne residence, and Day then attended William Northcross's school.

At the age of nineteen ...

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Mary (Polly) Nooter Roberts

Senegalese visual artist, was born in a rural Senegalese town in 1954 and moved to Dakar in 1973, where he received a degree in fine arts from the National Institute of the Arts of Senegal and his baccalaureate in 1979. He also earned a four-year degree in arts education from the National School of Art Education. Diba was then awarded a scholarship to pursue a doctorate in urban geography at the University of Nice, where he wrote a dissertation comparing human impact on the environments of Dakar and Nice. Since 1986 Diba has been a professor of visual arts at the National School of Art Education in Dakar and has served as president of the Senegalese National Association of Visual Arts He was one of the founders of Dak Art the Biennial of Contemporary African Art and serves on its Scientific Commission Diba has been instrumental in ...

Article

Darren Newbury

photographer, was born on 17 May 1874 in Innishannon, County Cork, Ireland, the son of a resident magistrate. Educated at Mount Saint Mary’s College, a Jesuit school in Derbyshire, England, as a young man he began training for the priesthood. In 1897, however, he had a change of heart and left for South Africa, finding work as a compound guard on the diamond mines of the De Beers Company in Kimberley. He later worked in the dispensary of the compound hospital and the copy room at the company’s head office, as well as serving in both the Anglo-Boer War and World War I.

It was on a return trip to Europe in 1904 that he became interested in photography buying a simple box camera and making his first photographs in Madeira He soon mastered the technical side of the medium and became a keen amateur photographing scenery botany ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Togolese painter, was born in the city of Tsévié in present day Togo, in 1955. He began to publically display his art at the age of nineteen, when he participated in an art show of works from his secondary school. His parents did not support his decision to make art a career. He attended the University of Togo in the nation’s capital of Lomé, where he studied philosophy and also spoke out about social problems in contemporary Africa. In 1986 Edorh exhibited paintings at his university that featured kings devouring people while crowds around them shouted, “Long live the king!” It was a daring move to be so audacious during the dictatorship of Eyadema Gnassingbe, but Edorh did not face political problems as a result. He then attended the École des Beaux-Arts in the French city of Bordeaux for several years, but returned to Africa.

His early artistic work ...