The Yale collection of art from Africa south of the Sahara had its beginnings with gifts of several textiles in 1937, and it now numbers some 1,000 objects in wood, metal, ivory, ceramic, and other materials. Major milestones in forming the collection occurred in 1954, with the acquisition of the Linton Collection of African Art, purchased for the Gallery by Mr. and Mrs. James M. Osborn, and in 2004, with the gift of the entire Charles B. Benenson collection of six hundred African objects. Concurrent with the 2004 gift, Mr. Benenson endowed the new position of the Frances and Benjamin Benenson Foundation Curator of African Art, and the Department of African Art at the Yale University Art Gallery was born.
The collection is strongest in ritual figures and masks from West and Central Africa. There are also several specialized collections, such as Christian crosses from Ethiopia and miniature masks from Liberia. Several ancient African civilizations are represented, including the Djenne, Nok, Koma, Sapi, and Benin. Some of the outstanding objects: from the Sahel area, a Bamana wooden equestrian figure; from the Upper Guinea Coast, a Senufo figurative rhythm pounder and a Temne bush cow mask; from the Lower Guinea Coast, an elaborate Ejagham skin-covered headdress and a Fante appliquéd banner; from Central Africa, a Luba female figure with bowl and a Fang female reliquary figure; and from southern Africa, an elegant Zulu stool.
||Frederick John Lamp
Frederick John Lamp, the Frances and Benjamin Benenson Foundation Curator of African Art, holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale (1982). From 1981 to 2003, he was a curator at The Baltimore Museum of Art and taught at Johns Hopkins University and Maryland Institute College of Art. He has conducted field research in Sierra Leone and Guinea. His publications include See the Music, Hear the Dance: Rethinking Africa at The Baltimore Museum of Art, Art of the Baga: A Drama of Cultural Reinvention, and numerous articles. Download
Bassani, Ezio and William B. Fagg. Africa and the Renaissance: Art in Ivory. New York and Munich: The Center for African Art and Prestel-Verlag, 1988.
Ezra, Kate. African Ivories. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1984.
Goldwater, Robert. Senufo Sculpture from West Africa. New York: Museum for Primitive Art, 1964.
Lamp, Frederick John. Art of the Baga: A Drama of Cultural Reinvention. New York: The Museum for African Art, 1996.
Matheson, Susan, ed. Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin: African Art at Yale. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2005.
Rubin, William. "Primitivism" in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1984.
Thompson, Jerry L. and Susan Vogel. Closeup: Lessons in the Art of Seeing African Sculpture from an American Collection and the Horstmann Collection. New York: The Center for African Art, 1991.
Vogel, Susan. Africa Explores: 20th Century African Art. New York: Center for African Art, 1991.
Vogel, Susan. Baule: Africa Art Western Eye. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1997.
Walker, Roslyn A. African Women / African Art: An Exhibition of African Art Illustrating the Different Roles of Women in African Society . New York: The African-American Institute, 1976
Weber, Joanna, ed. Call and Response: Journeys in African Art . New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2000.
Lamp, Frederick John. "Charles Benenson and His Legacy of African Art to Yale." Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2004.