Bámigbóyè: A Master Sculptor of the Yorùbá Tradition


James Green
With Olúṣẹ̀yẹ Adéṣọlá, Anne Turner Gunnison, Efeoghene Igor, Will Rea, and Cathy Silverman

Bámigbóyè: A Master Sculptor of the Yorùbá Tradition is the first monograph dedicated to the 50-year career of the Nigerian artist Moshood Olúṣọmọ Bámigbóyè (ca. 1885–1975). Active in the early to mid-20th century, Bámigbóyè was one of a number of Yorùbá woodcarvers with workshops in southwestern Nigeria and is best known for the spectacular masks called Ẹpa that he carved for religious festivals in the region. Weighing up to 80 pounds and measuring over 4 feet tall, with intricate superstructures that could feature dozens of finely carved individual figures, these masks represent some of the most complex and elaborate works of Yorùbá art ever made. The catalogue accompanies a major international loan exhibition organized by the Yale University Art Gallery that reunites for the first time the masterworks attributed to Bámigbóyè’s workshop. With essays by leading scholars and the first published translation of Bámigbóyè’s full oríkì, or oral praise poem, recited by the artist’s family in honor of the exhibition, this book fills a critical void in art-historical scholarship. Bámigbóyè: A Master Sculptor of the Yorùbá Tradition is the definitive account of a man who was revered not only as a sculptor with local, courtly, and colonial patrons but also as a healer and figure of religious and political importance in his community.


2023 Silver Medal, Fine Art Books, Independent Publisher Book Awards