Women and art in Africa: A historical view

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Africa's art history provides examples of women who were artists, sources of inspiration for artists, patrons of the arts, and entrepreneurs who supported the arts. Several case studies highlight aspects of women's artistic practices on the African continent. The first investigates issues of identity tied to a female artist of the distant past, Helen of Alexandria. A second examines a depiction of Idia, the Iyoba of Benin, in a sixteenth-century artwork. The third, focused on a mask from a Mende community, examines female patronage. The last introduces Chief Afi Ekong, a major figure in midcentury Nigerian modernism, as a model for contemporary curators. A review of the media and techniques that have been associated with women emphasizes their contributions to African art and demonstrates that women in the past have laid the foundation for current artistic practices.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of African Women's Studies
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9783030280994
StatePublished - Oct 28 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021.


  • Africa
  • Architecture
  • Artists
  • Assemblage
  • Body
  • Calabash
  • Ceramicists
  • Curators
  • Egypt
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Galleries
  • Gender
  • Ghana
  • Identity
  • Installations
  • Iyoba
  • Liberia
  • Masquerades
  • Modernism
  • Murals
  • Nigeria
  • Nudes
  • Painting
  • Patrons
  • Photographers
  • Portraits
  • Sculptors
  • Sierra Leone
  • South Africa
  • Textiles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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