Approx. 350 images
Embodiments: Masterworks of African Figurative Sculpture
Highlighting the unique, wide-ranging Richard H. Scheller Collection of figurative sculptures drawn from across sub-Saharan Africa, this book not only examines each distinctive piece, but also explores the ways that these figures functioned as embodied objects: each work of art was intended by its original creator to express social values, perform spiritual and ceremonial functions, and protect and symbolize its community.
Published on the occasion of the Scheller Collection’s first public exhibition, at the de Young in San Francisco, this catalogue presents 122 sculptures—all stunningly photographed in natural light—from more than 100 ethnic groups, 20 countries, and several centuries. Collected over the past 30 years, these works of art span styles from naturalistic to abstract to wholly idiosyncratic, and they include figures considered iconic in the canon of African art as well as sculptures that challenge the boundaries of that very canon.
Texts by leading scholars on each sculpture enhance readers’ understanding of the histories and formal qualities of sub-Saharan figurative art in its myriad manifestations and contribute essential new scholarship to the field. Essays on major examples contextualize the collection within the broader corpus of the subcontinent’s sculptural aesthetics. Rounding out the catalogue are essays on the scientific testing of the collection and the multifaceted issues involved in photographing African works of art.