Art and Power in the Central African Savanna

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This exhibition explores the political and religious power of nearly 60 sculptures created by artists of four Central African cultures: the Luba, Songye, Chokwe, and Luluwa. Carved primarily from wood, these power figures act as containers for magical organic ingredients and serve purposes both religious and political. According to traditional beliefs, the figures mediate between the human and spirit worlds to insure a healthy birth, successful hunt, or triumph over an enemy. A fully-illustrated catalogue by leading expert Constantine Pedridis accompanies the exhibition.

This is the exhibition’s third and final presentation before being disbanded and returned to major lending institutions and private collections in Europe and the United States.


Art and Power in the Central African Savanna is organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art. The San Francisco presentation is made possible by James and Patricia Ludwig, Bob Wall and Margaret Rinkevich, Lauren L. T. Hall and David Hearth, Charles and Diane Frankel, Klaus and Ellen Werner, and Mr. and Mrs. Edward M. Smith.

Currently on view