Nigerian sculptor and textile artist. He started out as a bricklayer and received no formal training. One of his earliest commissions was for 12 cement pieces for Ulli Beier’s Mbari-Mbayo Club at Oshogbo. He exhibited internationally in the 1960s and 1970s and is best known for his public pieces, such as openwork cement screens based on Yoruba doors (...
Bolaji V. Campbell
Pamela Elizabeth Grimaud
French fashion designer, of Tunisian birth. Alaïa is renowned for his ‘second skin’ fashions and masterful cutting techniques (see fig.). Christened the ‘King of Cling’ by fashion journalists, Alaïa rose to prominence in the 1980s following years of realizing commissions for a loyal and select clientele. His designs are modern, overtly feminine in their celebration of the female form and, in Alaïa’s own words: ‘not sexy, voluptuous’. Alaïa’s sculpted fashions have been known to render other designers’ fashions unwearable—they simply feel too large in comparison....
Egyptian, 20th – 21st century, female.
Active in the USA.
Born 1963, in Cairo.
Ghada Amer grew up in Paris. She studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Nice before travelling to the USA where she attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She lives and works in both New York and Paris. In 2005 she was Artist in Residence at Kansas City Art Institute....
American painter, sculptor, fibre and installation artist of Egyptian birth. Amer, one of the few young artists of African origin to gain prominence in the late 1990s international art scene, studied painting in France at the Villa Arson EPIAR, Nice (MFA, 1989), and the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Art Plastique, Paris (...
Unwoven cloth made from the bast (inner bark) of a tree. It is also known as ‘tapa’, with reference to the Polynesian bark cloth made from the bark of the paper mulberry and used for clothing. There is a huge collection of Polynesian bark cloth in the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu. In sub-Saharan Africa bark cloth was traditionally decorated with free-hand painting applied with grass brushes, and was used for room-dividers and screens as well as clothing. Its widest application was in Japan, where bark cloth was used for windows, screens, kites, flags and umbrellas....
South African, 20th–21st century, male.
Active in France.
Born 11 August 1962, in Johannesburg.
Printmaker, choreographer, performance artist. Identity politics.
Steven Cohen was the first South African artist under apartheid to create confrontational performance art engaging with sexual and cultural identity. He began his career in the 1980s, while conscripted into the South African army, when he went absent without leave and learnt how to screenprint at Cape Town’s Ruth Prowse School of Art....
Greek fashion designer based in Paris. Dessès was born in Egypt to Greek parents and arrived in Paris in the 1920s to study law and diplomacy. By 1925 he had changed his mind and was employed as a designer for Maison Jane. He left Maison Jane to open his own couture house in ...
Egyptian city c. 55 km south of Luxor on the Nile. Inhabited since ancient times, Esna remains important as the terminus of one of the main caravan routes between Egypt and the Sudan, and as a centre of textile production. The only ancient building to survive is part of the Greco-Roman Temple of Khnum, but Deir Manayus wa Shuhada (the ‘Monastery of the Martyrs’), a 4th-century ...
Coarse cloth made with a cotton weft and a flax warp, first made in Egypt in the 2nd century
Beth Dincuff Charleston
American fashion designer. Few designers have managed to be as influential as Norma Kamali without extensive press coverage. Specializing in ready-to-wear garments, Kamali introduced the world to the concepts of high-heeled sneakers and mix-and-match bikinis, originated the ‘sleeping bag’ coat and was the first designer to see the wide sartorial possibilities of both sweatshirt jersey and parachute silk (...
South African, 21st century, collective of mostly women.
Needlework, painting, printmaking, ceramics. Local histories and scenes.
Established in 2000 by Carol Hofmeyr, an artist and medical doctor, the Keiskamma Art Project is intended to provide income-generating opportunities to isiXhosa-speakers in Hamburg and the surrounding villages of Bodium and Ntilini in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, while also enabling participants to use representation to engage with issues of relevance to their communities. Although members sometimes work individually on small-scale embroideries, items in felt, beaded objects, small prints, or ceramics, the project is best known for large-scale works in needlework, which its members work on collectively and which are parodies of well-known art objects from the West....
Togolese, 20th – 21st century, male.
Active in Germany.
Born 1950, in Pedakondji.
Painter, sculptor, engraver. Murals.
El Loko trained at first as a textile designer in Accra from 1965 to 1968, and then in graphic arts at Düsseldorf's Staatliche Kunstakademie alongside Beuys, Crummenauer and Heerich. He lived and worked in Duisburg in Germany and in Pedakondji in Togo....
Christine Mullen Kreamer
Togolese painter, printmaker and sculptor, active in Germany. He trained as a textile designer in Accra and Tema, Ghana, before moving to Germany in the early 1970s. He studied fine arts at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie with Beuys, Crummenauer and Heerich. His work includes a number of linoleum cuts in which birds’ wings, claws and beaks are combined with masks, faces and other elements in striking compositions. More recent mixed-media paintings and prints juxtapose images and abstract shapes executed in earthen tones. In works on paper and wooden sculpture dating from the early 1990s, sand and earthen pigments are combined to create texture and a sense of movement and depth. Many of his works are abstract colour fields composed of striking red-orange, yellow ochre and slate blue tones that outline geometric forms and, at times, stylized faces of partial humans. Eyes, crown, conical human heads and projecting horns are familiar elements, as is a mottled surface pattern. These same qualities are repeated in wooden sculptures, some exploring curvilinear and geometric volumes of the human form, others creating more two-dimensional, openwork, geometric patterns in sculptures that resemble commemorative or totemic wooden posts. El Loko has had numerous one-man exhibitions, primarily in Germany, and group shows in Germany, Switzerland, England, Togo, Ghana and the USA....
South African, late 20th–21st century, collective of women.
Winterveld, South Africa.
Embroidered panels, cushion covers, and bags. Media stories and local scenes.
Mapula (meaning ‘mother of rain’ in Tsonga) is a self-help embroidery project in the Winterveld, a peri-urban area about 40 kilometres north-west of Pretoria in South Africa. Operating in a classroom in the DWT Nthathe Adult Education Centre run by the Sisters of Mercy, it is supported by the women’s organisation Soroptomists International. In ...
South African printmaker and textile designer. His interest in art and design was fostered when he was in Ceza Mission Hospital with tuberculosis in the early 1960s. The Swedish textile designer Peder Gowenius was teaching art and craft at the hospital as a therapy for the patients; he taught Mbatha the technique of linocut. In ...
Robert S. Bianchi
Artificially preserved human and animal remains. Mummification was practised in Egypt from the Early Dynastic period (c. 2925–c. 2575
South African, 20th century, female.
Born 10 December 1939, at Ekuhlengeni Mission, near Vryheid, Natal (KwaZulu-Natal).
Allina Ndebele grew up at Ekuhlengeni Mission near Vryheid, in the Zulu heartland of what is now KwaZulu-Natal. She attended various mission schools in the region, finishing at Maria Ratchitz in ...
South African, 20th century, male.
Born 1943, in Hlabisa area, Natal (KwaZulu-Natal); died 2007.
Reuben Ndwandwe lived in the Hlabisa area of KwaZulu-Natal. He was taught to weave at the Mahashini Primary School under the apartheid regime, when such crafts were compulsory for black students. In pre-industrial South Africa, most basket weaving was done by men. By the early 20th century, due to the migrant labour system and the availability of plastic and metal containers, this activity had all but died out. In the 1950s, missionary organisations supported a revival of the craft in KwaZulu-Natal as a means to economic upliftment, especially for women. Ndwandwe was encouraged to pursue basket weaving during a long convalescence in hospital. He was one of the few men pursuing the craft in the second half of the 20th century and was renowned for his immaculately woven lidded baskets with intricate over-weaving and subtle colours....
Kwa-speaking people, numbering some 400,000, living in Niger State, Nigeria, along the banks of the Niger River, and forming part of the Middle Belt. They are well known for their textiles, brasswork and wood-carving, though Nupe craftsmen and women have also worked in glass, pottery and a variety of other materials. Many museums with African holdings have examples of Nupe art. The ...
French fashion designer ( see fig. ). In the late 20th century, few fashion designers could match Saint Laurent’s versatility, flawless sense of proportion and painterly gift for colour. From his six seasons as head designer at the house of Dior to his forty-year career at his own house, Saint Laurent safeguarded the standards of the Paris couture. Beginning in ...