Mumuye Figure

Piece of the Week
October 13, 2021
Mumuye Figure turned to the left
Mumuye Figure


In our Piece of the Week series, Director Carlo Bella discusses a highlight from our current exhibition. Today we highlight a Mumuye Figure from Eastern Nigeria.


For more information about this piece, please click here. 


Transcript of the video:

Hello. I’m Carlo Bella, Director of Pace African and Oceanic Art in New York. Among the pieces featured in our exhibition, today I would like to present a Mumuye sculpture.

The Mumuye are a people that live in Eastern Nigeria and their sculpture appeared on Western markets only in the late 60s and early 70s. Within an accepted and very recognizable sculptural canon, Mumuye sculpture offers great diversity. Generally speaking these are cylindrical sculptures in which the whole is more important than the single part. Each body part, in fact, is an abstract shape. In this case the oval, compressed head is characterized by eyes, a pierced nose and an open screaming mouth and carefully executed scarification. This front neck supports the head and connects with the cylindrical torso. Abstract ribbon-like arms issue from the powerful shoulders and the whole sculpture terminates with shortened legs.

Mumuye art gives the impression of modernity, and as I said the whole is generally speaking more important than the sum of the parts, of the parts. The oldest sculpture tend to lean on one side or in the front, and this accentuated their sense of dynamic movement.

Thank you.