From the Desert's Edge : Sculpture from Mali

June 26 - July 31, 2020

We opened From the Desert’s Edge: Art from Mali, just as a global pandemic erupted.  For our inaugural online viewing room we present highlights from this exhibition to enjoy from the comfort of your home. While we cannot replicate the experience of seeing these works in person, we hope to get as close to that as possible. We are at your disposal for any questions you may have.






Since the beginning of my passion for African art, Mali has fascinated me. It is a country dense with history. It was once part of the great Soninke (750-1240 CE), Mali (1240-1670 CE) and Songhai (15th-16th centuries) empires. It is home to the fabled cities of Timbuktu and Djenné, centers of learning and trade, and was home to Mansa Musa the richest king of the Middle Ages. Mali is a land of breathtaking beauty and magnificent art.


The Dogon people live along the Bandiagara enscarpment in the Mopti region of Mali. Dogon art is created for religious purposes to be placed in shrines or to be used in rituals.  Villages and the countryside are full of altars, hunter's shrines and sacred earthen mounds. 


Wood sculptures are placed on a variety of altars most of which are dedicated to ancestors, real or mythical. Each family possesses altars containing figurative sculpture dedicated to the founders of the clan and its subsequent members. While figures are kept in sanctuaries well away from sight, masks are seen in great numbers at publicly performed dances, rituals and funerals. Masks represent animals, birds, human, objects and abstract concepts. 


Dogon art is intensely lyrical and evocative. Formally it ranges from angular volumes to organic shapes. It captures the harshness of the environment and the beauty of its people. 


-Carlo Bella