For many of us, the name Ekpo Eyo has come to stand for excellence and erudition. The first Director-General of the Nigerian Commission for Museums and Monuments, has produced several articles and books of the highest quality on Nigerian art, and his recent book, From Shrines to Showcases: Masterpieces of Nigerian Art, (2010, Federal Ministry of Information and Communication, Abuja) is no exception. It is a masterpiece in its own right.

After an introduction to Nigerian art that gives the historical background of the arts and archaeological art, the introduction deals with accounts of discoveries and examines issues in the preservation and conserving of Nigerian cultural heritage. I enjoyed thoroughly Eyo’s discussion on what art is and the early Western views of African art as well as the topic of primitivism, tribality and universalism:“What is a work of art and how does one know when seeing one? There are certain concepts in the world that are difficult to define and art is certainly one of them. This is clear from the study of the global history of art because what may be regarded as art in one society may not be so regarded in another. Moreover, a particular definition of art may not be universally accepted even within the same community or scholarly field or local art scene.” (p.13) What distinguishes a work of art from a merely functional object is “The special attention to character and the lavishing of imagination on individual artworks, rather than mass produced items, was what became known as aesthetics – which was ill defined – but nonetheless was seized upon by connoisseurs of Western art as the criterion for good art.”.
read all plus images:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.