A few recent discoveries of long-lost works by Africa’s greatest contemporary artist, Ben Enwonwu, are leading to a reexamination of his legacy. How is it that the works of a man who in 1949 would be named Africa’s greatest contemporary artist by Time magazine, would decades later be gathering dust, long-forgotten in an apartment in London or in a family house in Texas?
At the height of his career in the 1940s to 1960s, he was a household name not only in Nigeria, but globally. For more than six decades, one of his bronze sculptures, Anyanwu/Awakening, has occupied a place of prominence in the lobby of the UN headquarters in New York. The bronze sculpture, inspired by the Igbo earth-goddess Ani, was a gift from the newly independent Nigeria in support of world peace and liberation of colonies. (Text and photo courtesyqz.com)