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Ben Enwonwu

(1921—1994)


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Nigerian sculptor and painter, an Ibo born at Onitsha in Eastern Nigeria. His father was a carver of masks and traditional images for ceremonies and shrines. In 1944 he was awarded a scholarship to study in Britain and in 1947 he took a degree at the Slade School. Subsequently his work was widely exhibited in Britain, Africa, and the USA, and he won numerous distinctions, including the MBE in 1955. In 1947 he was appointed Art Supervisor by the Nigerian Government and in 1959 Art Adviser to the Federal Government. His public commissions include the bronze statue of Elizabeth II in front of the Federal Parliament, Lagos. Enwonwu's work unites the magical quality of traditional African art with an awareness of contemporary developments in Western art. In his more expressive work there are frequent reminiscences of traditional African tribal styles and in particular his own Ibo art.

From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.


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