Modern African Art : A Basic Reading List


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Major Group Exhibitions
Western Africa
Central Africa
Southern Africa
Eastern Africa
Northern Africa
African Islands


This reading list is intended to dispel the notion that nothing has been published on modern African art. It consists primarily of books and exhibition catalogs. It does not include publications on individual artists, but one should be aware that there is a growing body of literature on individual African artists.* This reading list should be used as an entrée into the literature, as a point of departure into a much broader field. It should not be viewed in any way as comprehensive.

"Modern African art" here means academic artists, but it also embraces those who have not passed through the academy -- self-taught, street artists, workshop artists. Similarly, references to popular arts, including tourist arts, are not beyond the pale. However, it generally excludes contemporary craft producers, such as potters, basket weavers, jewelry makers and the like.

The arrangement is in three parts: (1) broad or general surveys, (2) major group exhibitions of modern African art, and (3) regional and country studies or exhibition catalogs; the regional sections are sub-divided by country. Book and exhibition reviews are also included, where available. The OCLC catalog record numbers are given. The call numbers are those of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries' National Museum of African Art Library.


* A separate bibliography is available on this topic: "African Artists: Bibliography of Artist's Monographs," compiled by Janet L. Stanley, National Museum of African Art Branch Library.