Chéri Samba

Musée national des Arts d'Afrique et d'Océanie

Paris likes to brag about being the capital of African art, ahead of London, Tokyo, and New York. African art flourishes on the Left Bank: there are antique shops on Rue de la Seine, and this summer brought shows of Ouattara at Gallerie Boulakia at the Rue Bonaparte and a combined photography and mask exhibit entitled “Les Dogons” on Rue des Beaux-Arts. The Musée National des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie recently showed 276 traditional pieces from Nigeria—a stunning exhibition including some of the most beautiful Igbo masks I have ever seen along with Benin, Yoruba, and Ogoni statutes and masks. Chéri Samba’s retrospective of thirty-eight works at the Paris museum could not have been better timed. Never mind the fact that the French have shut the doors to African immigration—an image often found in his narrative paintings. The artist is as popular as ever.

Since 1989, when he was included

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