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Symmetrical Reduced Black Narrow-Necked Tall Piece

Magdalene Anyango N. Odundo

Arts of Africa

While these works appear quite different on the surface, both are made from the same material, terracotta. They were also created through very similar techniques, in which the artist built up the form from thin coils of clay to produce a hollow vessel that could be further sculpted and fired.

The head from the Nok culture is an archaeological fragment, possibly once part of a full figure. One of the oldest pieces in the African collection, it was found at one of the earliest known iron-smelting sites in Africa.

Magdalene Odundo, a contemporary artist drawing on the global history of pottery, used an understated anthropomorphic vocabulary to create this abstract, burnished vessel that evokes the female form. Odundo achieved the black, smoky finish by covering her pots with a clay slip and firing them in a closed kiln with combustible materials such as wood chips.

Since pottery has long been associated with women’s work across the African continent, some scholars have speculated that female artists created the ancient Nok statuary. It is thus possible that the two works displayed here—among the African collection's oldest and newest, respectively—may both be by women artists.
MEDIUM Terracotta
DATES 1990
DIMENSIONS 16 x 10 x 10 in. (40.6 x 25.4 x 25.4 cm)  (show scale)
SIGNATURE Signed and dated on base
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Purchased with funds given by Dr. and Mrs. Sidney Clyman and Frank L. Babbott Fund
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CAPTION Magdalene Anyango N. Odundo (British, born Kenya 1950). Symmetrical Reduced Black Narrow-Necked Tall Piece, 1990. Terracotta, 16 x 10 x 10 in. (40.6 x 25.4 x 25.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased with funds given by Dr. and Mrs. Sidney Clyman and Frank L. Babbott Fund, 1991.26. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1991.26_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 1991.26_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Black narrow-necked, symmentrical vessel made in 1990 by Magdalene Anyango N. Odundo who was born in Nairobi, Kenya (Luo, b.1950). Hand built vessel finished with a burnished slip and reduction-fired in a saggar to give a variegated black and orange-red surface. Condition: Excellent.
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