Skip Navigation

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
RIGHTS STATEMENT © Magdalene Anyango N. Odundo
The Brooklyn Museum holds a non-exclusive license to reproduce images of this work of art from the rights holder named here. The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act. For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact If you wish to contact the rights holder for this work, please email and we will assist if we can.
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. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: , 1991.26_PS9.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 1991.26_PS9.jpg., 2019
"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.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.