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Ben Enwonwu MBE

Nigerian 1917-1994 

Ben Enwonwu was a Nigerian painter, sculptor, writer, and art critic from Onitsha. An artist from an early age, he learned his initial sculpting skills from his father, who was also a sculptor. Enwonwu studied fine arts in Nigeria before receiving a scholarship in 1944 to further his studies in the United Kingdom, where he attended Goldsmiths College and the Slade School of Fine Arts. The influence of this background is evident throughout Enwonwu’s oeuvre, as he combines European artistic techniques with traditional Nigerian and African aesthetics.

In 1948, Enwonwu returned to Nigeria and was appointed Art Supervisor of the Colonial Office. In 1955, he was awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to the arts. The following year, he became the first African artist to receive a royal commission when he was asked to create a sculpture of The Queen to sit outside of the Lagos Parliament Buildings. In 1968, he became the cultural advisor to the Nigerian Government (newly formed after the country’s independence from Britain in 1960). In 1980, the Nigerian Government awarded Enwonwu the National Order of Merit for his contribution to art within the country. This is just a small cross-section of Enwonwu’s significant participation in the arts and culture of Nigeria. Additionally, his art was used to support Black liberation movements in other parts of the world.

Enwonwu was a pioneer of African Modernism and arguably one of the most influential African artists of the 20th century. His work has been shown in exhibitions held at The Tate, London; the National Gallery of Modern Art Lagos, Nigeria; and The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC, USA.

1 lot offered      100.00% sold      ZAR 624 250

Including Premium and VAT Results include Buyer's Premium and VAT
Ben Enwonwu MBE; Path Through Trees
16 May 2023
Sold for ZAR 624 250
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT