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New Exhibit: Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria

Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, NigeriaChief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria opened Sept 17. This major exhibition showcases the photographs of Chief Solomon Osagie Alonge (1911–1994), one of Nigeria’s premier photographers and the first official photographer to the Royal Court of Benin. Alonge’s historic photographs document the rituals, pageantry and regalia of the court for more than a half-century and provide rare insight into the early history and practice of studio photography in West Africa.

Solomon Osagie Alonge (1911–1994) is one of Nigeria’s premiere photographers and the first official photographer of the royal court of Benin, Nigeria. His work spans half-century and presents a dynamic continuous record of the reigns of Oba Akenzua II (1933–78) and Oba Erediauwa (1979–present) and the political and social events surrounding the royal palace. For five decades, Alonge photographed the royal wives and children, visiting dignitaries and politicians, and annual festivals and court ceremonies from a unique insider’s perspective.

Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue Opens November 9, 2014

Kepi in Bree Street

Nontsikelelo “Lolo” Veleko
born 1977, South Africa
Kepi in Bree Street
2006
From the Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder series
Digital print with pigment dyes on cotton paper
42 x 29 cm (16 9/16 x 11 7/16 in.)
National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, purchased with funds provided by the Annie Laurie Aitken Endowment, 2011-7-1.4
Photograph by Franko Khoury

One of the world’s preeminent private collections of African American art will have its first public viewing later this year at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue brings together artworks from two world-class collections: the National Museum of African Art and the William H. and Camille O. Cosby Collection. The exhibition, which opens at the museum Nov. 9 and remains on view through early 2016, is a major part of the museum’s 50th anniversary, celebrating its unique history and contributions toward furthering meaningful dialogue between Africa and the African diaspora.

Conversations presents selected pieces from the Cosby collection, including works by Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Beauford Delaney, Loïs Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Keith Morrison, Faith Ringgold, Augusta Savage, Henry Ossawa Tanner and Alma Thomas. With the exception of one work of art, the Cosby collection has never been loaned or seen publicly and only rarely and selectively published. These and other works of African American art are placed in thematic dialogue with African traditional works of art, including a Kongo female figure with child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a lidded bowl from Nigeria by the Yoruba master artist Olowe of Ise and a Nuna butterfly mask from Burkina Faso, and with modern and contemporary works of art by artists, including Fodé Camara from Senegal, Godfried Donkor from Ghana and William Kentridge from South Africa. The exhibition and its accompanying publication are organized to explore intersecting ideas about history, creativity, power, identity and artistry in ways that resonate with people the world over.