Traditional forms of Ife art

When one considered the sheer breadth and size of the African continent it is easy to see why so many unique and diverse forms of art originated there. Ancient, as well as modern black artists of Africa rely heavily on the natural resources found in their homes to produce their fascinating sculptures, textiles, and pottery. Like their surrounding neighbors, the Ife has long made excellent use of the materials graciously given to them by the environment. The result has been a long tradition of products of Ife art that depicts life in Western Africa.

Up to the present day Ife artists employ many of the same artistic methods as their ancestors. Fortunately for them and the world, many of the ancient artifacts are being used as blueprints for modern artists and their influence is tremendous in the current Ife society.

Ife art is a diverse collection of many different art forms. Ancient and modern artists of this region alike often use terra cotta clay, bronze, and granite in their work. Quartz is seen used to create primarily religious pieces. The people who attend or who have attended Ife school are well schooled in making use of the resources that surround their beautiful homeland.

Some of the traditional forms of Ife art are sculpture, statues, stools, and religious items. In the case of the sculptures and statues many different approaches were used to achieve the desired effect. In some cases, the sculptures represented kings and deities and were considered to be very stylized in design. The busts that have been found are unique in the fact that almost all of them were sculpted to the correct scale. In other words, the heads were roughly the same size as the head of the model and were made to be a portrait of sorts. Animals are another favorite subject in Ife art. Many statues and busts have been found that depict the African respect and dependence on the animal life of the region for their survival needs.

Among the more unique pieces of Ife art, are the huge monoliths created for what appears to have been ceremonial purposes. These enormous works of art are typically made from granite or clay. Quartz with its jewel like appearance found its way into a wide assortment of religious pieces. Some experts credit this use of unusual materials to the European influence in the region during the period of the 12th through the 17th centuries. Wherever this influence may have come from, the result was a collection of stunning examples of Ife art.

It is little wonder that a civilization as well constructed and rich in tradition as the Ife people created such amazing art. Each and every piece was and still is steeped the beliefs and values of their society. Ife art is a reflection of the diversity that is so often seen in the many countries and regions of Africa. Ife art, since its ancient contributions were discovered in the archeological digs, has been a defining force in a greater appreciation of all of the art forms this area has to offer.

Mr. Moyo Ogundipe has a Bachelors of Arts degree in Fine Art from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria and a Master of Fine Art degree in Painting from The Hoffberger School of Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, USA.

One of Africa’s most celebrated and renowned black artists, Mr. Ogundipe has exhibited extensively in Africa, Europe and the USA. His paintings have been described as hypnotic, colorful and densely patterned.

In 1996, Mr. Ogundipe was awarded the Pollock-Krasner Fellowship. And in 2005 he was invited to become a member of Africobra, an organization founded in the 1960s and whose membership comprises of distinguished African-American artists.

Find and buy paintings online from Moyo Ogundipe at