Prince Twins Seven-Seven: His Art, His Life in Nigeria, His Exile in America

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Overview

Prince Twins Seven-Seven (1944-2011) was not only one of Africa's most famous contemporary artists and the leader of the Osogbo School of Nigerian artists, he was known as the modern master of the Yoruba tradition in art. His work has been exhibited on every continent, is collected by major museums throughout the world, and in 2005, Prince was named UNESCO Artist for Peace. Henry Glassie blends life and art to create a vivid portrait of an extraordinary artist. This lavishly illustrated book, part biography and part artist's catalog, addresses tradition and innovation in Prince’s art, the development of his personal style, the force of the supernatural in Nigerian life, and the hard times of the immigrant artist in the United States.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

"A product of extensive research presented in elegant sentences, beautifully illustrated, and professionally printed, this book gives ethnography a good name, confers respect on a fine scholar, and turns Prince Seven-Seven into a larger-than-life figure." —Choice

Historywire.com

"For Twins Seven-Seven afficionados or even general art lovers looking to broaden their horizons, this lush volume, chock full with stunning images, has the power to entrance." —Historywire.com

Choice

"A product of extensive research presented in elegant sentences, beautifully illustrated, and professionally printed, this book gives ethnography a good name, confers respect on a fine scholar, and turns Prince Seven-Seven into a larger-than-life figure." —Choice

Philip M. Peek

"Glassie has given us yet another finely wrought work of art about artists and their works." —Philip M. Peek, co-editor of African Folklore: An Encyclopedia

Doran H. Ross

"A compelling study of a contemporary African artist, this volume is wonderfully insightful and immensely readable." —Doran H. Ross, author of Wrapped in Pride

Henry John Drewal

"Henry Glassie has crafted a masterful account of the contradictions, complexities, and creativity that have characterized the turbulent life of a troubled and troublesome child—a child, according to his Yoruba family lore, 'born-to-die.' But true to his stubborn nature, he—Twins Seven-Seven—refused to depart and, with the aid of the 'goddess of sweet water,' Osun, stayed to stir things up with his remarkable artistry. With deep and sincere dedication and exquisite sensitivity, Henry Glassie helps us to know and understand this complicated man, his life, creative process, his passions and fears, his exile and return, and ultimately his 're-birth' as a royal prince and global artist. Just as Twins creates inert material objects that vibrate with life, so too Glassie offers us stunning insights into an artist’s rich imaginings." —Henry John Drewal, Author of Yoruba, Sacred Waters, and Mami Wata

Robert Farris Thompson

"What happens when one of Nigeria’s most powerful artists, Twins Seven-Seven, meets America’s most distinguished folklorist, Henry Glassie? You get an all-time masterpiece of cultural portraiture. Twins Seven-Seven reveals and recounts his life and his art and Glassie transmutes all this into analytic gold. There were times when I did not know whether to cry (over Twins’ career difficulties and the shock of Glassie being hospitalized in mid-book) or to shout (in celebration of the argument and its limitless beauty) but I can tell you this: I felt exalted at the end." —Robert Farris Thompson, Author of African Art in Motion

Roger D. Abrahams

"Prince Twins Seven-Seven is a propulsive artist in many media, and this Miltonic book about him gives us an intricate and fascinating study of a Yoruba Big Man as he puts his life together and replays it in story. The wonder of it all is that he explained it to his friend Henry Glassie, and Glassie explains it then for us. There is no better description in the ethnographic literature of political and personal ascendancy. Glassie takes great chances, just as Prince does, giving us the mythic and legendary details we need to relate this man to art and artists throughout the world." —Roger D. Abrahams, Author of A Singer and Her Songs, African Folktales, and Singing the Master

T. Falola

A product of extensive research presented in elegant sentences, beautifully illustrated, and professionally printed, this book gives ethnography a good name, confers respect on a fine scholar, and turns Prince Seven-Seven into a larger-than-life figure. Folklore scholar Glassie (emer., Indiana Univ.) captures this eccentric genius in his multiple locations and true colors. His book provides a careful analysis of the paintings of this successful artist, who grew from a humble beginning to international stardom. Glassie divides the paintings into three categories: art about spirits and deities; natural animals; and human experiences, broadly defined. The stamp is Yoruba idioms, forests, gods, and goddesses. In spellbinding images, readers confront ghosts and animals combined in contradictory ways, juxtaposed with abstract ideas. The artist is spiritual, bringing the unknown and the mythical to the senses, but with complicated lenses of interpretation. His world is imagined, unknowable, presented to us in forms to deal with our own strengths and weaknesses as humans. The jungle comes in all its mysteries, with power and powerlessness directly speaking to the viewer. Playful and serious at the same time, Prince provides personal stories that expose him in his real and naked form. Summing Up: Recommended. General, public, and academic collections. -- ChoiceT. Falola, University of Texas, October 2010

Journal of American Folklore

"This book is essential reading for students of culture and personality in folklore and anthropology and oral history and autobiography." —Journal of American Folklore

From the Publisher
"A compelling study of a contemporary African artist, this volume is wonderfully insightful and immensely readable." —Doran H. Ross, author of Wrapped in Pride

"Henry Glassie has crafted a masterful account of the contradictions, complexities, and creativity that have characterized the turbulent life of a troubled and troublesome child—a child, according to his Yoruba family lore, 'born-to-die.' But true to his stubborn nature, he—Twins Seven-Seven—refused to depart and, with the aid of the 'goddess of sweet water,' Osun, stayed to stir things up with his remarkable artistry. With deep and sincere dedication and exquisite sensitivity, Henry Glassie helps us to know and understand this complicated man, his life, creative process, his passions and fears, his exile and return, and ultimately his 're-birth' as a royal prince and global artist. Just as Twins creates inert material objects that vibrate with life, so too Glassie offers us stunning insights into an artist’s rich imaginings." —Henry John Drewal, Author of Yoruba, Sacred Waters, and Mami Wata

"Glassie has given us yet another finely wrought work of art about artists and their works." —Philip M. Peek, co-editor of African Folklore: An Encyclopedia

"What happens when one of Nigeria’s most powerful artists, Twins Seven-Seven, meets America’s most distinguished folklorist, Henry Glassie? You get an all-time masterpiece of cultural portraiture. Twins Seven-Seven reveals and recounts his life and his art and Glassie transmutes all this into analytic gold. There were times when I did not know whether to cry (over Twins’ career difficulties and the shock of Glassie being hospitalized in mid-book) or to shout (in celebration of the argument and its limitless beauty) but I can tell you this: I felt exalted at the end." —Robert Farris Thompson, Author of African Art in Motion

"This book is essential reading for students of culture and personality in folklore and anthropology and oral history and autobiography." —Journal of American Folklore

A product of extensive research presented in elegant sentences, beautifully illustrated, and professionally printed, this book gives ethnography a good name, confers respect on a fine scholar, and turns Prince Seven-Seven into a larger-than-life figure. Folklore scholar Glassie (emer., Indiana Univ.) captures this eccentric genius in his multiple locations and true colors. His book provides a careful analysis of the paintings of this successful artist, who grew from a humble beginning to international stardom. Glassie divides the paintings into three categories: art about spirits and deities; natural animals; and human experiences, broadly defined. The stamp is Yoruba idioms, forests, gods, and goddesses. In spellbinding images, readers confront ghosts and animals combined in contradictory ways, juxtaposed with abstract ideas. The artist is spiritual, bringing the unknown and the mythical to the senses, but with complicated lenses of interpretation. His world is imagined, unknowable, presented to us in forms to deal with our own strengths and weaknesses as humans. The jungle comes in all its mysteries, with power and powerlessness directly speaking to the viewer. Playful and serious at the same time, Prince provides personal stories that expose him in his real and naked form. Summing Up: Recommended. General, public, and academic collections. — ChoiceT. Falola, University of Texas, October 2010

"A product of extensive research presented in elegant sentences, beautifully illustrated, and professionally printed, this book gives ethnography a good name, confers respect on a fine scholar, and turns Prince Seven-Seven into a larger-than-life figure." —Choice

"Prince Twins Seven-Seven is a propulsive artist in many media, and this Miltonic book about him gives us an intricate and fascinating study of a Yoruba Big Man as he puts his life together and replays it in story. The wonder of it all is that he explained it to his friend Henry Glassie, and Glassie explains it then for us. There is no better description in the ethnographic literature of political and personal ascendancy. Glassie takes great chances, just as Prince does, giving us the mythic and legendary details we need to relate this man to art and artists throughout the world." —Roger D. Abrahams, Author of A Singer and Her Songs, African Folktales, and Singing the Master

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253354396
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 12/4/2009
  • Series: African Expressive Cultures Series
  • Pages: 488
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.60 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Henry Glassie is College Professor Emeritus of Folklore at Indiana University Bloomington. He is author of numerous books, including The Stars of Ballymenone (IUP, 2006).

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction Twins Seven-Seven 1

Pt. 1 Prince's Life

1 Kissing Birds 11

2 Born at the Edge 37

3 The Line of Osuntoki 47

4 An Abiku Child 63

5 Pattern in Time 79

6 A Throwaway Boy from the Bush 93

7 The Road to Osogbo 103

8 Prince's First Picture 113

9 Big Shows and Changing Markets 125

10 Political Involvements 143

11 Troubles at Home 153

12 Chieftaincy Titles 161

13 Reasons to Leave 171

14 An Immigrant's Tale 189

15 The Hero's Return 215

16 Farewell 249

Pt. 2 Prince's Art

17 Yoruba Art 263

Representation 265

Presentation 291

Composition 296

18 Modern Art 303

19 Postmodern Times 319

20 Dreams of the Abiku Child 335

Afterword and Acknowledgments 419

Prince's Exhibitions: A List by Harriet Schiffer 423

Notes 427

Bibliography 451

Index 469

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