Pub. Date:
Indiana University Press
Prince Twins Seven-Seven: His Art, His Life in Nigeria, His Exile in America

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

by Henry Glassie


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253354396
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 12/04/2009
Series: African Expressive Cultures
Pages: 488
Product dimensions: 8.40(w) x 10.60(h) x 1.50(d)

About 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).

Table of Contents

Introduction: Twins Seven-Seven
Part 1. Prince’s Life
1. Kissing Birds
2. Born at the Edge
3. The Line of Osuntoki
4. An Abiku Child
5. Pattern in Time
6. A Throwaway Boy from the Bush
7. The Road to Osogbo
8. Prince’s First Picture
9. Big Shows and Changing Markets
10. Political Involvements
11. Troubles at Home
12. Chieftaincy Titles
13. Reasons to Leave
14. An Immigrant’s Tale
15. The Hero’s Return
16. Farewell
Part 2. Prince’s Art
17. Yoruba Art
18. Modern Art
19. Postmodern Times
20. Dreams of the Abiku Child

What People are Saying About This

Author of A Singer and Her Songs, African Folktales, and Singing the Master - 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.

co-editor of African Folklore: An Encyclopedia - Philip M. Peek

Glassie has given us yet another finely wrought work of art about artists and their works.

Author of African Art in Motion - 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.

Author of Yoruba, Sacred Waters, and Mami Wata - 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.

author of Wrapped in Pride - Doran H. Ross

A compelling study of a contemporary African artist, this volume is wonderfully insightful and immensely readable.

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