Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Figure: Mother and Child

16th–20th century
Dogon peoples
H. 24 3/16 x W. 3 3/8 x D. 4 5/8 in. (61.5 x 8.6 x 11.7 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
Not on view
This visual tribute to motherhood may have been conceived as a prayer for new life directed to familial ancestors.  The Dogon master sculptor charged with its creation for an altar used a single cylindrical block of wood as his point of departure.  The contours of the female figure emerge from that solid mass and are defined by pronounced angles.  At the summit the exactingly defined arrangement of her hair in carefully plaited sections is an attribute of elegant refinement.  At the very center of the composition the form of the child diagonally spans the vertical axis of its mother.  Their seamless interconnection is apparent in the fluid integration of the infant that appears as one of its parent’s bodily appendages.  The precious life that she nurtures is at once protectively shielded and lyrically folded within the recesses of her corporeal being.
[John J. Klejman, New York, until 1958]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1958, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1958–1978

Leloup, Hélène and Philippe, William Rubin, New York, Richard Serra, Georg Baselitz, and Brunhilde Biebuyck. Dogon Statuary. Strausbourg: Editions Amez, 1994, Page 118.

Leloup, Hélène, ed. Dogon: Catalogue of an exhibition held at Musée du quai Branly, Paris, April 5–July 24, 2011. Paris: Musée du Quai Branly, 2011, Checklist #14, p. 352.

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