Featured Work of Art
Chair (Ngumdja), 19th–20th century
Angola; Chokwe peoples
Wood, brass tacks, leather
39 x 16 15/16 x 23 1/8 in. (99.1 x 43 x 58.7 cm)
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1970 (1978.412.619)
Collection Area: African Art
Subject Areas: Visual Arts, English Language Arts, World History
Grades: Middle School, High School
Topic/Theme: Power and Leadership
Students will be able to
- use visual evidence to support interpretations of a work of art; and
- use surface detail and composition to convey power and leadership in a work of art.
Visual Arts – Making Connections between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
Visual Arts – Choosing and Evaluating a Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
Visual Arts – Understanding the Visual Arts in Relation to History and Cultures
Visual Arts – Using Knowledge of Structures and Functions
English Language Arts – Evaluating Data
English Language Arts – Communication Skills
English Language Arts – Multicultural Understanding
World History – Era 7: An Age of Revolutions, 1750–1914
World History – Era 8: A Half-Century of Crisis and Achievement, 1900–1945
World History – Era 9: The 20th Century Since 1945: Promises and Paradoxes
Questions for Viewing
- Take a moment to look closely at the chair. What do you notice?
- Several figures are included in the design; what role might these figures play in the community? What do you see that supports your idea?
- What do you notice about the activities in which the figures are engaged?
- How has the artist organized the composition? What might this tell us?
- Who might sit in a chair like this?
- Why do you think a leader might include scenes of daily life and rituals on his or her throne?
Design a chair for a leader you admire. Create a list of qualities and special ceremonies associated with this person. Identify the items you feel are most important and brainstorm ways to express them visually. What scenes or symbols (e.g. animals, plants, special objects) might you include? As you develop your plan, consider how the organization of the images can reinforce meaning—for example, a figure supporting the leg of the chair might symbolize strength. Transform your sketch into a three-dimensional design by using cardboard to modify an existing chair. Once you are happy with the overall shape, use paint to add surface detail.
Materials: Chair, cardboard, duct tape, paints, brushes
Activity Setting: Classroom
Blier, Suzanne Preston. The Royal Arts of Africa: The Majesty of Form. New York: Abrams, 1998.
Clarke, Christa. The Art of Africa: A Resource for Educators. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006. Download the resource.
Dampierre, Florence de. Chairs: A History. New York: Abrams, 2006.
Pre-Visit Guide for Teachers: The Art of Africa (PDF)
Stool, late 19th century
Attributed to the Buli Master, possibly known as Ngongo ya Chintu
Democratic Republic of Congo; Luba
Wood, metal studs
H. 24 in. (61 cm)
Purchase, Buckeye Trust and Charles B. Benenson Gifts, Rogers Fund and funds from various donors, 1979 (1979.290)
Linguist Staff (Oykeame), 19th–20th century
Ghana; Akan, Asante
Gold foil, wood, nails
H. 61 5/8 x W. 5 3/4 x D. 2 1/4 in. (156.5 x 14.6 x 5.7 cm)
Gift of the Richard J. Faletti Family, 1986 (1986.475a–c)
Author: Adapted from lesson plan by Rebecca Arkenberg in The Art of Africa: A Resource for Educators
Affiliation: The Metropolitan Museum of Art