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The Metropolitan Museum Journal, v. 43 (2008)

"The Recently Acquired Kongo Magaaka Power Figure"

LaGamma, Alisa
11 pages
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Alisa LaGamma

Born in Lubumbashi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Alisa LaGamma spent her formative years in sub-Saharan Africa. Graduate studies in African art history at Columbia University led her to undertake research in southern Gabon on the living tradition of Punu masks that culminated in her 1995 dissertation “The Art of the Punu Mukudj Masquerade: Portrait of an Equatorial Society.” A curator at the Metropolitan since 1996, her exhibition projects devoted to topics ranging from authorship to portraiture have sought to anchor African art historically and conceptually. In 2010 she was a fellow at the Center for Curatorial Leadership and in 2012 the Bard Graduate Center recognized her work with the Iris Award for Outstanding Scholarship.

Selected publications

LaGamma, Alisa. Eternal Ancestors: The Art of the Central African Reliquary (The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press, 2007).

———. Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures (The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press, 2011).

———. Kongo: Power and Majesty (The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press, 2015).

———. Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara (The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press, 2020).

———. “Silenced Mbembe Muses.” Metropolitan Museum Journal 48 (2013): 143–160.

Mangaaka Power Figure (Nkisi N’Kondi), Kongo artist and nganga, Yombe group, Wood, iron, resin, ceramic, plant fiber, textile, pigment, Kongo
Kongo artist and nganga, Yombe group
Second half of the 19th century
Crucifix, Kongo artist, Solid cast brass, Kongo
Kongo artist
16th–17th century
Male Power Figure (Nkisi), Kongo artist and nganga, Wood, pigment, nails, cloth, beads, shells, arrows, leather, nuts, twine, Kongo
Kongo artist and nganga
late19th–mid-20th century