Art of the Cameroon Grassfields, A Living Heritage in Houston

Exhibition Website

Feb 17 2023 - Jul 9 2023

Art of the Cameroon Grassfields, A Living Heritage in Houston celebrates the enduring artistic traditions from Cameroon and its global diaspora. A mountainous and verdant area in western and northwestern Cameroon, the Grassfields region is recognized internationally for its innovative artists, who have been supported by the royal patronage of more than two hundred independent monarchies. 

While many kingdoms (chefferies) in the Grassfields date to the 17th century or earlier, others were established more recently. Intense competition for prestige among rulers continues to drive the commissioning of elaborate and monumental forms of visual culture by the most revered artists and workshops.​​

The main gallery of Art of the Cameroon Grassfields will present more than twenty historical works from the holdings of the Menil Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and local private collections. Highlights include headdresses, masks, prestige hats, royal stools and figural sculptures, and palace architectural elements from several of the Grassfields kingdoms. 

In a separate gallery, two recent installations by Douala-based artist Hervé Youmbi—Celestial Thrones (Les trônes célestes) and Bamiléké-Duala Nyatti Ku’ngang Mask—engage with popular regional and international material culture to explore histories of art, colonial legacies, and the futures of ceremonial and courtly art in the Grassfields. 

Contemporary counterpoints to the display of historical works, Youmbi’s projects underscore the vibrant living cultural heritage of the Grassfields and its ongoing transformation at the hands of contemporary artists.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website

    Exhibition Venues & Dates