On View

Ilekun (Door)

Photo Credit: Rich Sanders, Des Moines

Ilekun (Door)

Artist: Areogun of Osi-Ilorin (Yoruba, Nigeria, ca.1880 - 1956)
Date: ca. 1925
Medium: Wood with traces of paint
Overall: 67 × 32 in. (170.2 × 81.3 cm.)
Credit Line: Purchased with funds from the Coffin Fine Arts Trust; Nathan Emory Coffin Collection of the Des Moines Art Center, 1971.2
Accession number: 1971.2
Classification: African/Oceanic/Pre-Columbian
Label TextArowogun's name is not that which he was given at birth; instead it is a "praise-name," that is, a name bestowed upon him in honor of his work. It is a shortened form of Arowogunyanna, which means "one who earns his living with the tools of Ogun" (the latter is the god of war and iron and of those who use iron tools). Scenes from everyday life are characteristic of Arowogun's subject matter. Women pounding food in a bowl, their babies carried on their backs; a woman in the custody of two armed officials, perhaps Moslem slave traders; a pistol-wielding warrior on horseback, his sword strapped to his side. A modern note is added by a man on a bicycle. The bicycle was introduced into the district surrounding Osi in the 1890's and was incorporated into traditional art forms almost immediately by the carvers of the area. The four rectangular spaces comprising the door are filled with figures seen either in profile or full front, and the degree of relief carving appears to be the same throughout the entire composition. The coloring on the door and the abstract patterns on the bands enclosing each screen further heighten the decorative effect evident in this work. Source: Bulletin, May-June 1971.
Exhibition History"Highlights from Three Collections: The Bohen, Coffin and Cowles Collections," Des Moines Art Center, July 8 - Sept. 11, 1983
Published ReferencesTHE NATHAN EMORY COFFIN COLLECTION, Des Moines Art Center, 1981, portfolio color ill.

GAZETTE DES BEAUX-ARTS, No.1237, Feb.1972, p.119, fig.429

Emma Lila Fundaburk & Thomas Davenport, ART IN PUBLIC PLACES IN THE UNITED STATES Bowling Green Popular Press, Bowling Green, OH, 1975, ref. p.370, ill. pl. no.279

AN UNCOMMON VISION: THE DES MOINES ART CENTER, Des Moines Art Center, 1998, ref. p.324, color ill. fig.8, p.323

Rowland Abiodun, Henry J. Drewal & John Pemberton III, eds., THE YORUBA ARTIST: NEW THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES ON AFRICAN ARTS, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington & London, 1994, ref. p.26, ill. fig.1.14, p.27 (image reversed)

DMAC Bulletin, May/June 1971, cover ill.
entirely unexpected