Cover image for Wild spirits, strong medicine : African art and the wilderness
Wild spirits, strong medicine : African art and the wilderness
Anderson, Martha G., 1948-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Center for African Art ; Seattle : University of Washington Press, [1989]

Physical Description:
152 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 31 cm
General Note:
Cover title: Wild spirits.

Catalog of a travelling exhibition held at New York's Center for African Art (5/10-8/20/89) and other sites.

Includes index.


Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N7391.65 .A5 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



Published with the Center for African Art, NYC, this handsome, large (9x12") book illustrates 120 artifacts in excellent color, and introduces them in 80 pages of text and photos (only 15 in b&w) of the settings and uses of the objects. The authors argue persuasively that these cultures regard wilderness as a state that is removed from their civilized villages. Annotation(c) 2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The catalog of a June 1989 exhibition at The Center for African Art in New York. Although the objects selected for the exhibition are of the highest interest and quality, the catalog will achieve much greater importance over the years as a contribution to understanding African art than as a document of the objects presented. The central theme of the exhibition and essays is that much of the art we admire from Africa played a role in fundamental African ideas about the contrasts between village and forest, culture and nature, human and animal. Many of the objects in museums represent nature spirits: supernatural beings that control the forces of nature and mean the difference between success and failure in life. The text is very concise, clear, and well informed. Both the essay and the catalog that follows are divided into five chapters that deal with the definition of wilderness, the spirit forces that inhabit it, and the ways humans intervene to manipulate these forces. The essay is accompanied by several very fine quality photographs taken in Africa of art objects at work, and the catalog is illustrated with color photographs of the highest quality. There is a lengthy and very up-to-date bibliography and one rather inadequate map. This is one of the most useful and informative books on African art to appear in the past five years. It addresses issues that have been almost ignored until now, and it will make an important addition to any library with holdings on African art, religion, anthropology, literature, or history. -C. D. Roy, University of Iowa