On a recent visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, it struck me how much the lighting on certain sculptures would affect the appearance and the experience of viewing the piece. Take a look here at Benedict Enwonwu MBE’s “Africa Dances,” below left, and Wangechi Mutu’s “Tree Woman,” below right. The lighting on Enwonwu’s sculpture creates an exaggerated emphasis on the figure’s body position, while the lighting on Mutu’s sculpture creates an abstract marking that is somewhat interesting in its own right. While I’m sure that the initial emphasis on lighting is to make sure that the sculpture is properly lit, one can imagine that the resulting shadows must have had some impact on how they were illuminated. I think in both cases, it definitely adds visual interest to the art works.

African art at the Smithsonian and the shadows created from lighting them



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