Presenting over two hundred works of art, The Language of Beauty in African Art emphasizes concepts of beauty through the languages and perspectives of indigenous African communities. By exploring the original words and local evaluations of beauty associated with traditional or historical works, visitors can discover both their meanings and functions—revealing how art informed and reflected life in sub-Saharan Africa in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This impressive assemblage of captivating masks, powerful figures, masterfully carved sculptures, and exquisitely crafted prestige objects is drawn from public and private collections around the world and is presented together for the first time at the Kimbell.

Audio Tour

The audio tour for The Language of Beauty in African Art is available only on the Kimbell app (iTunes • Google Play). Purchase the access code to unlock the tour. $4, $3 for members.



Video Series

In this series, Jennifer Casler Price, curator of Asian, African, and Ancient American art at the Kimbell Art Museum, and Constantine Petridis, Ph.D., chair and curator of the arts of Africa at the Art Institute of Chicago, discuss themes and key takeaways from “The Language of Beauty in African Art.”


Kimbell Art Museum

Installation Views

Virtual Tour

"The Language of Beauty in African Art"

Exhibition Catalogue 

This ambitious publication centers indigenous perspectives on traditional artworks from Africa by focusing on the judgments and vocabularies of members of the communities who created and used them. It explores cross-cultural affinities spanning the African continent while respecting local contexts; it also documents an exhibition that is extraordinary in scope and scale. The project’s overriding goal is to reconsider Western evaluations of these arts in both aesthetic and financial terms. The volume features nearly 300 works from collections around the world and from the important holdings of the Art Institute of Chicago. Although it emphasizes the sculptural legacy of sub-Saharan cultures from West and Central Africa, it also includes examples of artistic traditions associated with eastern and southern Africa as well as textiles and objects designed for domestic, ritual, and decorative functions.



A white catalogue with four African masks and the title "The Language of Beauty in African Art"

This exhibition was organized by The Art Institute of Chicago.


Promotional support is provided by American Airlines, NBC 5, and PaperCity.

American Airlines logo, NBC 5 logo, and Paper City logo