Bamigboye, Nigerian sculptor of Le Tour de Force, claims his fame in the world

But many other African artists who worked at the same time, and who also bridged the “traditional” and “modern” categories, continue to have profile problems outside of Africa, that is- that is, they remain anonymous, and therefore not studied.

There have been a few exceptions. In 1980, Susan Vogel organized a personal exhibition entitled “The Buli Master: An African Artist of the 19th Century” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1998, Roslyn A. Walker did the same in “Olowe of Ise: A Yoruba Sculptor to Kings” at the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, spotlighting one of Bamigboye’s oldest near-contemporaries. (The Olowe exhibition catalog was the first comprehensive scholarly publication ever devoted to a single “traditional” African artist; Yale’s Bamigboye catalog now joins it.)

Even if, as some scholars argue, the concern with determining solo authorship in African art is only a Western obsession, oriented towards museums and markets, we have long been waiting to grant to the careers of great African artists the monographic attention we lavish on their global counterparts. .

Doing so will require cooperation across continents and cultures. On the occasion of the Bamigboye exhibition, the Yale University Art Gallery and the University’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage have partnered with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments of Nigeria in a conservation training initiative, with the aim of creating ongoing collaboration between institutions, evident in the presence of Lagos loans to New Haven.

Perhaps if the restitution movement, now in bud, can truly blossom, exchanging resources rather than hoarding them, as the West has done, can become a new two-way norm, and great African artists can claim their fame in the world as they have always done at home.

Bamigboye: A Master Sculptor of the Yoruba Tradition

Through Jan. 8 at Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.; (203) 432-0600,