Apollo
Art Diary

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré: World Unbound

4 March 2022

The Ivorian artist Frédéric Bruly Bouabré (1923–2014) approached his art-making like a folklorist, recording and transmitting in his drawings and writings subjects taken from the traditions, myths, religious systems and popular culture of the Ivorian Bété people. Famously, he invented the first writing system for the Bété in the 1950s – a pictographic script which he would continue both to draw from and build upon over the course of his long career. This survey at MoMA – his first in a US museum and MoMA’s first show devoted to a single artist from the Côte d’Ivoire (13 March–13 August) – has at its heart the Alphabet Bété – 449 drawings in ballpoint pen and coloured pencil, each corresponding to a monosyllabic Bété word, which he made in the 1980s and ’90s. Find out more from MoMA’s website.

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Mythologie Bété «Génie guié guié guié» «Génie couvert d’yeux» (1980), Frédéric Bruly Bouabré.

Mythologie Bété «Génie guié guié guié» «Génie couvert d’yeux» (1980), Frédéric Bruly Bouabré. Courtesy André Magnin; © 2022 Family of Frédéric Bruly Bouabré

Le Dieu Solaire APIS (Égyptien) me présente, ici, l’aspect d’un message pictographique que j’essaie d’interpréter à ma façon, au verso du tableau from Connaissance du monde (1991), Frédéric Bruly Bouabré.

Le Dieu Solaire APIS (Égyptien) me présente, ici, l’aspect d’un message pictographique que j’essaie d’interpréter à ma façon, au verso du tableau from Connaissance du monde (1991), Frédéric Bruly Bouabré. Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2022 Family of Frédéric Bruly Bouabré

 «Les pleurs de l’endeuillé se rendant aux funérailles d’un parent» from Musée du visage africain (1996), Frédéric Bruly Bouabré.

«Les pleurs de l’endeuillé se rendant aux funérailles d’un parent» from Musée du visage africain (1996), Frédéric Bruly Bouabré. Jean Pigozzi Collection of African Art. © 2022 Family of Frédéric Bruly Bouabré

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