Prince Twins Seven-Seven

Prince Twins Seven-Seven

His Art, His Life in Nigeria, His Exile in America
Henry Glassie
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 01/02/2010
Format: Hardback 185 color illus., 11 b&w illus., 1 map
ISBN: 978-0-253-35439-6
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Winner, 2011 Nigerian Studies Association Book Prize

Prince Twins Seven-Seven (1944-2011) was not only one of Africa's most famous contemporary artists and the leader of the Osogbo School of Nigerian artists, he was known as the modern master of the Yoruba tradition in art. His work has been exhibited on every continent, is collected by major museums throughout the world, and in 2005, Prince was named UNESCO Artist for Peace. Henry Glassie blends life and art to create a vivid portrait of an extraordinary artist. This lavishly illustrated book, part biography and part artist's catalog, addresses tradition and innovation in Prince’s art, the development of his personal style, the force of the supernatural in Nigerian life, and the hard times of the immigrant artist in the United States.

Author Bio

Henry Glassie is College Professor Emeritus of Folklore at Indiana University Bloomington. He is author of numerous books, including The Stars of Ballymenone (IUP, 2006).


“Glassie has given us yet another finely wrought work of art about artists and their works.”
 — Philip M. Peek, co-editor of African Folklore: An Encyclopedia

“Acknowledged as the modern master of the Yoruba tradition in art, Prince Twins Seven-Seven's work has been exhibited on every continent and is collected by major museums throughout the world. Part biography and part artist's catalog, this book blends life and art to paint a vivid portrait of an extraordinary artist.”

“Prince Twins Seven-Seven is a propulsive artist in many media, and this Miltonic book about him gives us an intricate and fascinating study of a Yoruba Big Man as he puts his life together and replays it in story. The wonder of it all is that he explained it to his friend Henry Glassie, and Glassie explains it then for us. There is no better description in the ethnographic literature of political and personal ascendancy. Glassie takes great chances, just as Prince does, giving us the mythic and legendary details we need to relate this man to art and artists throughout the world.”
 — Roger D. Abrahams, Author of A Singer and Her Songs, African Folktales, and Singing the Master

“Henry Glassie has crafted a masterful account of the contradictions, complexities, and creativity that have characterized the turbulent life of a troubled and troublesome child—a child, according to his Yoruba family lore, 'born-to-die.' But true to his stubborn nature, he—Twins Seven-Seven—refused to depart and, with the aid of the 'goddess of sweet water,' Osun, stayed to stir things up with his remarkable artistry. With deep and sincere dedication and exquisite sensitivity, Henry Glassie helps us to know and understand this complicated man, his life, creative process, his passions and fears, his exile and return, and ultimately his 're-birth' as a royal prince and global artist. Just as Twins creates inert material objects that vibrate with life, so too Glassie offers us stunning insights into an artist’s rich imaginings.”
 — Henry John Drewal, Author of Yoruba, Sacred Waters, and Mami Wata

“What happens when one of Nigeria’s most powerful artists, Twins Seven-Seven, meets America’s most distinguished folklorist, Henry Glassie? You get an all-time masterpiece of cultural portraiture. Twins Seven-Seven reveals and recounts his life and his art and Glassie transmutes all this into analytic gold. There were times when I did not know whether to cry (over Twins’ career difficulties and the shock of Glassie being hospitalized in mid-book) or to shout (in celebration of the argument and its limitless beauty) but I can tell you this: I felt exalted at the end.”
 — Robert Farris Thompson, Author of African Art in Motion

“A compelling study of a contemporary African artist, this volume is wonderfully insightful and immensely readable.”
 — Doran H. Ross, author of Wrapped in Pride

“For Twins Seven-Seven afficionados or even general art lovers looking to broaden their horizons, this lush volume, chock full with stunning images, has the power to entrance. May 29, 2010”

“A product of extensive research presented in elegant sentences, beautifully illustrated, and professionally printed, this book gives ethnography a good name, confers respect on a fine scholar, and turns Prince Seven-Seven into a larger-than-life figure. October 2010”
 — Choice

“This book is essential reading for students of culture and personality in folklore and anthropology and oral history and autobiography.”
 — Journal of American Folklore

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Twins Seven-Seven
Part 1. Prince’s Life
1. Kissing Birds
2. Born at the Edge
3. The Line of Osuntoki
4. An Abiku Child
5. Pattern in Time
6. A Throwaway Boy from the Bush
7. The Road to Osogbo
8. Prince’s First Picture
9. Big Shows and Changing Markets
10. Political Involvements
11. Troubles at Home
12. Chieftaincy Titles
13. Reasons to Leave
14. An Immigrant’s Tale
15. The Hero’s Return
16. Farewell
Part 2. Prince’s Art
17. Yoruba Art
18. Modern Art
19. Postmodern Times
20. Dreams of the Abiku Child

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