Publishing house Phaidon has released a stunning continuum of 316 African artists from 51 countries selected by a panel of art historians, critics, curators and other specialists in the field. 

One element of this book’s beauty is its determination to cover the continent in its entirety as opposed to sectioning the art of the continent off into binary geographical locations, such as North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

The book is accompanied by an introductory essay by academic Okeke-Agulu, a professor of African and African Diaspora Art at Princeton University. The essay thus raises issues surrounding identity, representation and the place of the work of African Africans in the global art world. And Joseph L. Underwood, assistant professor of Art History at Kent State University, provides a glossary of terms, art groups and movements.

The hardback is diverse in its collection, boasting bigger and predicted names like El Anatsui, David Goldblatt, Lubaina Himid, William Kentridge, Julie Mehretu, and Robin Rhode are featured alongside emerging artists from the region and other artists who the panel deem important whose names aren’t yet established outside of their countries.

As for the book’s structure, artists are organised alphabetically which lends itself to a unique and egalitarian medium. This means that legends such as South African photographer Zanele Muholi – who had an acclaimed show at the Tate Modern finish earlier this year – are presented opposite more up and coming or underground artists. 

The book’s cover is created by Cape Town-based designer Gabrielle Guy and is inspired by the art of celebrated Ndebele painter Esther Mahlangu, making use of a colour palette drawn from Mozambican textiles. African Artists: From 1882 to Now is on sale from 21 October.

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