Masks, devices for both disguise and bodily transformation, are made to be worn or displayed. In many African traditions, carved wooden masks and costumes are worn over the face or other body parts in rituals and performances, sometimes transforming the wearer into a spiritual conduit. European Modernists, such as Pablo Picasso, looked to African masks as touchstones for abstracted and stylized human figures; this connection is most explicit in the mask-inspired faces of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles D’avignon (1907). In the last decade many artists have used the form of the mask as a vehicle for cultural commentary, as in Liu Bolin’s re-creation of Peking Opera masks using junk-food packaging and advertisements, or Mozambican artist Goncalo Mabunda’s mask-like sculptures, which incorporate arms recovered from his country’s recent civil war to comment on the disruptive power of violence on cultural traditions.

Related Artists

Filter by
This is based on the artwork’s average dimension.