Arts of Africa

Permanent Collection

Map of African continent

Queensborough Community College has quietly assembled an impressive collection of African Art… with luck, other university galleries around the country will emulate it.

-Holland Cotter, The New York Times


The QCC Art Gallery, the City University of New York, Permanent Collection of Africa Art includes masks, figures, household and ritual objects, bodies, ceremonial costumes, and textiles, from Western Sudan, the West Atlantic Coast to Central Africa, and East and Southern Africa.  These objects in the permanent collection were selected by their geographical representation and aesthetic appeal. They cover the full range of ceremonial and practical objects produced on the African continent.

African Art has secured its place among the great art traditions. At first, the Western world recognized it through its influence on European avant-garde artists at the beginning of the 20th century. That became a turning point in the advent of Modern Art, first by the breakthrough of Picasso but almost immediately by many others. Now, in the 21st century, it is an anachronism to refer to African art as primitive. These diverse cultural expressions from the continent of Africa are acclaimed in their own rights by scholars, collectors, museums, and the public alike their sophistication, vitality, and expressive effect having become apparent.

What the Western world first deemed as savage curios were, in their African context, actually objects imbued with power emitted through form, materials, color, and surface qualities. Now, African art is recognized as a vivid expression of African values and traditions, responsive to influences and changing conditions. This art, from the religious, mythological, and historical to the decorative and functional are expressions from cities, towns, and villages where the traditions are alive; traditions that slowly evolve, reflecting subtle and sometimes intense changes in form and detail through shifting values, foreign influences, migrations, and new technology.

This Collection would not have been possible without Gary Schulze, commitment to this project and Leonard Kahan’s continual advice, energy, and undying dedication to providing Queensborough Community College with a vehicle to educate both, our current and future students as well as members of the New York community.

We wish to express our deep appreciation and gratitude to all the donors of the pieces who have so generously relinquished their works of art to help creating this testimony to the vivid expression of African values and traditions.

Faustino Quintanilla
Executive Director