Installation view, Kuba: Fabric of an Empire. Photo by Mitro Hood

Kuba: Fabric of an Empire


This exhibition of dazzling Kuba textiles presented in the BMA’s Cone Collection galleries reveals how a central African kingdom independently developed a form of modernist abstraction in the 20th century. The Kuba kingdom, on the southern edge of the Congolese Rainforest in central Africa, developed one of the greatest civilizations in the history of the continent. Art and design were central to their life. In addition to an elaborate and varied masquerade tradition, Kuba men and women were prolific textile artists, even weaving houses and embroidering currency. As the kingdom grew richer and more powerful, Kuba men and women began to create increasingly abstract designs. Works produced in Kuba’s earlier periods are defined by repeating patterns and minute details. Textiles created at the height of the kingdom’s power and prestige are characterized by bold, inventive designs that are constantly in flux.

This exhibition is curated by Associate Curator of African Art Kevin Tervala.

The Baltimore Museum of Art thanks the Estate of Margaret Hammond Cooke, the Feitler Family Foundation, and the Historic Textile Research Foundation for their generous support of this exhibition.