About This Artwork

Baule
Côte d'Ivoire

Figure of Otherworld Man (Blolo Bian) or Wilderness Spirit (Asye Usu), Early/mid-20th century

Wood, metal, and sacrificial materials
57.8 x 11.4 x 10.2 cm (22 3/4 x 4 x 4 1/2 in.)

Edward E. Ayer Endowment in memory of Charles L. Hutchinson, 1960.802

When a Baule person experiences physical, spiritual, or emotional distress, he or she may consult a diviner. A common diagnosis for such distress is a jealous otherworld lover or wilderness spirit who wishes to be acknowledged. In such instances, a sculptor may be commissioned to carve an idealized human figure to serve as the focal point for care and offerings to the otherworld being. This figure’s composed gaze, muscular legs, well-tended coiffure, and intricate scarifications epitomize a traditional Baule ideal of beauty. Its owner would have kept it in a private living space, hidden under a cloth.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Milwaukee, Wis., Layton School of Art, African Sculpture: Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wielgus, Jan. 3-Feb. 9, 1957, cat. 26.

Art Institute of Chicago, African Art: Collection of Raymond Wielgus, April 13–June 16, 1957, cat. 23.

Detroit Institute of Art, September 15–November 4, 1969 (according to file).

Portland, Maine, Portland Museum of Art, Tribal Art of West Africa, Sep. 16–Oct. 31, 1971, cat. 31.

Publication History

Art Institute of Chicago, African Art: Collection of Raymond Wielgus, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1957), n. pag., cat. 23 (ill.).

Allan Frumkin, African Sculpture: Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wielgus, exh. cat, (Milwaukee, WI.: Layton School of Art, 1957), cat. 26 (ill.).

Allen Wardwell, Primitive Art in the Collections of the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 1965), fig. 71 (ill.).


Portland Museum of Art, Tribal Art of West Africa, exh. cat. (Portland Museum of Art, 1971), pl. 31.

Ownership History

Allan Frumkin, Allan Frumkin Gallery, Chicago, Ill., before 1957; Raymond and Laura Wielgus, Chicago, Ill., by 1957 (Art Institute 1957); given to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1960.




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