Susanne Wenger (Nigerian; Austrian, 1915 – 2009)
DimensionsWork : 10 1/2 x 8 in. (26.67 x 20.32 cm)
Credit LineHope College Collection
LabelBorn and raised in Austria, Susanne Wenger studied art in Graz, Vienna and Paris, and was especially influenced by the Surrealist and Art Brut movements. In 1950, Wenger moved to Nigeria with her first husband, Ulli Beier, when he accepted a teaching position at University College in Ibadan. She soon became fascinated by Yoruba culture and formed close friendships with many leading Yoruba intellectuals, writers and artists. In 1959, Wenger created a series of prints to illustrate a volume of Yoruba poetry that was collected, edited and translated by Ulli Beier and Bakare Gbadamosi. The figures in Wenger’s prints are drawn in a deliberately naïve style inspired by Yoruba folk art images, while the colors reflect the palette of traditional Yoruba textiles. After Wenger and Beier divorced, she married a Yoruba chief and undertook a serious study of Yoruba religion and spirituality. She was eventually ordained as a Yoruba priestess and helped lead an effort to restore the sacred Osun Grove in Osogbo. She remained living in Nigeria until her death in 2009.