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Ben Enwonwu

(1917-1994) Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu better knowns as Ben Enwonwu was a Nigerian painter and sculptor born on July 14, 1917. Starting the 1950s, he was dubbed as one of Africa's greatest artists and credited for paving the way for the proliferation and increased visibility in Modern African art. Enwonwu completed his secondary education at the Government College in Umuahia (1937) under Kenneth C. Murray. This period marked the beginning of his formal education in art. In 1944, under a joint scholarship from the Shell Petroleum Company and the British Council, he attended the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford and later to the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art in London where he graduated with a first-class honors diploma in Sculpture. After graduation, he enrolled at the University of London for postgraduate studies in Anthropology. He graduated in 1948 and became a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland and a member of the Royal Academy of Arts. He then returned to Nigeria and worked as an Artist Adviser to the Federal Government. Ben Enwonwu worked as a teacher in several institutions for the better part of his career and toured widely in the United States lecturing and executing commissions as a freelance artist. He won the National Merit Award for academic and intellectual attainment in Nigeria for his works (1954 & 1980) and the Commonwealth Certificate from the Royal Institute of Art in London for his contributions to art (1958). Also on 1958, he became a member of the Order of the British Empire and later an honorary Officer of the National Order of the Republic in Senegal (1971). He exhibited widely in Europe and the United States and was listed in numerous international directories of modern art all across the globe. The artist died on February 5, 1994 in Lagos.