Chika Okeke-Agulu

Robert Schirmer Professor of Art and Archaeology and African American Studies
Director, Program in African Studies
Director, Africa World Initiative


An artist, critic and art historian, Okeke-Agulu specializes in indigenous, modern, and contemporary African and African Diaspora art history and theory. Born in Umuahia, Nigeria, Okeke-Agulu earned an MFA (Painting) from the University of Nigeria, and PhD (Art History) from Emory University. He previously taught at The Pennsylvania State University, and University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Here at Princeton, he is Director of the Program in African Studies, Director of African World Initiative.

Professor Okeke-Agulu was appointed the Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor of Art History at Williams College (2007), Kirk Varnedoe Visiting Professor, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (2020); and Slade Professor of Fine Art, University of Oxford (2023). He was Fellow at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (2008), and a Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellow (2010). He was elected Fellow of the The British Academy in 2022.

His books include El Anatsui. The Reinvention of Sculpture (Damiani, 2022); African Artists: From 1882 to Now (Phaidon, 2021); Yusuf Grillo: Painting. Lagos. Life (Skira, 2020); Obiora Udechukwu: Line, Image, Text (Skira, 2016); Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria (Duke UP, 2015); and Contemporary African Art Since 1980 (Damiani, 2010). In 2006, he edited the first ever issue of African Arts Dedicated to African Modernism, and his writings have appeared in African ArtsMeridians: Feminism, Race, InternationalismArtforum InternationalPackett, South Atlantic Quarterly, and October, as well as in The New York Times, The Guardian (Lagos), and Huffington Post. He is co-editor of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art and writes the blog Ọfọdunka.

As a curator, Okeke-Agulu co-organized Samuel Fosso: Affirmative Acts, Princeton University Art Museum, 2022; and (with Okwui Enwezor) the traveling survey El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale, Haus der Kunst, Munich (2019). His many other art exhibitions, including Who Knows Tomorrow, Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2010); Fifth Gwangju Biennale (2004); The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945–1994, Museum Villa Stuck, Munich (2001); Seven Stories About Modern Art in Africa, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1995) and the Nigerian section, First Johannesburg Biennale (1995). He was on the curatorial team of Sharjah Biennial (2023). In 2024, he chaired the International Jury for the Decolonial Memorial Commission, Berlin, and served on the International Jury of the 60th Venice Biennale.

Okeke-Agulu serves on the advisory boards of the Hyundai Tate Research Centre, Tate Modern, London; The Africa Institute, Sharjah; and Museum of West African Art, Benin City, Nigeria. He is on the advisory council of Mpala Research Center, Nanyuki, Kenya, and serves on the executive board of Princeton in Africa. Previously, he served on the board of directors of College Art Association, and the advisory board of the Center for the Study of Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.  

His many awards include Honorable Mention, Arnold Rubin Outstanding Publication Award, Arts Council of African Studies Association (2017); The Melville J. Herskovits Prize for the most important scholarly work in African Studies published in English during the preceding year (African Studies Association, 2016); Frank Jewett Mather Award for Distinction in Art Criticism (College Art Association, 2016); and Distinguished Alumnus Award for Outstanding Service to the Arts (The College of the Arts, University of South Florida, Tampa).


Ph.D., Emory University, 2004
M.F.A (painting), University of Nigeria, 1994

Selected Publications

El Anatsui. The Reinvention of Sculpture, co-authored with Okwui Enwezor (Damiani, 2022)

Yusuf Grillo: Painting. Lagos. Life. (Skira, 2020)

Obiora Udechukwu: Line, Image, Text (Skira, 2017)

Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in 20th-Century Nigeria (Duke University Press, 2015).

El Anatsui at The Clark, contributing author, with Alisa LaGamma (The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2011).

Phyllis Galembo: Maske, coauthored with Phyllis Galembo (Chris Boot, 2010).

Who Knows Tomorrow, coedited with Udo Kittelmann and Britta Schmitz (Walther König, 2010).

“The Art Society and the Making of Postcolonial Modernism in Nigeria,” South Atlantic Quarterly 109.3 (Summer 2010).

African Art
African Diaspora Art
Home Department and Other Affiliations
Africa World Initiative
African American Studies
Art & Archaeology
Program in African Studies