Skip to Main Content
February 11, 2022

Acquisition: Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Njideka Akunyili, "Crosby Eko Skyscraper"

Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Eko Skyscraper
, 2019
acrylic and colored pencil on panel
overall: 61 x 50.8 cm (24 x 20 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Purchased with support from the Ford Foundation
© Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Image courtesy the artist, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

The National Gallery of Art has acquired Eko Skyscraper (2019) by Njideka Akunyili Crosby (b. 1983), the first work by this celebrated artist to enter the collection.

Eko Skyscraper depicts a young Yoruba woman in front of a lush natural backdrop. The painting’s title holds keys to understanding the work, and the manner of its making: “Eko” refers to Lagos, the Nigerian city where the artist attended middle school, while “skyscraper” alludes to the figure’s threaded, structured hair style featured in a 1967 photograph taken in Kisangani, Congo, by Eliot Elis­­ofon, a documentary photographer. In the painting, Akunyili Crosby reversed the image in Elisofon’s photograph, amplified the sitter’s outward gaze, added a new backdrop, and rendered the picture in warm gradients of orange. Unlike traditional portraits or documentary photographs where subjects pose or are recorded live, Akunyili Crosby builds her imagery at a remove across place and time. In addition to various archives, the artist sources the images for her African and African diasporic subjects from a mix of her own photographs, magazines, and online resources, all of which combine to reflect the experience and consciousness of an artist who emigrated to the United States from her native Nigeria.

Contact Information

General Information
For additional press information please call or send inquiries to:
Department of Communications
National Gallery of Art
2000 South Club Drive
Landover, MD 20785
phone: (202) 842-6353
e-mail: [email protected]

Chief of Communications
Anabeth Guthrie
phone: (202) 842-6804
e-mail: [email protected]

The National Gallery also offers a broad range of newsletters for various interests. Follow this link to view the complete list.

Related Resources