Types of Art in Nigeria

Now, we can look at this is two ways, especially as it concerns art in Nigeria. So if we look at Types of Art in Nigeria, from a historical point of view, what we’d arrive with is Nok Art, Igbo Ukwu Art, Ife Art, Benin Art and the likes. Since we’ve dealt with that in the History of Arts in Nigeria, we’d leave it alone.  We’d rather back into this topic from a purely academic point of view.

In this way, we can say that there are majorly two types of Art in Nigeria. If you still remember your o-level Fine Art classes or whatever they call that subject in secondary schools nowadays, then you should be familiar with some of these concepts. From an academic point of view, there are majorly two types of art in Nigeria and all around the world.

Visual art and performing art. All forms of art can actually be classified into any of these two broad categories.

Visual Arts

Visual arts, this involves those art types that we can see with out eyes, and it can be further subdivided into Fine arts and Applied arts.

Now fine arts include those art forms which are made or generally used for aesthetic purposes, that is for beautification and decoration alone, but have no major functional used. Art forms such as painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, photography, relief making.  All these fall under fine arts because they are used basically for beautification purposes.


Some popular Nigerian painters are Ben Enwonwu, Olumide Oresegun, Sam Ebohon, Rom Isichei, Bruce Onabrekpeya, and Yussuf Grillo, just to mention a few. Just last year that is in 2017 Ben Enwonwu’s work, called Tutu became the most expensive painting by a Nigerian artist when it sold for a whooping $1.68 million.


History of Arts in Nigeria
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This is the carving of images from wood and rocks. It also involves the moulding or joining of objects from metals and clay. Popular Nigerian sculptors include Bruce Onabrekpeya, Ben Enwonwu, Twins Seven Seven, Boma Joejim amongst others.

The art of sculpting itself is older than the nation Nigeria. Remember Nok Arts, Igbo- Ukwu arts, Ife Bronze heads, sculptures were the art works that put Nigeria on the art map of the world. Sculptures are some of Nigeria’s most recognized works and also oldest surviving works of art.


Photography itself is somewhere about 200 years old, and as a form of art, it is relatively new in Nigeria. I mean it involves technology, and usually technology is not something that Nigeria as a country thrives on.  A very popular photographer is Ty Bello, the Land is Green Singer. Kelechi Amadi, George Osodi.

Computer Art or Digital Art

This involves web design and user interfaces for websites, software and computer related stuff.

Applied Arts


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This involves the application of decoration and design to everyday objects to beautify them. Of course sometimes, fine arts and applied art intertwine.

Examples of this will include pottery, weaving and textile design, architecture, relief making. Nike Okun-Daiye is a popular Nigerian textile designer, she’s the owner of Nike Gallery.

Performing Arts

This is another very old form of arts to the Nigerian people. Dancing and singing have always been part of our culture. Our ancestors danced at weddings, at the shrines of gods and even as part of battle preparation.

Of course, we’ve had Nigerians  put Nigeria on the world map through their music prowess. The likes of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who invented the genre we now know as Afro beat, and his son Femi. Fela’s influence in music is seen in that of many contemporary Nigerian artistes, like Wizkid, Burna boy, W4 and many others.

There are also many dance troupes and stage actors who always bring to life stage dramas. Dances such as Atilogu from South East Nigeria and Bata from South West, are dances that are indigenous to us and examples of types of art Nigeria.

There are many other dance styles in Nigeria, the more contemporary ones include Shaku shaku, Shoki and Gaga shuffle. Though we do these recent dances often, we rarely think of them as art, but yes they are.

Apart from dancing and singing, there is also acting, which included theatre and stage and then of course screen acting. When we talk about stage drama, we remember great works such as Ola Rotimi’s the “Gods Are not to Be Blamed”, Wole Soyinka’s “Ogboju Ode ninu Igbo irunmale which translates to The Hunter in the forest of a Thousand Demons.

Then how about Nollywood, there’s not much to say here.

So basically performing arts involves dance, all various form of dance, spoken word poetry, music, acting and all other arts forms that need to be performed.

Not forgetting Literary Arts which is art in the written form. So poetry, drama and prose are the three divisions. Wole Soyinka, the first African to win a Nobel Laureate is renowned for his drama writing skills and Poetry. Some of Soyinka’s works include “Telephone Conversation” this is poetry, then the “Brother Jero Plays”, “The Lion and the Jewel” these two are drama.

These arts are the major types of arts in Nigeria. All other arts will somehow fall under any of the these types of art mentioned.


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