Herbert M. Cole

Herbert M. Cole
Professor Emeritus


African Art and architecture; Oceanic and Native American arts.


B.A. Williams College
M.A., Ph.D. Columbia University


Herbert M. Cole, known to many as Skip, taught African art history (plus Oceanic and Native American) from 1968-2003. He also taught briefly at UCLA and the University of Cape Town, in South Africa. As Kofi Colle, he carves miniatures of African figures, masks, stools, staffs, spoons etc.

Cole is author, co-author or editor of eleven books on African arts and 60+ essays and articles. Four years of African field research centered on southeastern Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and Cote d’Ivoire. He organized 13 exhibitions of African art at UCLA, UCSB, LACMA, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC. He invited students to collaborate on and write for several of these projects. His latest book, Maternity: Mothers and Children in the Arts of Africa, was published in 2017.

In 2001 Cole received a Leadership Award from the Arts Council of the African Studies Association (the professional body for Africanists), a lifetime achievement honor. Cole continues to publish, and he has been a consultant to museums and private collectors in the US and abroad. For the past 16 years, as Kofi Cole, he has carved miniature works of African art.


Herbert M. Cole,  Maternity: Mothers and Children in the Arts of Africa (Brussels: Mercatorfonds; New Haven: Distributed by Yale University Press, 2017)