Language & Art Online Event

Thursday, July 28, 2022 | 6:30 p.m.

In the 1950s, Ivorian artist Frédéric Bruly Bouabré took on an ambitious project: He decided to create a writing system for his native Bété language. His Alphabet Bété is a complex pictographic syllabary of over 400 images. Bouabré hoped his project would become the basis for a universal language — a way of using pictograms to pronounce any word. For the rest of his career, Bouabré thought of his art as a way of capturing and preserving different forms of knowledge. A new exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in New York displays over 1000 of Bouabré’s drawings, and even features a digital tool that allows visitors to create words using the Alphabet Bété. Join Erica DiBenedetto, curatorial assistant in MoMA’s Department of Painting and Sculpture, for a conversation about art, language, and how they intersect with each other.

Language & is made possible by the generous support of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation.


Photo credit: Installation view of the exhibition “Frédéric Bruly Bouabré: World Unbound,” March 13, 2022 – August 13, 2022. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Digital Image © 2022 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Robert Gerhardt