Pieter Hugo - Photographs London Friday, May 19, 2023 | Phillips
  • For his seminal series The Hyena and Other Men, renowned South African photographer Pieter Hugo documented Nigeria’s ‘hyena men’, a group of travelling performers who work with hyenas, monkeys and snakes. In his 2009 monograph, Hugo describes his image-making process:

    In Abuja we found them living on the periphery of the city in a shantytown – a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons. It turned out that they were a group of itinerant minstrels, performers who used the animals to entertain crowds and sell traditional medicines. The animal handlers were all related to each other and were practising a tradition passed down from generation to generation. I spent eight days travelling with them.

    The spectacle caused by this group walking down busy market streets was overwhelming. I tried photographing this but failed, perhaps because I wasn't interested in their performances. I realised that what I found fascinating was the hybridisation of the urban and the wild, and the paradoxical relationship that the handlers have with their animals – sometimes doting and affectionate, sometimes brutal and cruel. I started looking for situations where these contrasting elements became apparent. I decided to concentrate on portraits. I would go for a walk with one of the performers, often just in the city streets, and, if opportunity presented itself, take a photograph…

    • Provenance

      Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

    • Literature

      P. Hugo, The Hyena & Other Men, Munich: Prestel, 2007, n.p.
      Pieter Hugo: This Must Be The Place, Munich: Prestel, 2012, p. 133

    • Catalogue Essay

      The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, holds another print from this sold-out edition of 7 + 2 APs.


Mallam Mantari Lamal with Mainasara, Nigeria from The Hyena and Other Men

Chromogenic print, mounted.
Image: 152 x 152 cm (59 7/8 x 59 7/8 in.)
Frame: 176 x 176 cm (69 1/4 x 69 1/4 in.)

Signed, titled, dated and numbered 2/7 in ink on an artist label affixed to the reverse of the frame. One from a sold-out edition of 7 + 2 APs.

Full Cataloguing

£20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for £24,130

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London Auction 19 May 2023