Olowe of Ise is considered by Western art historians and collectors to be one of the most important 20th century artists of the Yoruba people of what is today Nigeria, Africa. He was a wood sculptor and master innovator in the African style of design known as oju-ona.
Olowe was born in Efon-Alaiye, a town known as a major cultural center in Yorubaland, but he lived most of his life in the city of Ise. He was initially employed as a messenger at the court of King Arinjale of Ise. It is a matter of dispute whether his artistic career began as an apprenticeship or arose purely from his own natural talent. His fame as a sculptor appears to have begun at Ise under the patronage of Arinjale before spreading throughout eastern Yorubaland. Olowe was summoned to Ilesa, Ikere, Akure, Idanre, Ogbagi and other towns located within a 60-mile radius to create elaborate household, personal and ritual objects for wealthy families.