1.1 Background of the study
The development of art history or the beginning of art documentation in Nigeria could be traced to the 1920s with Aina Onabolu book title: The story of Art. Although, the book was not art historical in the real sense. It was the first document in printed form; information on art. In the 1940s, the emergence of many newspaper and culture interest magazine, like the Nigeria Magazine, gave impetus for the writing on art to become a regular feature. Although the writers were not art historians or even educated in art pedagogy, the writings were critical for art scholarship in this period. It was not until the 1970s that art history became articulated as a curricular subject at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, though it was part of the courses of the art programme of the Zaria Art Department.
Furthermore, art history has emerged as a discipline in some notable higher institutions in Nigeria, which have produced several art
historians that are now teaching students how to interpret and evaluate works of art. For this reason, this research work tends to document the singular efforts of an individual art historian and art history teacher, Professor Freeborn Odiboh. This is because of his prolific, dynamic and ever-growing innovation in his research and his involvement in pedagogy. It is also to account for his influences on contemporary art history in Nigeria.
Obviously, Freeborn Odiboh, is recognized at both national and international levels. He lectures at the undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Benin, having authenticated this teacher of art history as an interesting focus of this research. This research would be concerned about the approach of Odiboh to a new art history and toward this, there shall be focus on his early life, education as well as other influences. There is no doubt that the writings of Odiboh have featured in numerous publications such as books and journals; these have been a step to his large contribution and recognition as a zealous and academic art historian.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Art history is a wide network of study in the twenty-first century which disseminate all the artistic legacy of mankind throughout history. The influence of art history on Nigerian art cuts across the societies and it usually attempts to analyze artists as well as their works in terms of the cultural values in which they were created. Art history is multifaceted, interdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary and encompass visual arts, creative arts, architectural design and computer technology. Yet, Nigeria art institutions and art bodies fail to recognize this recent trend and development on the new art history. Obviously, has any research work examined the outstanding qualities of personalities in Art history in contemporary Nigerian art? More so, scholars and theorists of art history have not drawn focus and attention to these erudite individuals of art who have been faithful to the self-logic of art history. Nevertheless, it has been observed that some of those art historians are undocumented. Contrary to this view, this research work will critically examine Freeborn Odiboh‟s vast approach to a new art history in Nigeria art.
1.3 Objective of the Study
This research set out to examine the vast approach of an academic art historian in contemporary art history in Nigeria; who has remained undocumented in the Nigeria art history, (Freeborn Odiboh). This has inspired this researcher to document the singular efforts of this individual art historian and art teacher towards his involvement in pedagogy. It is hoped to produce a critical research piece, especially the emerging academic art historian in art history in Nigeria.