In this essay, I argue that the economic and social forces of globalization have altered spaces in which art, commerce and scholarship are negotiated. In the first part of the essay I demonstrate how the historical and philosophical forces have shaped the space of African art. How has the history and culture of Western art affected the perception of and commerce in African sculpture, masks and textiles? In the second part of the essay, I consider the impact of a different set of historical and philosophical parameters—the history of long distance trade and the impact of Islam—on West African traders' perception of "wood," the term they use to denote African Art. In the third part of the essay, I analyze what happens when these two universes of meaning intersect in contemporary transnational spaces. In the conclusion, I argue that this continuously negotiated and renegotiated picture of perception and reality, art and commerce will have a significant impact on twenty-first century practitioners of ethnography.