African Art - works of power and beauty 

To understand African art and the people one has to take the history of Africa seriously, this requires careful and cautious scrutiny of African culture and tradition.

The fascinating new breakthroughs in archaeological and anthropological investigations into African art, empires and societies, scientifically proves that the past great cultures of sub-Sahara Africa – Nok, Igbo, Benin, Akan Zimbabwe and South Africa (Mapungubwe) amongst other represented complex societies and during the same period great parts of Europe were still living in the dark ages. Bearing the above in mind Africans and people from around the world are now better able to appreciate the complex diversity and incredible creativity of past and present African civilizations.

To shed light on the above it is important to understand how the western world portrays Africa past and present. Historians, a few artists, the media, amongst others still continue to willfully delude the masses by scant references to Africa however, no one can erase the facts from the pages of history. A history we as Africans should be proud of, a history that we as Africans should rewrite in order to set the record straight.

Here are some some of the blatant untruths of the past.

David Hume during the middle of the 18th century wrote and maintained, “That one can survey the length and breadth of sub-Sahara Africa and find not even one work of visual or written art worthy of the name”

Hume went further and wrote in the second edition of his book “That all of black Africa contained no arts, no sciences"

Ten years later Immanuel Kant wrote in an essay “blackness denotes not only ugliness but stupidity as well”

It was only in 1937 after years of denial that Picasso in a conversation with Andre Malraux not reported publicly until 1974 admitted the African presence in his work.

Pablo Picasso stated: "I have felt my strongest artistic emotions, when suddenly confronted with the sublime beauty of sculptures executed by the anonymous artists of Africa. These works of a religious passionate, and rigorously logical art are the most powerful and most beautiful things the human imagination has ever produced. I hasten to add that, nevertheless, I detest exoticism" -

It is now an accepted fact that African art resuscitated European art that was dying a slow death from a lack of creative ability. It is beyond a shadow of a doubt that African art inspired Europe to the eventual birth of Modern Art.

Also read

bulletRock Art Khoisan
bulletArt and life on the continent
bulletThe history of the African mask
bulletAfrican art painting
bulletMask catalog

References - William Rubin Les demoiselles d' Avignon, Studies in modern art.



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