Africa has a history of art that is unmatched anywhere else in the world. The art forms found on the African continent are as diverse as the African people themselves. Numerous tribes and groups from all over the continent contributed to African art history with unique works of art. Despite this diversity, there are some prominent themes that appear in much of African art throughout history. These themes are:
African Art Themes
Emphasis on the human figure.An emphasis on abstract art over naturalistic art.Artist throughout African history tend to concentrate on three-dimensional (example: Sculpture) artworks as opposed to two-dimensional (example: Paintings).The creation of art for use in performance or ceremonies. Art was usually not created to be hung on walls or set in a corner, a common African theme was to use the art. For example mask were worn in many different types of social activities.
African art describes the modern and historical paintings, sculptures, installations, and other visual culture from native or indigenous Africans and the African continent. The definition may also include the art of the native African, African diasporas, such as African American, Caribbean and other American art. Despite this diversity, there are some unifying artistic themes when considering the totality of the visual culture from the continent of Africa.
By one of the strange coincidences of history, the 5th century BC produces the first masterpieces in two incompatible styles of sculpture. Nearly 2500 years later, these styles become bitter rivals in the studios of our own time.
One is the classical realism which will prevail from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century. The other is the sculpture of Africa, distorting human features and limbs in a dramatically expressive manner. African figures in this long and vibrant tradition inspire Picasso's experiments with Cubism, which launch the mainstream of modern art.
The characteristic sculpture of Africa, which forms the largest part of what is usually considered primitive art, can be seen as early as 500 BC in the Nok culture - named from the village in Nigeria where pottery figures of this kind were first found.
The Nok statuettes are mainly of human subjects. Made of terracotta, they combine strong formal elements with a complete disregard for precise anatomy. Their expressive quality places them unmistakably at the start of the African sculptural tradition.
African terracotta figures: from the 5th century BC
The longest surviving tradition of African sculpture is figures in terracotta. Cast metal is the only other material to withstand the continent's termites (fatal to the carved wood of most African sculpture). But the superb metal sculptures of Nigeria, beginning in about the 12th century, are of a much later period than the first terracottas.
West Africa, and in particular modern Nigeria, provides the longest and richest sequence of terracotta figures. They date back two and a half millennia to the extraordinary Nok sculptures. By around the 1st centuryfigures of a wonderful severity are being modelled in the Sokoto region of northwest Nigeria.
Terracotta heads and figures have been found in Ife, dating from the 12th to 15th century - the same period as the first cast-metal sculptures of this region. At Jenne, further north in Mali, archaeologists (followed unfortunately by thieves) have recently unearthed superb terracottas of the same period.
One extraordinary group of terracottas is the exception in this mainly west African story, in that they come from south Africa where they are the earliest known sculptures. They are seven heads, found at Lydenburg in the Transvaal. Modelled in a brutally chunky style, they date from about the 6th century AD.
Powerful terracotta figures in traditional style continue to be made in Africa in the 19th and 20th century, contemporary with the superb carved wooden figures which survive from those two centuries.
Unlike European painting or sculpture, style does not greatly change over the years in African tribal art. So it is a safe assumption that the astonishing imaginative range of African carving familiar to us today was just as evident many centuries ago, though the objects themselves have now crumbled to dust.
At the 7th edition of the young CEOs business forum Global trade and investment summit YCBS Atlanta 2018, the African Art Expo will debut with some of the most remarkable art master piece from the heart of Nigeria and other African countries. Art lovers from all over the world and especially in the united states of america are welcomed to participate.
The 2018 African Art Expo is an initiative of Azariah Transnational Synergy limited and powered by Nigerian Art gallery, Nesburg Consulting and the Young CEOs business forum.