African art and African society are two related concepts. Art plays a very significant role in the lives of Africans. Understanding the basics of traditional African art gives us the key to the understanding of African culture, but despite this, knowledge of ordinary people about African art is extremely limited. That is why the purpose of this article is to make you aware of African art and culture or to be more precise with traditional African sculpture.
African Art includes various regional schools, it covers several historical periods and, nevertheless, it is a single historical type, characterized by integrity stylistic features.
By the end of 19th-century European artists considered African art as his mentally retarded younger brother. They thought that these masterpieces were nothing more than work of barbaric and primitive cultures, but with the arrival of a new generation of artists, more attention is paid to African art. This strange style of sculptures was interesting even for Picasso. Because of this African art simply could not be longer ignored. Later, scientists discovered certain essential features of African art.
First, unlike the Europeans, Africans have never made art for art's sake. Any product had to have practical value (for example, sacred or ritual). Often sculpture played the role of guardian of diseases or other disasters. Sometimes they helped to identify the property status of the person. Second, the craftsmanship in the art was very respected in the African society and art objects were really valuable. Third, almost all the sculptures were created in the style of mid-point mimesis. This means that the sculpture can be both identified and unidentified simultaneously (you should understand that this is a sculpture of men, but you cannot identify what a specific man it is. One of the main features of any sculptures was crisp lines and forms (especially the lips, eyes, nose). European artists especially rapidly used this technique. In most sculptures, an emotional proportion supersedes natural proportions. Furthermore, most of the sculptures depicted people in their prime to show their possible danger.
In general, analysing the major features of African sculpture, you can involuntarily find its influence on European art. Indeed, over time, African art has made a conscious contribution to the development of styles like cubism, abstractionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, etc., and, finally, I can say only one thing, African art is clearly not barbarous.
African art and African society are two related concepts. Art plays a very significant role in the lives of Africans. Understanding the basics of traditional African art gives us the key to the understanding of African culture, but despite this, knowledge of ordinary people about African art is extremely limited.