Ancient African Art and Art History

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  • GuideToArtHistory

    FamousArtistsArtStylesandPeriodsArtMediumsAncientArt

    IntroductiontoAncientAfricanArtByArtHistory.net

    TheartofAfricacoversabroadregion,ofcourse,andalsoencompassesawidearrayofartforms.Accordingtomostexpertdefinitions,AfricanartgenerallyomitstheartofNorthAfrica(especiallyregionsthatbordertheMediterraneanSea),ChristianartofEthiopia,andtheancientartofEgyptwhicharediscussedasmovementsoftheirownwithuniquetraditions.Evenso,thisbroadgroupingalsorepresentsartfromprehistorictimestothepresent.WithinthisscopetherearemanysubdivisionsandimportanterasofAfricanart.

    Africanarthasitsoriginsinprehistory.SomerockartrecentlydiscoveredinSouthAfricaneartheCapemaybeolderthan70,000yearsold.Thecontinentishometoalargebodyofprehistoricrockart.TraditionalAfricanartiscomprisedofartformssuchasmasks,jewelry,carvings,rockart,sculpture,textiles,metalwork,andmuchmore.Manynationsareassociatedwithparticularartforms.Forexample,variouspeoplesofMaliandCoted'Ivoirearerenownedfortheirtraditionalmasksandheaddresses.Tanzania'sMakondeartoffinecarvingcontinuestobereveredtoday.

    MasksandstatuettesmakeupalargeproportionofAfricanartingeneral.Oftenmadefromwoodanddecoratedwithpigmentsandothernaturalitemslikecowrieshellsorivory,theseitemstypicallyplayedaceremonialorevenreligiousrolefortheculturesthatcreatedthem.ManyAfricanartworkswerecreatedwithreligiousandspiritualunderpinningsothersmighthavebeencreatedwithancestorsinmind.AsignificantbodyofAfricanartcouldbesaidtorepresentthethemeofpowerwhileothersweresimplycreatedtoshowoffthewealthofsomeofAfrica'sroyalcourts.

    Asidefromrockart,sculpture,andmasks,artformslikebeadworkandtextileshaveplayedimportantrolesinAfrica'scollectivearts.JewelryhashistoricallybeenimportanttomanyofAfrica'stribesfordesignatingstatusorplaceinsociety.Inalargercontext,Africanartalsoincludesoraltraditions,basketry,dance,andwritingsystems.Africaboastsarichfolklorictraditionaswell.

    Africa'straditionalartshaveevolved,ofcourse,andtodaythecontinentenjoysarichtapestryofcontemporaryarts.Manyoftheartformsbuilduponpasttraditionsyetemploymodernsensibilitiestoo.SomecontemporaryAfricanartexhibitsglobalinfluences.ManymajorcitiesthroughoutAfricaboastimportantartcentersandmuseumsthathousemanyofAfrica'sgreatworksfrombothpastandpresent.African

  • artisalsohighlycollectiblethroughouttheworld.

    SeeAlso:CulturalEventsinHistory

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