Presentation on theme: "AFRICAN ARTAFRICAN ART -Has been around for centuries -Found in burial chambers and shrines -Ceremonial masks, totems, sculptures, bowls, etc. -Used materials."— Presentation transcript:
AFRICAN ARTAFRICAN ART -Has been around for centuries -Found in burial chambers and shrines -Ceremonial masks, totems, sculptures, bowls, etc. -Used materials such as copper, bronze, ivory, terra cotta, wood, and others THE QUESTION: If Africans demonstrated such sophisticated manipulation of materials into beautiful pieces of art dating back for hundreds of years, and these art forms, as you will see, have influenced European artistic culture, can it still be claimed that they were “uncivilized” before European colonization?
Modernism: The big change from the Victorian Era. During the Victorian Era: -Believed in seeing/experiencing the world from a single perspective -This is seen in Victorian art -Vanishing points -Presented 3-dimensional portraits by using a fore, middle, and background -Saw world divided into the “civilized” and “savage” “According to Victorians, the "civilized" were those from industrialized nations, cash-based economies, Protestant Christian traditions, and patriarchal societies; the "savage" were those from agrarian or hunter-gatherer tribes, barter-based economies, "pagan" or "totemistic" traditions, and matriarchal... societies.” -Catherine Lavender Modernists turned away from these views: -They were humanists -They claimed that things could be seen from multiple perspectives -What radical statement does this make about claiming a culture “uncivilized?” -That even if your way of living is different from mine, that doesn’t make you “uncivilized.”
The modernist movement summarized by Catherine Lavender, a professor at the Univ. of New York: “Modernists reversed the values associated with each kind of culture. Modernists presented the Victorian "civilized" as greedy and warmongering (instead of being industrialized nations and cash-based economies), as hypocrites (rather than Christians), and as enemies of freedom and self-realization (instead of good patriarchs). Those that the Victorians had dismissed (and subjugated) as "savages" the Modernists saw as being the truly civilized--responsible users of their environments, unselfish and family-oriented, generous, creative, mystical and full of wonder, and egalitarian. These "savages," post- WWI Modernists pointed out, did not kill millions with mustard gas, machine-guns, barbed wire, and genocidal starvation.”
Key Movements of Modern Art: -Cubism -Fauvism Some Modern Artists Influenced by Africa: -Pablo Picasso -Henri Matisse -Maurice de Vlaminck -Amedeo Modigliani -George Braque
Pablo Picasso Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907-09) -Along with Georges Braque pioneered the cubist artistic style -First cubist work was Les Demoiselles d’Avignon -5 nudes around a still life -3 on the left are in classical poses, but with distorted forms -Picasso has destroyed the traditional painting of the flawless female figure -What kind of a statement could he be making? -2 on the right introduce the idea of multiple perspectives at once, they appear as if they are wearing masks (African influence?) -They represent “savage” humans vs. the “civilized” women on the left -Does not have the traditional fore, middle, and background -This is Picasso’s idea: representing 3-dimensional scenes on a 2-dimensional plane
Women Playing the Mandolin (Picasso, 1909) Houses at L’Estaque (Braque, 1908) Still Life With a Mandolin and a Guitar (Picasso, 1924) C U BI S M
Le Fauves (The Wild Beasts) “...characterized by brilliant color, expressive brushwork, and flat composition...” -Short lived artistic movement (1904-1908) -Mainly led by Henri Matisse and Maurice de Vlaminck -Instead of showing the geometric influence of African art, they incorporated the bold lines and colors seen in African culture The Green Stripe (1912)
Music: Another Art Form Influenced by African Culture -What instrument comes to mind when you think: African Music? -Do you see African influence on modern music and BEATS?
Chinua Achebe In “An Image of Africa,” Achebe directly mentions the way Africa was the source of inspiration for the Modernist movement, and uses this as evidence that Africa was not just a continent full of “savages.” “But more important...is the abundant testimony about [Africans] which we could gather...which might lead us to think that these people must have had other occupations besides merging into the evil forest or materializing out of it simply to plague [Europeans]. For as it happened, soon after Conrad had written his book an event of far greater consequence was taking place in the art world of Europe. This is how Frank Willett, a British art historian, describes it: Gauguin had gone to Tahiti, the most extravagant individual act of turning to a non-European culture in the decades immediately before and after 1900, when European artists were avid for new artistic experiences, but it was only about 1904-5 that African art began to make its distinctive impact. One piece is still identifiable; it is a mask that had been given to Maurice Vlaminck in 1905. He records that Derain was "speechless" and "stunned" when he saw it, bought it from Vlaminck and in turn showed it to Picasso and Matisse, who were also greatly affected by it. Ambroise Vollard then borrowed it and had it cast in bronze... The revolution of twentieth century art was under way!(5)”5
“The real question is the dehumanization of Africa and Africans which this age-long attitude has fostered and continues to foster in the world.” -Chinua Achebe, An Image of Africa “I received two very touching letters from high school children in Yonkers, New York, who...had just read Things Fall Apart. One of them was particularly happy to learn about the customs and superstitions of an African tribe. I propose to draw from these rather trivial encounters rather heavy conclusions which at first sight might seem somewhat out of proportion to them: But only at first sight. The young fellow from Yonkers, perhaps partly on account of his age but I believe also for much deeper and more serious reasons, is obviously unaware that the life of his own tribesmen in Yonkers, New York, is full of odd customs and superstitions and, like everybody else in his culture, imagines that he needs a trip to Africa to encounter those things.” -Chinua Achebe, An Image of Africa
“...Sieglinde Lemke has argued that there could have been no modernism without ‘primitivism’—a term, I confess, that I detest - and no ‘primitivism’ without modernism. They are the ego and the id of modern art.” -Unknown (http://www.ethnographica.com/african_art_and_europe.htm )http://www.ethnographica.com/african_art_and_europe.htm Going back to Freud... Which is the ego and which is the id?
Cubism Evoking Emotional Reactions SYMBOLISM Picasso’s Guernica -Picasso began his artistic career painting realistically -The evolution to this seeming ugly way of painting forms was a CHOICE -His work envelopes the idea of objectivity in art and culture
THE QUESTION: If Africans demonstrated such sophisticated manipulation of materials into beautiful pieces of art dating back for hundreds of years, and these art forms, as you will see, have influenced European artistic culture, can it still be claimed that they were “uncivilized” before European colonization?