Introduction Diverse –Full of people, societies, and civilizations –Unique cultures
Unifying Artistic Themes Emphasis on human figure –Sapi culture near Ivory Coast in West Africa created ivory saltcellars Influence from Portuguese traders –Common theme: intermorphosis of human and animal
(cont.) Visual Abstraction –Favored over naturalistic representation –Many African artworks generalize stylistic norms –African art often depicts nature (animals, plant life, natural designs) in abstract interpretations Emphasis on Sculpture –Favor 3D artwork over 2D artwork –House paintings often seen as continuous design wrapped around a house –Decorating cloths worn as garments– wearer as a living sculpture
(cont.) Emphasis on Performance Art –African art displays animation; readiness to move; crafted for performance –Ceremonial masks and costumes Nonlinear scaling –Often, a small part of an African design will look similar to a larger part –Diamonds at different scales in Kasai pattern
Influences Arab Conquest of North Africa –7 th century CE –Conversion to Islam; assimilation into Arab communities –Helped in Arab conquest of Spain in 8 th century
Influences Influence on Western Art –Inspired artists like Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh, and Gauguin at start of 20 th century –Demonstrated power of well organized forms– not only by sight but also by imagination, emotion, and religious experience –Explosion of interest in abstraction, organization, and reorganization of forms
Nok Culture The Nok culture appeared in Nigeria around 1000 B.C. and mysteriously vanished around 500 AD in the region of West Africa. The terracotta figures are hollow, coil built, nearly life sized human heads and bodies that are depicted with highly stylized features, abundant jewelry, and varied postures.
The human and animal figures made of terracotta that have been found in the region are the earliest known sculptures of sub- Saharan Africa. The heads of the figures are several times larger than the heads of real human beings. Most African sculpture the head is emphasized because it is the most vital part of the body.
Ife Figures Eleventh-twelfth centuries These figures are made from zinc and brass. The head was emphasized as a seat of intelligence. Usually was decorated in large amounts of jewelry
Benin Figures cast-metal work perfected by the Ife people, is continued from the 15th century in Benin Almost all of the bronze pieces from benign Kingdom was created to honor the king, or Oba
Ivory Belt Mask Made of Ivory and Iron. Created in Benin(1440– 1897), an African state in present day Nigeria. based on Queen Idia, the mother of Oba Esigie the ruler of the Benin Kingdom from 1504 -1550
General Characteristics Favor visual abstraction over naturalistic representation in order to generalize stylistic norms Makes use of highly abstracted and regimented visual canons, especially in painting Uses different colors to represent the qualities and characteristics of an individual being depicted
General Characteristics (cont.) Emphasis on human figure The human figure may symbolize the living or the dead, may reference chiefs, dancers, or various trades such as drummers or hunters, or even may be an anthropomorphic representation of a god or have other votive function.
The Inevitable by Ibrahim El Salahi This is one of the finest creations by African Artist Ibrahim El Salahi. Salahi has infused thoughts of modernism along with the Sudanese traditions to make an art form that has a universal appeal.
The Inevitable (cont.) This painting is more or less a depiction of the time he spent in prison. The nine sections in this painting represent the different phases of his incarceration, and it also symbolizes the civil upheaval and strife that devastated Sudan after the collapse of British rule. Arab and Coptic motifs have been extensively used to give a feel of distorted faces. Arms and fists depict an uprising against injustice.
The Inevitable (cont.) Although the painting is in a monochrome format, the lack of color is not felt. With absolute no-negative space, this piece of art is bold, sharp and progressive.
Semakazi by Willie Bester Bester is a yet another progressive thinker who has tried to depict the condition of migrant workers in South Africa. The art work outlines the fact that during those times, none of the migrant workers received a pension or a secure and respectable retirement, once their tenure was over.
Semakazi (cont.) This painting is a collage of images depicting various aspects of his life. At the center, there is his bed which has been shown in the form of a prison. To the left of the bed, there is an image of a family which clearly states that Willie always aspired to lead a family life. In the foreground, there is a bible which has been connected to the bed by a chain. –Symbolizes that during those times, African nations were run on Christian beliefs.
Healing of Abiku Children by Twins Seven Seven Created by the world renowned Nigerian painter who works under the pseudonym of Twins Seven Seven influenced by the Yoruba mythology and culture to a large extent
Healing of Abiku Children (cont.) Included human figures along with one of the most revered Yoruba gods, with magical powers to cure people Depicts a village scene where kids from far away lands have been brought to get cured
Healing of Abiku Children (cont.) Each kid is getting cured with the help of solutions prepared by the healer Brown hues and circular lines highlight the orthodox nature of the artist and his strong belief in the traditions of his civilization Most importantly, this painting depicts the strong inclination of people to associate to the Yoruba gods for respite to their problems.
General Characteristics Built to be as cool and comfortable as possible –Used mud-brick walls and thatched roofs –Mud-brick has to be constantly maintained in the rainy season, so they built in horizontally placed timbers as maintenance ladders
Great Mosque of Djenné Made of adobe—baked mixture of clay and straw Wooden beams serve as decoration and as permanent ladders for building maintenance
Great Mosque of Djenné (cont.) Ceramic half-pipes extend from roofline and direct rain water away from the walls Parts of a mosque- Quibla wall on northeast side
Ruins of Great Zimbabwe Ancient city that was once the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe “Zimbabwe” is Bantu for “stone building” Unusual because African culture generally avoided stonework –Nothing to suggest skilled stoneworkers Built in the 14 th century
Ruins of Great Zimbabwe (cont.) Ruins cover almost 1800 acres Prosperous trading center Probably a royal residence inside Great Enclosure Walls 30 feet high –Made of granite blocks
Ruins of Great Zimbabwe (cont.) Political debate about origins of the Ruins European colonists believed that the Shona civilization was not sophisticated enough to build such a complex White-supremacist gov’t of Zimbabwe in 1900s officially declared it was made by foreigners More modern archaeologists proved by the mid 1900s that it was actually created by the ancient African civilization Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Essential feature of the traditional culture and art of the peoples of Sub-Saharan and West Africa Mask-making is an art that is passed on from father to son, along with the knowledge of the symbolic meanings conveyed by such masks
African masks were a very important part of the African Culture, although masks are alot less common now, then it was in earlier times. People think that masks are used as a disguise, or a costume, like on Halloween. But Africans wore their masks in ceremonies.
Masks are usually made of materials like: wood, cloth, dried leaves, or even animal fur. For decoration, Africans used things such as; bird feathers, dried grass, paint, and twigs. The type of material used really depends on what the Africans were trying to represent. Usually the Africans were trying to represent humans, important animals in their culture, mythical creatures, or gods/goddesses that they believed in.
The ceremonies were held to honor the dead, gods/goddesses, animals, and even important people in their society like the king. Masks were never played with. This was because Africans believed that masks were very powerful. Often represent a spirit and it is strongly believed that the spirit of the ancestors possesses the wearer.
Masks of human ancestors or totem ancestors (beings or animals to which a clan or family traces its ancestry) are often objects of family pride
Ceremony: During the mask ceremony the dancer goes into deep trance, and during this state of mind he "communicate" with his ancestors. A wise man or translator sometimes accompanies the wearer of the mask during the ritual. The dancer brings forth messages of wisdom from his ancestors. Rituals and ceremonies are always accompanied with song, dance and music, played with traditional African musical instruments.
Masks are one of the elements of African art that have most evidently influence European and Western art in general. In the 20th century, artistic movements such as cubism and expressionism have often taken inspiration from the vast and diverse heritage of African masks.
Ivory Belt Mask C.1550 ivory/iron Worn by king “Oba”, King of Benin Mudfish design- represents royalty because they live on land and sea, king is both human and divine
Introduction Symbolic expressions of codes and identity –Worn as sign of beauty, wealth, status Jewelry is believed to be able to “protect” and “heal” the wearer Materials: –Pendants, colored enamel, precious/ semi- precious stones, beads, amber
Variations To suit needs of different wearers, objects can be borrowed, reworked, and altered Regional styles of ornamentation as artists experimented with new materials –Rural areas: Made of silver Geometric forms and decorations –Urban areas: Made of gold Floral, arabesque, rounded designs
Khamsa Pendant Moroccon hand pendant (khamsa) of silver and copper with six-pointed star A protective symbol in North Africa was the hand –Hand-shaped pendants known as khamsa Five fingers relate to the five pillars of Islam– making it a protective amulet or charm
Hand Pendant (Khamsa) Hand Pendant with Salamander Motif Morocco Variation of Khamsa –Salamander: represents transformation and disguise; also relates to element of fire
Fibula (Tabzimt) Algeria; late 19th century; made of silver, enamel and coral Silver linked to honesty and purity Coral associated with life-sustaining blood– prized for healing properties –Promote fertility –Prevent harm to children
Role of Beads Beads cherished since ancient times –Strung on fiber cord/ metal wire to make jewelry –Stitched to African clothing –Used to decorate sculpture Role in personal lives of Africans –Valued as currency –Used as artistic medium –Used in court life Beads and royalty
Variety of Materials Shell beads (Heishi and Cowrie Shells) Stone beads Coral beads Clay (terra cotta beads) Metal beads Glass beads