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African Art: Introduction

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Introduction

 

 

 
 

 

 

The vast African continent, which has radically divergent topography, climate, and natural resources, is populated by over one thousand cultural groups. People of many ethnic and language families throughout Africa create beautiful objects used in ceremonies that connect man and nature and insure the continuity of traditions and values across many generations.

The objects we call African art were created for a purpose different from the art of North Africa and Europe. Although there is an evolving aesthetic in Africa art, African artists generally work within religious and social constructs that determine form and materials. This strong societal connection produces a continuity of art across many generations. 

The African artist attempts to capture the spirit and power of the subject rather than create a realistic image. The artist is a craftsman who has been carefully schooled in the laws, moral codes, and history of each culture. 

The core of African artistic expression is composed of human figures, animal imagery and geometric patterns. In reality African art is not art but cultural object with a purpose. Its purpose is to instruct the people and facilitate communication between the people and the supernatural forces that influence their lives. 

 

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