In the history of human, art is one of the finest expressions of human life. The importance of art is rooted in the relationship between nature and human.
The meaning of art is something other than skill in any African language; this is not limiting African culture. It was because the concept of African art express historical moments of the world. In the western nations, visual art came out of social, intellectual and economic changes but in Africa the reverse is the case. Africa art were created with the aesthetics values intentions. Understanding Africa’s art aesthetic values requires a thorough investigation. African Art has many characteristics. Creative expressionism and abstraction are some of the characteristics of African art.
The Western world appreciating African art has had a big significant on the development of modern art in Europe and United States and it has also been based on the way African art is showcased in a Western museum. Although in the 15th century, artifacts from Africa were taken to Europe, however there was a development in the awareness of Africa art during the colonial periods. The Europeans had interest in collecting African arts based on their admiration for their artistic qualities. African sculptures also serve as an innovation for modern artist.
When we the term art is mentioned, it is often attributed to Africans. African art is more identifiable and there are some reasons emphasis is laid on African art. Let’s get to look at some of these reasons which are not far fetched.
African art played an important role in rebranding the history and culture of the world. This depict that there is truism in the statement “Africa is the cradle of the history of mankind” and this statement is unshakeable. African history origin lie long before history were recorded. Details go into African art because it is full of prehistoric times. For instance, Rock Art discovered in Namibia cave which date back to some hundred thousand years ago explain the first human on earth developing in Africa while shell beads that are 75 000 years old which served as adornment were recovered in a cave in the southern peninsula of South Africa.
A study of African art gives an indication that the earliest forms of sculpture, which are dated around 500BC, discovered are from Nigeria. However, the knowledge of the antiquity of African art and the natural raw materials used in the creation of art objects were the reason so much details went into African art. It also explains the untold wealth of the Africans.
In regard to the status of pre-colonial sub-Saharan art, Africa produces figurative sculptures that the Europeans collectors can identify them with. The human figure sculpture exhibited some formal and strong qualities. The strong design features of the sculptures created balance and harmony combining with a powerful spirituality which attracted early twentieth century artists. These modern artists explore the dynamics in the African visual art and what they studied gave rise to modern abstractionism in visual art.
Africa has lost uncountable pieces of art to the European collectors and many African arts are in the European museum. With the likes of Picasso art, most times people think that arts originated from the European countries but the originator of arts are Africans. Modern artist like Picasso developed his artistic values from African arts abstraction. The Europeans are working on returning stolen African artifacts. However, scholars, governments, investors and institutions took their time to examine the essence of African art after surge from different angles in collecting tribal and contemporary African Art. In studying African art so many details that may be used to shed more light on African art history can be gotten. Examining African art also help in reviving lost traditions and skills from where they came from. African art can also explain the state of every African country in the colonial eras.
Africa art is laid emphasis on because it is a traditional religion agent. Contemporary African religions have over the years influenced the African art forms across the continent. Understanding the principle of religion in Africa requires getting an in-depth knowledge of art because it interconnects humanity to divinity. Religiously, African art is considered a way to contact with the ancestral spirits. African communities view ancestor as an intermediary between the living, the gods, and the supreme creator. Art is also be used to depict gods and is appreciated for its functions. Art works, especially the domination of oral traditions, play a key role in expressing the ideas about the interrelation between the human, the spiritual and natural worlds.
Another reason African art is special is because it encompasses with music, dance, dress, ornamentation, sculpture and masks. It is significant and dynamic. Dance is a form of performing art. The use of artistic masks in dance is something of great concern. More details about the use of masks can be discovered by going into African art. Masks are not just an accompanying instrument of dancing and they also link humanity to divinity. African masks were taking to Europe in the late 19th century because of the colonial expedition that happened then. African mask influenced modern artist like Picasso, Klee and Matisse in the development of modern masks. For instance, African art gave rise to the development of Cubism, the first European mask which is abstract.
Finally, as African art has become appreciated and highly recognized in the Western world, Studies on the diversity of African art is conducted by scholars. Even research on the meanings that African art hold for their creators. Art historians and Anthropologists who have spend their time in conducting research on African traditions and cultures can now feel the weight lift off their shoulders and their work getting shaped by our understanding of African art.