Gallery of African Art
Africa exemplifies a wide range of arts and crafts that emphasizes the aesthetic and functionality practiced by many indigenous groups. Much of African arts and crafts can be constructed in an array of materials such as metal, stone, and clay, as well as, gourds, hides, plant fibers, seeds, shells, and bone.
Even with the amount of material African artists and craftsmen are able to use; the most prevalent material used to construct art is wood. Wood is used to form sculptures, masks, musical instruments, carvings, weapons, basketry, and much more. African art forms have many meanings and can relate to many themes including politics, entertainment, philosophy, or religion. Though these art forms are highly diverse, there are a few overlapping themes that are consistent throughout a majority of African art forms. These themes include but are not limited to, emphasis on human and animal forms, abstract appearance, 3D sculpture, and animism. Although African art is structured through traditions; individual artists and craftsmen have the ability to form creative and original works of art. This gallery of African art displays the wide diversity of art that can be found throughout African cultures.
Emphasis on the human and animal form: Human figures comprise a major focus of African visual and decorative arts. These human forms may represent living or deceased individuals and often are highly symbolic. Depictions of African cultural leaders, performers, or mythical figures are common. Male and female subjects are clearly distinguished through exaggerated body features and representations can vary across cultures.
Emphasis on the abstract form: African works of art typically demonstrate visual abstraction instead of a naturalistic form. Many artistic traditions simplify stylistic norms because the crafted object is generally intended to carry thoughts or feelings. The supernatural, ancestral figures and spiritual representations are all common subject matters, all of which might be tough or impossible to paint appropriately or realistically. As a substitute, African arts and crafts have been intended to provoke a concept or conjure a particular message.
Emphasis on 3D sculpture form: African artists regularly choose to work with three-dimensional arts and crafts over two-dimensional works. Most African sculptures are not decorative objects to be offered inside the marketplace but rather they are often intended to commemorate ceremonial occasions, represent religious values, or to make a political statement. As such, aesthetic traits are not marked to be of the utmost significance in African sculpture, rather they are valued by their capacity to successfully fulfill their purpose as a communication tool.
Animism: Dating back as far as the Paleolithic age, the notion of animism is among the oldest of human beliefs. From its beginnings, animism was the belief that all objects, places, and creatures own a soul or spiritual presence. It is important to note that animism is a religion and although the terminology is outdated it is still used by archeologists to describe aboriginal beliefs. Most African cultures embrace beliefs that rely heavily on the spirit world, which is can be seen through traditional and modern arts and crafts such as masks and sculptures. It is with the belief of animism that many indigenous groups use masks and sculptures in religious ceremonies to communicate with ancestors.