The Visual Language of African Art

African art is a large part of culture and had a prominent role in the growth of modern art throughout Europe and the United States. Although African art had significance, it did not offer the meaning that it was originally crafted to hold. Most of the African art that was collected during the 19th Century was help onto due to the lack of understanding that these pieces of art held. Curiosity and confusion were often common in reference to these types of art pieces.

Victorians Saw African Art As Primitive

During the Victorian era many people found African art to be unflattering and even deemed it ugly. Most of these pieces of art were originally only held as artifacts in museums. This sentiment did not last forever as the 20th Century ushered in artists that saw the true beauty of African artwork. Picasso and Braque were at the forefront of this movement, but even though they saw the beauty it was still evident that they were lost to the true meaning behind African art.

The True Meaning Was Discovered

Now historians are finally studying the significance and meaning behind African art and this is some of the visual language that has been discovered:

Object Power

The object of all African artwork has great meaning and a significant purpose. Some of the most common messages conveyed with the use of an object include status, ceremonies or some type of function. Trying to understand the object of art through the lens of western civilization is not effective.

Craftsmanship Matters

African art was created and designed with craftsmanship in mind and the skill of the artist can be evaluated by the level of craftsmanship that is displayed. Higher value can be attached to expert-level craftsmanship.

Some Mystery

The objects of African art are examples of mid-point mimesis. This means that a figure is created to look like a man, but you are not supposed to be able to identify the exact man. This means that African art pieces have a unique balance and are crafted with simplicity in mind. The object is not supposed to be too powerful or distinguishable.

Only The Best

Objects of African art are celebrating only the very best of humanity. It was a strong belief that individuals should only be depicted at their very best and most prosperous years. Youth and vigor are main components of African art for a reason.

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