understand African art and the people one has to take the history of
Africa seriously, this requires careful and cautious scrutiny of African
culture and tradition.
fascinating new breakthroughs in archaeological and anthropological
investigations into African art, empires and societies, scientifically
proves that the past great cultures of sub-Sahara Africa – Nok, Igbo,
Benin, Akan Zimbabwe and South
Africa (Mapungubwe) amongst other
represented complex societies and during the same period great parts of
Europe were still living in the dark ages. Bearing the above in mind
Africans and people from around the world are now better able to
appreciate the complex diversity and incredible creativity of past and
present African civilizations.
shed light on the above it is important to understand how the western
world portrays Africa past and present. Historians, a few artists, the
media, amongst others still continue to willfully delude the masses by
scant references to Africa however, no one can erase the facts from the
pages of history. A history we as Africans should be proud of, a history
that we as Africans should rewrite in order to set the record straight.
are some some of the blatant untruths of the past.
Hume during the middle of the 18th century wrote and
maintained, “That one can survey the length and breadth of sub-Sahara
Africa and find not even one work of visual or written art worthy of the
went further and wrote in the second edition of his book “That all of
black Africa contained no arts, no sciences"
years later Immanuel Kant wrote in an essay “blackness
denotes not only ugliness but stupidity as well”
was only in 1937 after years of denial that Picasso in a conversation
with Andre Malraux not reported publicly until 1974 admitted the African
presence in his work.
Picasso stated: "I have felt my strongest artistic emotions,
when suddenly confronted with the sublime beauty of sculptures executed
by the anonymous artists of Africa. These works of a religious
passionate, and rigorously logical art are the most powerful and most
beautiful things the human imagination has ever produced.
I hasten to
add that, nevertheless, I detest exoticism"
is now an accepted fact that African art resuscitated European art that
was dying a slow death from a lack of creative ability. It is beyond a
shadow of a doubt that African art inspired Europe to the eventual birth
of Modern Art.