What Is African Art History?

Art|Art History

African Art History is a broad field that encompasses many different cultures, countries, and time periods. It is an incredibly diverse and complex topic that has been explored by scholars for centuries. African Art History can be divided into two major periods: traditional and contemporary.

Traditional African Art History

Traditional African art history is the study of indigenous African art from pre-colonial times to the present. This includes traditional masks, sculptures, textiles, jewelry, pottery, body art, and more.

Traditional art forms vary from region to region and often reflect the beliefs and customs of a particular culture. For example, in West Africa, masks are commonly used in rituals and ceremonies to represent spirits or ancestors. In East Africa, textiles are used to express social status or to tell a story.

Contemporary African Art History

Contemporary African art history is the study of modern art forms that have been influenced by traditional practices as well as more recent world events such as colonialism and globalization. This includes works of both abstract and figurative art in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, photography, film, installation art, performance art, digital media arts, etc.

Many contemporary artists draw on their cultural heritage while also incorporating elements from other cultures or styles in their work. Examples include South African artist William Kentridge whose politically charged drawings combine Surrealism with his own personal vision; Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui who creates elaborate installations out of discarded materials; or Cameroonian photographer Samuel Fosso who uses photography to explore themes of identity and power dynamics.

African Art History encompasses a wide variety of styles spanning multiple time periods and regions across the continent. From traditional masks used in spiritual ceremonies to contemporary works exploring themes of identity and power dynamics – African Art History is an ever-evolving field that continues to be explored by scholars around the world today.