Art is a visual object or experience consciously created through an expression of skills or imagination. The term art embodies diverse media such as painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, printmaking, decorative art, and installation. With that being said, one knows that art is in every society across all the continents of the globe, in these various forms.
African art describes the modern and historical paintings, sculptures, installations, and other visual cultures from native or indigenous Africans and the African continent. This may also include the art of African diasporas such as African-American, Caribbean, or in South American societies inspired by African traditions. The art form may vary from one region to another because of religious and traditional differences.
Sculpture, metalwork, architecture, masquerade, and fiber art are very important forms in African art.
African art often focuses on the following themes: artistic creativity or expressive individualism, emphasis on the human figure, and visual abstraction. Most African artworks are in wood sculptures, probably because wood is a very widely spread material. Jewelry art is also used to indicate ranks or affiliations, or solely for aesthetics. Sculpture can be made of wood, ceramic, or carved out of stones, mud potters, and textiles.
Traditional African religions have had a huge influence on African art. It often roots in themes of religious symbolism, functionalism, and utilitarianism.
Africa was only seen as home to traditional art due to socio-economic situations. African contemporary art was understudied until recently, due to scholars’ and art collectors’ emphasis on African traditional Art. Notable modern African artists include El Anatsui, Marlene Dumas, William Kendridge, Karel Nel, Kendell Geers, Yinka Shonibare, Zerihun Yetmgeta, Odhiambo Siangla, Elias Jengo, Olu Oguibe, Lubaina Himid, Bili Bidjocka, Henry Tayali, Fathi Hassan, and Ibrahim El Salahi. With the art biennials being held in Dakar (Senegal) and Johannesburg(South Africa), contemporary African artists are being discovered internationally. Even though many of them sell their artworks at high prices and are represented in museums and galleries, the vast majority still struggle in finding a market for their artwork.
With the advancement of technology, more and more African artists are becoming more known, which makes Africa home of thriving contemporary art fine, and culture.
Here are some of the prominent artists of the younger generation who are taking African art to the next level: Laolu Senbanjo, Orama Elewa, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Patrick Quarm, Otis Kwame Key Quaicoe, Kehinde Wiley, Mickalene Thomas, Concalo Mabunda, Oluwole Omofemi, and Destinee Ross-Sutton (curator).