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African Art

The best books, eBooks, articles media and open access resources for the art of Africa.

Overview of African Art

Benin MaskVisual, performing, and literary arts of sub-Saharan Africa. What gives art in Africa its special character is the generally small scale of most of its traditional societies, in which one finds a bewildering variety of styles. The earliest evidence of visual art is provided by figures scratched and painted on rocks c. 3000 BC.

Pastoral cultures in the east emphasize personal adornment; sculpture predominates in the agricultural societies in the west and south. Clay figurines found in Nigeria date to 500 BC.

Metalworking was practiced from the 9th century AD. Sculptures in stone, ivory, and wood date from the 16th-17th centuries; some of the finest wood sculptures date from the 20th century.

From CREDO African Arts: Encyclopaedia Brittanica.

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