Colonialism and African Art

Posted by Ana on November 23rd, 2014 | post in Uncategorized |No comment

Although African art history goes back 26000 years, the better known artwork to most people started in the nineteenth century. African artist and their work caught the eye of the Western artists, scholars, and collectors during this period because Europeans started collecting many of the artworks from the areas of the world that they desired to colonize. The most famous African art in Europe and the United States today are linked to the campaigns of imperial nations that defeated most regions in Africa.

For example, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City collected more than 49 metric tons of materials (not only artworks, but also flora and fauna specimens) in the beginning of the twentieth century.

Although the United States did not colonize Africa, this sort of large scale plundering shows colonial belief that viewed the cultural and natural resources of Africa as gullible.

Colonial attitudes also described and analyzed African art.

Of course a lot of the racism and misunderstanding of the colonial era has been replaced by more educated attitudes. Intellectuals working in Africa, Europe and the United States are still trying very hard to purify and estimate the study of African art because it was so strongly influenced by the colonial moment.

The past African art that was labeled as “primitive art,” is not true to the art. These artworks were only called Primitive because of the fact that explorers who first came in contact with the African artwork were completely unaware of the African culture.  🙂

To be continued…..

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