African Art | Online Course | International certificate | Access 24 hours a day
In the next few minutes, join us on this journey through the History of Art in Africa
The history of art in Africa takes us back to the origins of humanity, the cradle of civilization, the first signs of human cognition, of interacting with the material world and creating visual symbols that represent and interpret them.
Online Course AFRICAN ART
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1. Blombos Cave: Humanity’s first art studio
2. San art in South Africa
3. The Pygmy Schematic Art Zone and the Sandawe ‘Island’
4. Nigerian Rock Gongs
5. When the Sahara was Green
1. The First Urban Centers of the Nile
2. The Formation of Egypt
3. Kingdom of Kush
4. Iron made Cultures of the Niger
5. The Expansion of Bantu people
Islam and Christianity
1. Axum and Christian Ethiopia
2. Eastern Christianity in Núbia
3. The Expansion of Islam in North Africa
4. Islam in the Swahili Coast
5. Catholic Kongo and the Portuguese
Africa in the Modern Era
1. West African Empires
2. Bantu Kingdoms and Cultures
3. Islamic Sultanates and the Kingdom of Ethiopia
4. From the Cabinet of Curiosities to the Natural History Museum
5. The Influence of African Art in Modern Art
The african art history tekes us to the Rift Valley in today’s Kenya and Tanzania, the first modern human migrations spread to the whole of the African continent–an extension covering about 30 million square meters -, creating the first language groups, the four proto-languages from which the about 2000 native languages spoken today in Africa originated. The artistic ability and the recognition and representation of the environment found in rock art throughout Africa are proof that art, like humanity, was born in Africa.
It is important to emphasize the longevity of the history of art in Africa because including African art in the History of Art is recent. History of Art as a field of study created in the 18th century was essentially Eurocentric, placing African art and the art of other continents in the fields of anthropology and archaeology. This was a strategy in tune with the mentality of the time when European nations were asserting themselves as colonizing powers and taking responsibility for the so-called civilizing missions. Scientific theories that placed European men on top of a biological and cultural hierarchy of races justified this. Politics and science mutually supported each other in the formulation of theories to facilitate the scramble and colonization of Africa determined by the Berlin Conference of 1884. For historians of art, focused on European art production and aesthetics, african art and culture
appeared suddenly, initially by the hand of anthropologists and European collectors, and later in the artistic revolution that inspired modern painters and sculptors from around the world, leading them to break the aesthetic norms that up to then guided European concepts of art.
To sum up, telling the history of art in Africa is a monumental task. The chronological and spatial scope, and the frequently polemic issues surrounding the topic, only allows a general overview here. One that includes as many cultures, mediums, materials, representational styles, influences and periods as possible, with little space for deeper developments. The idea is not to emphasize some African civilizations over others, but rather to account for the enormous cultural diversity that African art represents to humankind. We hope, however, that this general overview arouses the curiosity of readers and leads them to further studies and research of specific cultures and periods for their own personal enrichment.