African art is the creation of the people in the South of the Sahara. Art is an integral part of the everyday life of Africans. It is used for dialogue, personal therapy and to communicate with the gods and ancestors. The history of African art is very rich, with an enormous collection of art forms. African art originated way back in 500 B.C., in a village of Nigeria. The African sculpture was first unearthed along with exclusive pottery in the village. The ancient African art forms are mainly masks and figures, used in religious ceremonies. The material used for most of these African Art forms was wood. The wood was decorated with clay, shells, ivory, beads, metal and feathers.
Western and Central Africa are considered the richest regions in indigenous art . They are known for different styles of art forms of the African culture. The western Sudan and Guinea coast is famous for its abstract wood- carvings.
Nigeria is well known for the terracotta statuettes found in the Nok culture era of the 5th century B.C. These statuettes are mainly human figures made in terracotta. The history of African art is a contribution by the various tribes, which presented the art different forms and styles. These tribes are known even today for their contribution. The small tribes of the Cameroon grasslands are popular for their bold and expressive woodcarvings that include large house posts, masks and objects used in rituals. All African cultures use decorative textiles and tools.
The history of African art has had a huge influence on western artists. They recognized the intrinsic and aesthetic value of African sculpture. The enduring qualities of African art came to light in the 20th century and since then, it has been a source of inspiration for many western artists.
by Jason Gluckman