How African Art Has Changed and Inspire European Art

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 913 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Jun 20, 2019

Words: 913|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Jun 20, 2019

In this essay, I would like to discuss how African art has changed and inspire European art. African art is a beautiful and deeply interesting kind of art, full of traditions and spirituality. During the time this art has influenced a lot of artists to such as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.

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This is a wonderful thing but these artists couldn't represent the meaning and the spirituality deriving from it. They have embraced the technics, use of the colours and methods very well but there was still a lack of traditions and bealives.

I will introduce and analyse two different artist Jean Michael Basquiat and Hank Willis Thomas, explaining the differences between African art and African art influenced by europian and American styles.

the second part of this essay will explain the difference between African art produced by Africans and African works produced by Europeans.

Akan peoples

This first sculpture is a good representation of fertility, In the wooden sculpture of the Asante family, fertility and children are very popular themes, the piece represents a royal mother nursing the child. Why a royal mother? The figure is not an ordinary woman, she's a queen mother as shes wearing sandals and seating in the state on formal occasions; a regular woman will be represented on her knees or without shoes. The Asante family is a long dynasty of clan ruling southern Ghana. The sculpture not only expresses nurturing but also the concept of family and the continuity of a matrilineage through daughters since in Asante tradition the only purpose in a woman life was to bear children.

Chris Ofili. The Raising of Lazarus

This art piece is very simple, almost superficial but at the same time full of rich tones, like black, red and green; the figures are almost unreadable because this painting is very influenced by dance.

The dance is an incarnation, is like the figures represented are very pretty and delicate; the irregular lines are very sinuous that they can evoke a sense of sensuality in the bodies. The choise of colours is very specific and intresting, the artist decided to chose five coloures that in african art are very dominant, all of this coloures rappresent something.

In this kind of art, red symbolized violence and sacrifices, African artist chose red to represent the struggle that they were made for their independence, and sometimes can also be used to give a sense of fertility and life. Black can be seen as a death and darkness but in other countries like Kenya it can be symbolise prosperity because it reminds of the dark clouds of the rain. White represents eternal life and God. Yellow is prosperity and gold.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Glenn

Basquiat is one of the most naif painters of the widely celebrated Neo-Expressionism art movement. His art appeared simple and complicated at the same time a first impact will let you think that his style is almost childish for the use of very bright colours and unrealistic figures, but it's not.

Its all about disparate traditions, practices and style create visual collage between African-Caribbean heritage and urban origins.His work is an example of how American artists of the 1980s could reintroduce the human figure in their work after the wide success of Minimalism and Conceptualism, thus establishing a dialogue with the more distant tradition of 1950s Abstract Expressionism.

The artist appropriates Africa by taking bones, skull and arrows and then adding his Neo-Expressionist touch.

The objects represented are irregular, scribbled, suspended from nothing as if they were hallucinations. Basquiat demonstrates in his work that his art is thought of and yet effortless, almost improvised.

Guenn is the result of a canvas with dominant colours and lit in the schematic figures with faces similar to masks, surrounded by signs, symbols and words, its pungent theories on cultural and social reality reach the inevitable construction of a composition worthy of the best experimental jazz. His works are not represented as simple graffiti with markers and spray enamel, but works of art that are built with oil, acrylic and visual collage, so that his best paintings are trapped between opposing aesthetic and expressive forces: schematic control and spontaneity, anger and humour, civilization and primitivism. And so the art of the road invades his mind because beauty knows no bounds and Basquiat knew it well.

Jordan Moore Saggese says that Basquiat is between African American art because it is the product of those who have African origins but grew up and educated in a western society.

His art brings out the diversity of both cultures.

Basquiat is hanging from his African origins and the western culture imposed on him.

Looking carefully at Basquiat's works we can perceive that the artist is trying to go beyond his origins and westerns in order to find his only place in contemporary art.

This great contrast between African and American art is also influenced by texts inspired by American art historian Robert Farris Thompson, who provided the artist with a model of productive ambiguity; that did not really help Basquiat practices.

When I read Basquiat's solely, they are racist implications when it comes to Basquiat credibility to witness

'He had to be' 'skinned alive' 'Hebdige claims. Bleached of his blackness and delivered into the hands of his right foster parents

In other words, notwithstanding his art, perhaps considered acceptable, the colour of his skin had to 'change' to be accepted into the canon of art history.

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No matter what he was always seen as an outsider. He never had a solo exhibition during his lifetime and was barely mentioned as an African American artist.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

How African Art Has Changed And Inspire European Art. (2019, Jun 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 2, 2024, from
“How African Art Has Changed And Inspire European Art.” GradesFixer, 12 Jun. 2019,
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