What is the history of African art

Africa

Prof. Till Förster

To person

Prof. Till Förster, born in 1955, studied ethnology and art history, is professor for ethnology at the University of Basel. He has been working on the subject of art in Africa for a long time and has carried out research for several years, including in Côte d´Ivoire and Cameroon.

Today's African art cannot be located between the two poles of tradition and modernity. Contemporary works refer to older and local as well as regional and global currents. They are evidence of the creative engagement of the people of Africa with today's world. The works include all artistic genres: for example sculpture, sculpture or painting.

An ebony sculpture in Togoville, Togo. (& copy José A. Warletta, SXC.hu)

introduction

African art has always had a history. Even before the imperialist penetration of the interior of Africa in the 19th century, African artists and craftsmen grappled with what was known to them from other parts of the world. In the course of the 20th century, an art emerged in Africa that is neither based solely on the older art of the continent, nor purely reproduces what was created in the centers of the modern art world.

The distinction that is common today between ancient and contemporary African art is due in no small part to the image that one has made of unchangeable traditions on the one hand and of art in Africa that is catching up with Western modernism on the other. In fact, today's art on the continent cannot be located between the two poles of tradition and modernity. Contemporary African art refers to older and local as well as regional and global currents. It is therefore independent and proof of the creative engagement of the people of Africa with today's world. It encompasses all artistic genres from sculpture, sculpture and painting to photography and film to collages, performances and conceptual art.