Art of Africa

Edited by The Scala Group
ISBN 9781566499620 (hardcover)
Published in August 2012
MSRP $75.00
This book presents a comprehensive outline of Sub-Saharan African art dating through the last 150 years, and connects a multitude of styles to specific ethnic groups and to spatial-temporal macro-areas that date back thousands of years.
To fully understand the meaning of each Sub-Saharan artifact, we must try to imagine it back in the hands of the person who made it, and contextualize it through the humus of the beliefs and superstitions that played a part in its creation. A recurring theme is the family and divinity, and the relationship between them, which is favored through the offering of sacrifices. The masks used during initiation ceremonies play the role of guaranteeing regularity in family lives and relationships, passing down the foundations of their culture. They were particularly concerned about agricultural and female fertility, which is shown through their art work. Within societies that do not possess a form of writing, art assumes an even more important role in people’s lives. This is because it serves as a substitute for writing, it provides substance and adding to the usual oral method of sharing their traditions. One aspect of this art which Sub-Saharan artists probably didn’t consider was pure aesthetic appearance. In fact, despite the careful workmanship of each piece, we know that none of them were created due to immediate artistic necessity: their aim wasn’t to create a beautiful object. Instead, these works of art strived for social reconstitution, man’s happiness and the survival of the natural world.