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African Art History

African Art History

The source of the African art can be traced back to the time when recorded history did not exist. The oldest form of art in Africa is the rock art, found in the Saharan region in Niger and does preserve 6000 year old carvings (Frobenius & Haberland, 2007).  There are various forms of arts that contribute in a large way to the development of the African art. They include the sub-Saharan Africa art, ancient Egyptian artifacts and paintings, western cultural arts as well as the traditional southern crafts.

Archeologically, the African art was based mainly on the surrounding nature, whereby, the art used to be an interpretation of things, such as plant life, animals, natural shapes and designs (Frobenius & Haberland, 2007). For instance, the Nubian Kingdom of the Kush found in the modern day Sudan was always in hostility with the Egyptians and this lead to the production of sculpture mainly derivative of approaches that did get transferred to the north. The Nok  culture are the oldest known sculptures within the West Africa region, which were popular between 500 BC- 500 AD within the region of the modern day Nigeria, and used to be made up of clay figures, fundamentally made up of angular shapes and elongated bodies.

In the 10th century, more complex techniques of producing various pieces of art were created in the sub-Saharan Africa. A number of notable developments included the Igbo Ukwu bronze work, Ile Ife Bronze metal work and terracottas  (Delafosse, 2012). Therefore, generally, the African art developed throughout the history due to largely cultural and environmental factors, whereby, different regions contributed their unique arts technique to the general development of African art around the globe.


Delafosse, M. (2012). African Art. New York: Parkstone International.

Frobenius, L. & Haberland, E. (2007). Leo Frobenius on African history, art and culture. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener Pubishers.

Category African_Art_History

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