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Changes in African Art

Aug 28, 2008
Africa is a truly unique Continent. With over 53 countries, and about a thousand different languages; this is a land where diversity is normal. While in Africa, one finds different unique ethnic groups living within ten miles of each other to be normal.

Even though group loyalties run very deep, people still have longstanding relationships with each other.
One of the most astounding things about Africa is the pace of change. Africa today is changing at a faster rate than has ever been seen before. Changes that took centuries in Western Europe and North America have happened in just a few short decades in Africa.

Where else in all of history have people moved so fast from tribal societies to modern nations? Progress in Africa has been happening in a way that has never been experienced anywhere else on the Globe.

The goals of independence and nationalism among many of Africa's people, has sped up the process of breaking down barriers between tribal groups. This merging of tribal cultures has further weakened the traditions already made weak from contact with Western civilization.

Art is one of the most important parts of any culture. In Africa, traditional art is becoming a thing of the past as quickly as the continent changes. With the disappearance of traditions and other aspects of African culture, works of traditional African art are becoming more and more scarce. The art of previous generations was produced to meet religious and social needs that no longer exist within most groups of Africans today.

Quality works of ancient African art are becoming harder and harder to find. The value of this art has gone up accordingly; and much of the traditional artwork has left the continent for private collections overseas. People living in poverty will often give up family heirlooms; some passed down through generations; in order to survive.

Artisans who create the art are also adopting new world views, This also makes traditional work of modern vintage somewhat less meaningful and true to the original heritage. Just as the culture of Africa is changing fast, in the same way it's art, as a reflection of that culture also changes quickly.
The "new" art most commonly found in Africa today, tends to be much more commercial. Instead of an artisan spending a tremendous amount of time and emotional energy making a work of art, a person today is much more likely to find something that is far less unique. Common and popular art themes today are virtually mass produced for larger audiences.

New African art is not inferior however; just different. Just as modern Western art has taken prominence over older forms, so too, modern African art is replacing the traditional. This brings with it its own new meaning and aesthetic significance. African culture is shown through art in paintings and sculpture, as well as in jewelry and other items of everyday life.
About the Author
Wayne Kiltz is the founder and owner of Africa Imports. You can find over 100 other articles on African art, culture, and fashion, along with African proverbs,
recipes, and African business opportunities at http://www.africaimports.com
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