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Call Number: Films on Demand
Publication Date: 2003
This illuminating program examines the symbolism, aesthetics, and functionality of African art through the vast region’s sculpture, masks, architecture, ornaments, clothing, and utensils.
History of African Art and Architecture
In precolonial Africa, art was not created for its own sake but for social, political, or religious purposes. The human body, utilitarian objects, and architectural structures were adorned not only to enhance their visual appeal, but also to reflect taste and economic status.
Naturalistic rock paintings and engravings from pre-4000 bc are found in the Sahara Desert. They are similar to European Palaeolithic art. Later African tribal art is inseparable from the ritual life of the community. Examples include: body painting and dance; music and musical instruments (especially the drum); ceremonial masks and small sculptures used in ancestor worship; weapons and everyday utensils.
Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
Through its collections research facilities, state-of-the-art conservation lab, groundbreaking exhibitions, educational outreach and public programs, the museum has expanded the parameters of the field of African art history and presented to the public a rich diversity of artistic traditions from throughout continent. The museum’s programs target audiences of all ages and offer a multifaceted view of Africa’s artistic traditions by incorporating cutting edge, contemporary and urban-focused performances and programs.
Cycles: African Life Through Art
This exhibit presents a "view of life through a selection of art and rituals from the vibrant peoples of the birthplace of humanity," Africa.