This course will introduce you to the art and architecture of the African continent from the prehistoric to the present. The objects, images, and sites featured in this course represent a small cross-section of the diverse ethnic and artistic heritage in Africa. This course emphasizes the role of art as manifested in the lifestyles, spiritualities, and philosophies of particular African societies, while also breaching aesthetic principles and the study and display of African art. Many works produced in Africa are used for spiritual purposes that include ritual and performance. The study of masks and ceremonies will enable you to become more familiar with the significant role art plays in the everyday lives of the citizens of African nations. For example, most traditional African art was not meant to be displayed, but rather viewed in use and in motion, especially in mixed-media masquerades. Body adornment and textiles have long been important forms of visual communication and expression in Africa, whereas painting is not a historically prevalent practice in many African regions. This course will try to recognize and consider the complex nature of African art in all its manifestations in examining and appreciating specific objects.Viewing original works in person is important for any study of art. Public museums throughout the West display examples of historical African art, secured mainly during the time spanning the height of the European slave trade through the end of the colonial era and well into the 20th century. Additionally, contemporary African art has been widely collected and exhibited throughout the world in recent decades. If at all possible, you should do the self-evaluative assignment at the end of Unit 4, in which you will be asked to write about at least one work, and preferably several, of African art that you have viewed in a museum or gallery. While viewing these works in a museum or gallery you should note that the masks were meant to be viewed in movement rather than as a form of display. You will also encounter a number of other “homework” assignments, which should serve as learning tools, helping you absorb the material and get an idea of what specialty studies of African art history entails.Lastly, note that as with most translated material, you will find slight variations in English transcriptions of African names across resources. Click on all images encountered in the websites below, as doing so will usually enlarge the image and reveal more detail in the artwork. Finally, be sure to take note of the data provided with the artwork reproductions, such as the size, medium (material), and place of origin.
Days of the Week:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
- Level of Difficulty: All Levels
- Size: One-on-One
- Cost: Free
- Institution: Saylor
- Topics: Architecture, General Art, Painting, Art History, General History