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Posted by / 20-Jun-2017 21:50

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The Western separation of fine art from the lowlier craft (i.e., useful skill) came out of a sequence of social, economic, and intellectual changes in Europe that did not occur in Africa before the colonial period at the very earliest.This separation, therefore, cannot be applied without qualification to African traditions of precolonial origin.A commonplace of African art criticism has been to identify particular styles according to supposedly tribal names—for example, Asante, Kuba, or Nuba.

Moreover, the very idea of tribe is an attempt to impose identity from the outside.

There are other traditions in which a standard form can be embellished as elaborately as the artist or patron wishes.

The important point is that particular traditions encourage creativity.

Philosophers of art in the West might agree that works of art are simply artifacts made with the intention of possessing aesthetic value, and in that sense art, which would include craftwork as well as works of fine art, would indeed be found in all parts of Africa (as indeed it is throughout human culture).

But even in this case, African art must be understood through the investigation and understanding of local aesthetic values rather than through the imposition of categories of external origin.

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