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The History and Influence of African Culture on Global Art, Music and Fashion

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The History and Influence of African Culture on Global Art, Music and Fashion


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It has always been said that Africa is the cradle of man, and it is apparently true just considering the great influence that the African culture has had on the global art, fashion, music and other literary, artistic forms. The African culture is very apparent in most artistic forms around the world with even most popular music industries and genres adopting the culture. The global 2010 World Cup hit song ‘Waka Waka’ by Shakira and Freshlyground group has its inspiration from Cameron and South Africa ("African culture has influence in the industry of art", 2016).

Most recently, Beyonce also embraced and adopted a dance culture from South Africa by appreciating the fascination in the dancing styles. In her music video ”Run the World”, Beyonce and the Tofo Tofo boys from Mozambique make a collaboration to entertain the world. Africa has a lot to offer and should always be perceived with more optimism so that the rest of the world can be able to see what is hidden. African culture has had a great impact and influence in today art all over the world. African art was found by the West at the beginning of the nineteenth century at a time when artists from other parts of the world had started imitating the simplified and inspiring forms of African art.

Foreign artist were influenced and overwhelmed by the abstract forms and geometric features of sculptures from Africa. The African culture started being appreciated and regarded as symbolic in the creation of modern art. The foreign artist got an impression from the art in Africa and it became a source of motivation for their work making African art to have some degree and influence on the modern art ("African culture has influence in the industry of art", 2016).  

In the mention of the African culture, one cannot leave out the masks that are created on the continent. There are a lot of background stories about the African masks and what they show that most global arts have embraced the concepts behind the mask and adopted the artistic forms. At the same time, there are inherent symbols of nature which are shown in the African decors which have become a source of inspiration and motivation to artists. The reflection is quite evident with an ever growing demand for the African furniture and decors.

The African art and culture are shown in the fine craftsmanship with most traditional and hands-on techniques applied to the creation of the artistic forms and decors and still continue to produce quality pieces of arts and home decors which are in high demand in the global arena. The African culture has been and is continuously being embraced by people from different parts of the world including the African themselves who décor their homes with African embellishments. Currently, the African fashion is gaining global recognition with traditional fabrics like Kanga and Kikoi being found fascinating and attractive. The traditional African fabrics are also adding a certain kind of touch to designs with the stories behind the fabrics also intriguing to most people. The African culture is simply becoming hard to resist.

Although most African art schools study the Western art and make the glory of the famous American and European artists, they fail to realize that the Western artistic works have roots in African aesthetics coupled with the renderings of style. The African culture has quite a prominent impact on the modern art with modern artist such as Brancusi, Rodin, and Braque among others drawing their inspiration from the African sculpture due to its sophistication as well as its ability to abstract the human figure. The African culture is unique and gives the art work a lot of originality, authenticity, and splendor.

Inspirations of famous artist like Picasso and Matisse mostly emanate from African art as much as they never realized the fact that African art was due to its conformity to aesthetic statements. African art and culture has been the motivation and driving force behind which artists create their work. It is possible to argue that the western art has evolved in a similar process as the African art but not vice versa.

It is important to take into consideration how the foreign world came into contact with the African culture and art. There are several theories on the same but it is highly likely that African art was first collected by Maurice Vlaminck at the end of the 18th century with his friend Andre Derain following in his footsteps with other artist like Picasso and Matisse witnessing the arts in Derain’s studio. It is also possible that Matisse saw some African art in Picasso’s studio or the vice versa (Bassani et al.2000).

Artist from the West in the 19th century adopted African culture and art due to specific reasons. First, African art has the ability to initiate and convey feelings and messages to the viewer. For the Western artist to incorporate African art in their work, they had to clearly understand the African culture and environment which had an impact on the specific art they were imitating. Additionally, African art was very easy to understand and they therefore could easily adopt it rather than making an analysis by applying western methodologies.

African art and culture is purely random and has no sequential record of transformations in comparison to the western art. As a result, the foreign artist have been able to quickly adapt and embrace the African style of art and automatically found themselves getting inspired by the qualities and feeling conveyance capability of the art therefore adopting various styles of African art (Kangas, 2016). There have also been generalizations of the African culture and art by the foreign artists mostly due to the lack of understanding of the culture and native languages. These generalizations of the art led to lack of information and data which could be gathered by the western artist at that time.

It can be sensible to say that modern art of the famous artist like Pablo Picasso would have not been present today if they would have not been inspired and influenced by the African art. The effect of African culture and art work had been felt in other parts of the world outside the continent for a long period before the artists who was influenced by the art and culture. . Picasso, for instance believed that the culture and art had an impact which had a disrupting effect in the lives of humanity as well as have an impact on their behavior. According to him, African art had powers which were missing in the European and American art as well as sorcery powers. African arts were being exported to Europe which subsequently led to the interactions of the sculptures and the outside world.



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