There’s this tiny space inside me. It has a tiny door with a button handle. A button you’d sew on a shirt. It was a fancy gold one. Round and shiny. I could hear music playing from the other side so I got on all fours and placed my ear right up against it. The music didn’t grow louder it stayed as distant but I could see flickers of light dancing just below the door. Then the smell of cookies and gasoline and cupcakes and charcoal intertwined in my nostrils. It was conflicting but curious. There was only one way to solve this. I had to turn the gold button knob and open the door to that tiny place inside me.
For today’s post I wanted to talk about African influence on modern art. I was wondering at first why there isn’t more diversity in Symbolic art. I found that there is diversity and I wanted to make sure to share it. I planned this post last week and I’ve been eager to share it all week. According to The Met, “During the early 1900s, the aesthetics of traditional African sculpture became a powerful influence among European artists who formed an avant-garde in the development of modern art.” Painters including Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, blended the post-impressionist works of Cezanne and Ganguin with the “highly stylized treatment of the human figure in African sculptures.” The combination of the two resulted in pictorial flatness, vivid color palette, and fragmented Cubist shapes which helped define early modernism. What I find most fascinating is that “the artists knew nothing of the original meaning and function of the West and Central African sculptures they encountered, [but] they instantly recognized the spiritual aspect of the composition and adapted these qualities to their own efforts to move beyond the naturalism that had defined Western art since the Renaissance.”
There may be some out there that say these artists stole ideas from African sculptures. I think it’s important to keep in mind that in the art world it’s a complement to influence other artists. I borrow many things from other writers when creating new stories and poems, but most of my work is influenced by creators that have the biggest impact on me. When you are an innovator or creator that is what moves things forward in ways that are needed in order for an artist or even a society to grow. Henry James says ” Art lives in curiosity, exchange of views, variety of attempt, experiment, and comparison of standpoints.” Without the strong influence of these African sculptures, early modern art would not be the same or could not have happened at all.