African art narrates the historical and modern sculptures, installations, paintings and any other visual culture from native Africans and African Continent. Despite this diversity, there are unifying artistic themes present, when considering the totality of the visual culture from the continent of Africa. The study of African art also includes metalwork, masquerade, architecture, fibre art and various dance forms of the African Continent. African Art has had a huge influence on the European Modernist Art because the Modernist Art lacks the concern for naturalistic depiction. Southern Africa’s oldest known clay figures date from 400 to 600 AD and have cylindrical heads with a mixture of human and animal features. It was only at the start of twentieth century, art historians like Michal Sobeski, Leo Frobenius and Carl Einstein published important work about African Art thereby giving this form of art an aesthetic object.
African art takes many forms and is made from many different materials. Most African artworks are wood sculptures, probably because wood is a very widespread material. Early African sculptures can be identified as being made of terracotta and bronze. Still other forms of African art include personal adornment (made from silver, gold, copper, brass, ivory, wood, clay, animal skin, textiles and beads), as well as intricately carved and woven objects of a practical nature, with some made for everyday personal use and others for only on special occasions.
There are five elements of the African Aesthetic which are as follows: 1. Resemblance to a human being 2. Youthfulness 3. Luminosity 4. Self-composure 5. Clarity of form and detail, balance and symmetry and smoothness of finish. The above 5 elements are essential in order to master an African painting. These paintings are very colourful and are usually drawn on a canvas and are a visual treat to the eyes of the seer.