African American Art

The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word art as “the conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty. . . “  Perhaps no other genre captures those sounds, colors, forms, and movements with more vivid clarity than African American art.

African American art comes alive with sounds and sights influenced by ties to Africa, Europe, and the North and South American continents.  Contemporary African American art is constantly evolving and finding new means of expression while borrowing from its deep, rich traditional roots.

Slaves arriving in this country from Africa put their skills, talents, and craftsmanship to work from the very beginning and cultural influences from that period are evident in much of the African American art produced by today’s artisans.

The works produced by these early African Americans is considered primitive because there was little, usually no, formal art training available to the gifted artists and craftsmen of the day.  Many critics and admirers feel formal training would have diluted the vibrant energies and heartfelt creativity found in these soul-filled works of art.

Because of the meager existence afforded the slaves, the early African American artisans fashioned their wares into pieces that served a functional role while being elaborately and boldly decorated, often with symbols that represented the artist’s heritage.  This same cultural lineage is abundant in the song and dance of the era as well.

Fortunately, the primitive nature of so much of the African American art produced during this era is exactly what makes it so sought after today.  The cultural and historical aspects of these art pieces makes the earliest African American artforms some of the most highly valued in art houses and at auctions around the world.

Collectors looking for African American art often purchase the style and medium that appeals to them on a personal level.  Investors of African American art, however, confidently collect these works, knowing they will gain in value as time passes and their popularity spills over into collectors of all races.

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