Africa has produced a very diverse body of sculptural work over the last millennia. From African history, finely crafted portraits of kings and rulers, animal motifs as well as masks are well known. Contemporary African sculptures are also full of life and innovation.



Art from Africa: Millennia-Old Tradition and Contemporary Works

Africa has a long tradition of fine arts and crafts. As a continent with countless different languages and cultures, Africa has developed a very diverse array of art forms over the millennia, encompassing painting, printmaking, sculpture, object and installation art, film, photography, and performance. Sculpture in Africa can be traced back to around the 6th century BC. The oldest known African figures are terracotta sculptures of the Nok culture.

At the beginning of the 20th century, African art had a great influence on European art. Many modern artists, such as Pablo Picasso, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Amedeo Modigliani, drew inspiration from the aesthetics of African figures, decorations, and masks. Even today, African art is very popular in Europe. For example, African decorative figures, African statues, or African wooden figures. Here, at ars mundi, you can buy African figures.

Materials and Motifs of Traditional African Sculpture

In terms of fundamental artistic themes, traditional African sculptures are not vastly different from those of European sculpture. Just as the visual arts in Europe were strongly influenced by religion and mythology for centuries, the art of Africa often found its motifs in gods and spirits. In addition, the sculptors depicted numerous real people in their works, including kings and rulers, as well as simple farmers. In addition, the continent's wildlife was also often showcased in sculptures, depicting animals such as elephants, birds, or lions. Many African figures were created for festive occasions and ceremonies such as initiation or funeral rituals, often expressing reverence for ancestors. The materials used for African figures were initially of purely natural origin, for example, ivory, raffia, stone, or wood. Later, clay for pottery and various metal alloys such as bronze, brass or copper were added. Sculptors often employed mixed media techniques, adorning metal sculptures, for example, with ivory or precious stones.

Buying African Art is Becoming More Popular Among Collectors

For some time now, the interest in African art has been growing noticeably both in the art market and in research and science. Many renowned auction houses regularly offer African sculptures and other works of art. Sotheby's, Christie's, Arthouse, and other auction houses routinely see high bids in the millions for African figures and paintings. Moreover, the importance of African art is also increasing in the field of research. Besides, museums worldwide are either fully dedicated to African art or have substantial departments showcasing figures, paintings, installations, and other works. These art houses include, among many others, the National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C., the Museum Fünf Kontinente, Munich, the Ethnological Museum, Berlin, the Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal/Netherlands, the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervueren/Belgium and the Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt am Main.