Looking at and Seeing African Art

Purposes: Major Characteristics of Style:


Identify the material used in the creation of this sculpture.

Do the materials evoke a feeling of lightness or heaviness?

Nkisi figure
Kongo culture.


Describe the colors used in the creation of this object.

How would you categorize the colors used on this object?

What kind of response does the viewer have to these colors?

Shango figure
Yoruba culture


How would you describe the texture of these objects: smooth, rough, reflective, or matte? 

How does the texture of these objects convey a sense of luminosity?

How do the textures, colors, and shapes work together to suggest a quality of weightiness?

Sowei Headress
Mende culture.


Can you identify the properties of design the artists were concerned with in the creation of these masks?

Can you identify the basic shapes used by the artists?  Would you categorize these as cubic, angular or organic?

How are colors used to complement the design of the masks?

Fang culture.
Fang culture.


Visually describe how horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines are used in the creation of these art forms.

Discuss how line creates a sense of movement, especially in the composition on your right. 

Chiwara mask
Bamana culture.
 Masking ceremony
Dogon culture.


How would you describe these compositions?  Consider whether they can be described as compact or loose compositions. 

Why are some figures smaller or larger than others?

Consider the term social proportion and whether it can be applied to these objects. 

Bronze plaque
Benin culture.
Shrine sculpture
Yoruba culture.


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This website was last modified September 5th, 2009. It was created and modified by Cynthia Becker, Bolaji Campbell and Janine Sytsma with Professor Henry Drewal.
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