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Crest mask, Smithsonian Museum of African Art The art of Africa is one of the most ancient of ancient of cultural traditions, dating back some 6,000 years to African rock art.

As mixed and varied a collection which would normally encompass an entire continent, African art is best exemplified by a concentration on ritual masks, three-dimensional sculpture — and the use of abstract forms which notably became a major influence on Picasso and the cubist movement in the 20th century.

Diverging from its classification as art exclusively created in sub-Saharan Africa, the term 'African art' has also been applied to Islamic and Egyptian art as well as the African diaspora around the world in such places as Brazil, the Caribbean, as well as the Southeastern United States.

More modern developments within the African art scene include the continued worldwide craze for Shona art from Zimbabwe, created by some of the best known of Africa's modern sculptors, and collected by such notable personalities as Prince Charles and Michael Jackson.

terracotta Nok sculpture from Nigeria, 6th century
Terracotta Nok sculpture from
Nigeria, 6th century.
Yoruba bronze head sculpture, Ife, Nigeria c. 12th century A.D.
Yoruba bronze head sculpture,
Nigeria, circa 12th century A.D.
Woven raphia fabric from the Bashoda
Woven raphia fabric from the
Bashoda, Central Africa, 1910.
a carving by the Makonde tribe of East Africa, c. 1974
Wood carving by the Makonde
, East Africa, circa 1974.
traditional Tinga Tinga painting
Traditional Tinga Tinga paintings
in a street art stall, Tanzania.
Throne of Weapons
"Throne of Weapons", by
Mozambican artist Cristovao
Canhavato (Kester) 2001.
photo: Mike Peel

Elsewhere around the Web, tour the entire African continent via major holdings and online tours of both the ancient, and the beautifully vivid contemporary art of Africa - including online collections and virtual tours of traditional masks, sculpture, textiles, graphic arts and more...

More about African art around the Web:

National Museum of African Art - Beautifully designed tour of the museum's holdings at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. QuickTime required.

The Africa Center - New York's museum of African art with a virtual tour of their exhibitions.

Art in Africa - The motherlode of Web resources ranging from information on textiles, wood carvings, metal casting, ceremonial art and more categorized by country or region.

Tamarin - Art and Africa Online - Tribal and contemporary art in this handsome, cleanly designed Online tour. News, collectors' exchange, related Web resources and more.

The British Museum: Africa - A world-class collection of textiles, sculpture, graphic arts, coins, and more.

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