February is African American History Month!
African American art - Painting, sculpture, graphic arts, and crafts developed by people of African descent in the United States and thematically and stylistically informed by African American culture.
This article was excerpted from Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, Second Edition. Edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Kwame Anthony Appiah. Oxford University Press, April 2005.
By Richard J. Powell
The term African American art means different things to different people. For some the term designates a largely racial phenomenon, describing all artistic products -- paintings, sculptures, graphic arts, crafts, architecture, etc. -- created by North Americans of African descent. For others the preceding definition fails to take into account the cultural, in addition to the racial, implications of the term. For this latter group African American art refers to the artistic and visual products not just of North Americans of African descent but of many peoples whose work has been shaped thematically, stylistically, formally, and theoretically by the confluence of black Atlantic cultures -- folkways and traditions formed as a result of the transatlantic slave trade and further developed during alternating periods of colonialism, emancipation, discrimination, and self-assertion. For our purposes the concept of African American art moves freely between these two definitions, providing readers with both the breadth of such an idea and the possibilities for an object-centered and culturally informed definition.
This is part 1, the Introduction to ArtLex on African American art
The other parts are about the periods and styles.
The author of this article, Richard J. Powell PhD, is a professor of art and art history at Duke University who specializes in American, African American and African art. His books include Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson (1991), Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance (1997), and Black Art: A Cultural History (2002).
Copyright © 2005 Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, second edition. Edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Kwame Anthony Appiah. Thanks to Yolanda Carden for permission to post this excerpt in ArtLex.
Oxford University Press; April 2005; 5 Volumes; 4,500 pp.; 0-19-517055-5; Special introductory price until April 30th, 2005 of US $425.00. After April 30th, 2005, the price will be US $500.00. Please visit the Oxford University Press for ordering information.
Ninety years after W.E.B. Du Bois first articulated the need for “the equivalent of a black Encyclopedia Britannica,” Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates Jr., realized his vision by publishing Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience in 1999. This new multi-volume edition of the original work expands on the foundation provided by Africana. More than 4,000 articles cover prominent individuals, events, trends, places, political movements, art forms, business and trade, religion, ethnic groups, organizations and countries on both sides of the Atlantic.
About the Editors:
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of Humanities, Chair of the Department of African and African American Studies, and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University. Professor Gates is well known as an innovator in the field of African American studies and as the author of numerous works.
Kwame Anthony Appiah is the Lawrence S. Rockefeller Professor of Philosophy and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University.
Also see African art, Afrocentrism, bias, discrimination, ethnic, ethnocentrism, multiculturalism, xenophilia, and xenophobia.