African sculpture has been a source of influence in the art for the last 100 years. European artists find inspiration from the African art forms and formed their versions of grande art and called them modern. The color palette that artists like Pablo Picasso were able to build from their inspiration from African culture, laid the foundation for early modern art. The vivid colors, the cubic shapes and the flat picturization are main features that modern artists take from African art. The meaning of the art and sculptures were not the qualifying factors for choosing them for inspiration. Instead, the spirituality that resonated from them was beyond anything that early modern artists found anywhere. The motivation has been a source since the renaissance era.
Anxieties in modern life were depicted using African aesthetics by expressionist artists from Germany such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Symbolic imagery by Paul Klee was another aspect taken from African art. Modernist movements were the ones responsible for the African art source in the early days of modern art. However, newer artists learn about African art from art schools in Paris and the United States today. Collecting African cultures as art pieces have been a favorite hobby amongst sculpture collectors in Europe during the late 1800s. Museums in European countries were famous for featuring these art pieces too. America and Oceania were great with their art also. However, the interest that pieces inspired by African art garnered better attention from spectators, making artists look to including them instead.
Artists like Picasso and Matisse have shown profound nuances of inspiration in almost every artwork that they have created. The African aesthetics has played an essential part in influencing the sculptures that Picasso created too. The primary source of African aesthetic inspiration came from the Grebo and Minba masks that hail from African culture. These masks were a prized item in most of the households of famous artists during the early 1900s, and Picasso was a collector. Matisse, on the other hand, came from a family who was heavily involved in weaving clothes. He used the weaves of Kuba cloth that his family created from imports from Central Africa. Other fabrics he used were from North Africa and Europe.
The beauty of using the Kuba cloths is that they were carefully weaved by families using the raffia palm fibers. These clothes were a prized possession of many African families as they were given as dowry when they married off their children. The large pieces of cloth were used in funerals and for festivals. Matisse would hang the large fragments of Kuba cloth in his workshop and wait for inspiration to came from them when he created his works of art. These happenings are described in his historical recounting, and the actual cloth has been in his possession or many years even after his death. In today’s art world, there is much research that has been conducted concerning the African influence in modern art. These research papers usually recount what has already been created in the past and how artists have been able to find inspiration from it.