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The Tribal Arts of Africa: Surveying Africa's Artistic Geography [Paperback]

Jean-Baptiste Bacquart
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
RRP: 19.95
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Book Description

19 Aug 2002
This work displays and defines the fruits of thousands of years of black African creative endeavour. All the objects included were made by Africans for their own use, spanning a period from the beginning of the first millennium to the early 20th century, before the commercial production of art aimed at the tourist trade. Jean-Baptiste Bacquart, has divided Africa south of the Sahara into 49 cultural areas. Each section studies the most important tribe within the area, surveying its social and political structures as well as its artistic production. The art is analyzed according to type - in most instances masks, statues, and everyday objects, such as utensils, furniture and jewelry. Where appropriate, further information on artistically related tribes is then provided. Each section contains its own bibliography. A detailed reference section with information on key collectors, collections open to the public and a glossary completes this publication.

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Frequently Bought Together

The Tribal Arts of Africa: Surveying Africa's Artistic Geography + African Masks: From the Barbier-Mueller Collection (Art Flexi Series) + African Art (World of Art)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Thames and Hudson Ltd; New edition edition (19 Aug 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500282315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500282311
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 23.1 x 30.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 435,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

In the light of recent debates about the status of the term "Tribal Art" in relation to the cultures of sub-Saharan Africa, Jean-Baptiste Bacquart's The Tribal Arts of Africa is a remarkably bold and ambitious book, which sets out to offer a geographical and artistic synthesis of more than a hundred years of Western studies of the art of Africa.

According to Bacquart, "tribes, not countries, shape the artistic geography of Africa". As a result, the book is broken down into 49 sections, each dealing with a particular region and its tribal art, beginning with the west coast of Africa and ending with east and South Africa. A particular tribe's masks, statues, utensils, furniture and jewellery are then surveyed for their ritual and aesthetic significance. The results are striking and varied, from the remarkable Sapi and Benin sculptures which emerged from Portuguese contact with west Africa in the 15th century, to the mysterious and forbidding figures of the Nyamezi of Tanzania, all of which are beautifully reproduced in full colour.

While the book is a fascinating testimony to the variety and difference of African Tribal Art, its ambitious scope begs more questions than the book can answer. The brief descriptions of the ritual use of these objects requires more explanation. It would also be fascinating to explain the similarities and cross-fertilisations between different tribes which often seem to have occurred. Perhaps the strength of The Tribal Arts of Africa is the extent to which it unwittingly begins to unravel the usefulness of a term like "African Tribal Art" itself; but for those intrigued by these objects, this is undoubtedly the book to explore an art about which we still know very little. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'An extremely detailed yet accessible look at the fantastic diversity and beauty of African work... a glimpse of Africa's creative soul' - The Sunday Times 'A very valuable research tool for those interested in looking beyond the aesthetic face of African art' - Black Arts Alliance Newsletter 'An admirable introduction which is beautifully designed and printed' - The Times Higher Education Supplement

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive guide and catalogue 15 May 2004
By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This beautiful book on the art of Africa south of the Sahara explores 49 cultural areas as regards their artistic production and their political and social structures. The 49 areas are broadly divided under sections for the coast of West Africa; inland West Africa; Nigeria and Cameroon; Gabon and Zaire; and Eastern and Southern Africa.
Each section has its own bibliography. The book includes 865 illustrations of which a least 195 are full color photographs. There are also many maps of the areas under study. The reference section at the end encompasses a further bibliography, lists of major museums and major dealers in African art, a glossary and an index.
The book is a masterpiece that makes accessible the entire panoply of black African tribal arts from the first millennium to the end of the nineteenth century. It is an indispensable reference source for the serious collector and a beautiful encyclopaedia for any art lover.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent just what I was looking for. 2 April 2014
By Mike D
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lots of pictures of masks & what Tribe made them, it including the occasions they were used for. Anybody interested in African tribal Art then this is the Book for them as it goes beyond the aesthetic face of African Art as it displays & defines the remarkable fruits of thousands of years of black African creative endeavour. A really interesting read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb book on African art 6 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am interested in modern art and especially its influence by African art.This book gives a perfect picture covering the whole range of African art referring to its origin, purpose, function,size and location.Each section is thoroughly documented and accompanied by superb colour and black and white photographs.This book is a priceless guide and information source for African art admirers.
It also gives you insight how closely linked are modern art with African art.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sumptuous 31 Oct 2013
By Julie D
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This Thames & Hudson book is a sumptuously illustrated survey of African tribal art. The author, Jean-Baptiste Bacquart, is a former head of Tribal Art at Sotheby's. I'd wanted a book on this subject for a very long time when I came across this on Amazon; it is far better than I even imagined it would be. Five sections cover different regions within Africa and detail the characteristics of that region's artefacts. As the author stresses, the items covered in the book are all objects that would have been used within the various communities - not objects aimed at the tourist trade. It is extremely difficult for the amateur enthusiast to correctly identify age and origin of this type of art; this book is very useful for that and the illustrations reveal how great the debt of certain prominent twentieth century artists should be towards the unknown producers of these beautiful things who innately appear to have understood what to leave out. Brief details are given too of the individual tribes. A comprehensive guide and a most wonderful book!
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