The African Collection

Permanent Collection | African Gallery

With a creative diversity spanning over 50 countries and thousands of cultures, the arts of the African continent offer a window into unique local contexts and stylistic conventions. Such works of art promote the identity of the artists and cultures from which they originate, and highlight the visual differences found from one region to the next.

Not only are the arts of Africa visually diverse, but their functions and significance equally vary according to form and media. For example, masked performance arts are used to connect the physical realm with the spiritual, while arts of adornment often utilize formal elements to promote social standing and identity. Even objects used in everyday life reflect unique visual expressions of local conditions. Today, as in the past, artists continue to generate contemporary visual expressions that highlight the rich history of art across the African continent.

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