A concept of Art; African v. European
He told us that the difference between the function of the arts in Europe and their function in Africa laying in the fact that, in Africa, the function of the arts is more present and pervasive, is infinitely less special, “is done by all, for all.” Thus, art for art’s sake is not a concept which makes any sense in Africa.
The division between art and life out of which such a concept comes does not exist there. Art itself is taken to be perishable, to be made again each time it disappears or is destroyed. What is clung to is the spirit which makes art possible. And the African idea of this spirit is very different from the European idea.
European art attempts to imitate nature. African art is concerned with reaching beyond and beneath nature, to contact, and itself become a part of la force vitale.
The artistic image is not intended to represent the thing itself, but rather, the reality of the force the thing contains. Thus, the moon is fecundity, the elephant is force.
-excerpt- James Baldwin, “Nobody Knows My Name” Prince and Powers