The influence of African sculpture on British art, 1910-1930
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This thesis aims to discuss the influence of African wood sculpture on British art from 1910 to 1930. It proposes that the works, tastes and pronouncements of various 20th century British artists betray this influence and that although the British artists did not initially understand the conceptual foundations of African sculpture their limited knowledge was just sufficient for the modernization of British art through the adaptation of the formal qualities of African art. In assessing the validity of these propositions the thesis examines the factors and issues that facilitated the influence. Chapter 1 discusses the formal qualities of African wood sculpture that attracted the British artists. It outlines the unusual figural proportions, the free and direct use of planar, linear and solid geometry, the treatment of material and its surfaces. The conceptual foundations of African sculpture are generally outlined in Chapter 2. The extent to which the British artists understood these foundations is also discussed. Chapter 3 concerns the introduction of African sculpture to Britain and discusses the development of the anthropological and subsequent aesthetic interest that it aroused. Both the Post-Impressionist Exhibitions and the Omega Workshops which facilitated its influence are examined. Chapter 4 examines the concept and attempts to categorize the nature of this influence. The last three chapters act as case studies in which the impact of African sculpture on Epstein, Gaudier-Brzeska and Henry Moore is examined. The conclusion discusses the term 'Primitive' and the British artists and the 'Primitive'
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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