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Art of Benin - Essay Example

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One such encounter is between the people of Benin and the British who have presented the former’s forms of art in museums since the year 1897 to date. And…
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Download file to see previous pages This was also accompanied by increased interest in African people and their cultures.
Africans were therefore described as savages and as people who openly practiced witchcraft. For instance, ‘The Golgotha, Benin’ is a portrait produce in the London News paper that describe Benin as a cannibalistic place with brutal practices. Prior to the emergence of the British, they were backward and less civilized. However, things changed once the British brought sanity to the place. The Benin great arts like the bronze sculptures brought forth a debate on the notion of inferiority of the African race. Experts formulated theories and explanations to downplay their doubters. For instance, Justus Brinekmann argued that the beautiful sculptures were as a result of interaction between Benin and ancient civilizations like the Egyptians or the Portuguese (pg.52). Henry Ling Roth who once insinuated that the bronze artifacts had European influence retracted his statements and conceded that the artifacts predated back before the Portuguese arrival.
Failure to prove African inferiority, experts in British museums had to come up with reasonable explanations in order to maintain scientific superiority over other Europeans nations especially Germany. Ethnographic experts argued that indeed the artifacts were African; however, they dated them to coincide with the arrival of the Portuguese into their land. The evidence they brought forth was the absence of skilled artisans at the time. Therefore, after the Portuguese had gone, Africans re-evolved back to savages and degenerates. The concept of African inferiority art was further instilled into the global art form by the avant-garde artisans who were very popular in the early 1900s. They affirmed what the Europeans believed/or thought to be true of a simple and timeless art, that was free from ‘civilizing decorum’ (pg. 63). Ironically, these avant-garde artisans derived their inspirations from the same art ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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