The influence of African sculpture on British art 1910 to 1930.
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'.