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African & Oceanic Drawings

A time-honored tradition rooted in indigenous creative legacies, African and Oceanic drawings have significant artistic influence and are celebrated for their interest and value worldwide. The aesthetic sensibility and iconography of African and Oceanic drawings have had an enduring influence on the trajectory of fine art from French Salon paintings to modernism.

Pablo Picasso was one of the first Western artists to incorporate elements of African art into his works. These elements included fantastical proportions to represent the human body, as evidenced in Oceanic masks and intricate patterning common to the region. Later in the 20th century, the works of Jean-Michelle Basquiat and Keith Haring drew heavily on African and Oceanic traditions of drawing.

The practice of drawing continues to thrive in these regions, with scores of artists producing works that reflect regional artistic histories as well as influence from Western art and the realities of the modern, globalized world.

Quick Facts

  • William Kentridge, a South African artist, is one of the most revered and well-known contemporary artists in the world. His drawings, often rendered in charcoal, offer incisive commentary about the complex history of his country of origin
  • The hieroglyphic-like marks that populate the drawings of Keith Haring offer a patent testimony to the influence of African and Oceanic art on his practice
  • The concept of affixing pigment to the human body to create art that is indigenous to these regions found corollaries in the artistic strategies of such modern artists as Yves Klein and Kazuo Shiraga

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