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Cross cultural encounters between britain and benin

Hire Writer However the statement given by the Benin native is one of barbarism in refusing to listen to the message of the white man and massacring defenceless men.

  1. The influence of African art began to gain speed once the barriers of race and the primitive came down.
  2. Firstly, is important to define that there were two different categories of art pieces produced. Vase with Twelve Sunflowers.
  3. The Royal Art of Benin.
  4. It is seen as a trial to show British fair play and civility, innocent until proven guilty. Their meaning is both historical as evidence of the commercial nature of the cultural encounter between the African and Portuguese and artistic as they display aesthetic ideas and a peculiar degree of craftsmanship.
  5. This consideration is not only relevant to the art of Benin, but pertinent to art in general.

However we must also look at who wrote this text and was it a fair representation of both sides? Clearly it is a statement which shows the cross cultural differences between the British and Benin peoples. What it also shows is a weighted biased towards the British occupancy of Benin. It shows the British as civil, fair and cultured. Whilst the Benin people are seen as savage and primitive.

It is seen as a trial to show British fair play and civility, innocent until proven cross cultural encounters between britain and benin. The trial was conducted by the British and a verdict given within one day and swift punishment taken. Clearly we can see the text and trial as not being representative of both sides and was used to hand down punishment and show to the world British cultural civility against a barbaric force.

How did the idea about race and the primitive influence art from Benin after 1897? Within the following essay I will demonstrate how race and the primitive influenced the way the attitude of the west changed after Benin in 1897. The essay will identify and answer the questions. How was Benin seen prior to 1897?

And how did the primitive nfluence Western European thought after 1897? These artefacts were taken back to Britain and sold to museums, private collectors, art historians and scholars. Since the invasion of 1897 European attitudes have changed significantly towards this Benin art. When Benin art was first brought back to Britain it was a matter of debate.

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The natives were seen as uncivilised and primitive. Indeed art was seen in the nineteenth century as an area reserved for European Christian tradition. The Art of Benin: Arts Past and Present p61. Indeed non western and non Christian cultures were seen as primitive and to some extent savage and beyond artistic thought.

The Benin Bonzes: what do they mean? how should they be exhibited?

However the bronzes and carvings brought back from Benin were of excellent craftsmanship and as such the thinking of the western art world began to change. With the birth of the avant garde movement came more challenges towards the nineteenth century view of race and the primitive in relation to art. Challenges to the pre existent view of the Christian white bourgeois values as the representation of fine art. The avant garde movement took the primitive as their subject of idiom and art became an education through history, geography and cultural awareness.

African art had a huge impact on modern art, with famous avant garde artists such as Matisse and Picasso being influenced by what they encountered. The influence of the primitive is very apparent in some of their works.

  1. The argument for art being impossible to be fully understood outside its original context can be colourfully exemplified by imagining the Sistine Chapel being ripped out of St.
  2. Art of Benin 2.
  3. These objects were originally displayed in the private quarters of affluent households, therefore as symbols of wealth and illustrated cosmopolitism, not, as it is expected of valuable art pieces in present times museums are an 18th century occurrence , to be displayed for the enjoyment and understanding of the wider public or scholars.
  4. Presented with the evidence discussed and collating it with Portuguese written accounts, this plaque suggests that these cross-cultural encounters were beneficial to both parties. From the point of view of the Edo people, whose culture is being exhibited in an anthropology museum, this would be an incomplete and possibly offensive context of display.

There developed a link between bourgeois hypocrisy and those who were seen as primitive and unfortunate in the ndeveloped poor. Art with distortion, as seen in Benin art, through avant garde ideology can be viewed as an extension of non conformist ideas. In that deep truths, feelings and emotions are seen.

When we talk of this subject, we must add that the avant garde movement looked upon African art as a means to extend their own artistic intellect. Art of Benin 2.

Benin art - what can it tell us about cross-cultural encounters?

The educational aspect to the Benin art cannot be underestimated. The art brought different cultures together. Through the artwork Britain was given an insight into the life of a different society. One of culture, artistic temperament and intelligence.

Consequently changing the attitudes of the past from that of savagery and barbarism. In museums Benin and other African artefacts were displayed along side other forms of media all dedicated to explaining the primitive forms of life. However those avant garde artists influenced by African primitive art did not take in the historical aspect of the work they admired and ow this art functioned in the culture of its African society.

For the avant garde movement the Benin art acted as a stimulus for the expression of their own art. What we can say is that the avant garde movement raised the profile of African art after 1897.

Many sophisticated cultures were not seen as properly producing art in the western sense so primitive Africa was not even mentioned.

Cultural Encounters Essay

Nowadays this outlook is completely different, arts are welcome from all cultures. Since 1897 Benin and other African art have played a key role in the history and culture of Europe.

Benin art began influencing artists such as Picasso which began a different movement bringing more interest and attention in African art. European attitudes have drastically changed towards Benin art. To conclude we can say that Benin art extended the thought process of what art should be defined as. The influence of African art began to gain speed once the barriers of race and the primitive came down.

In bringing down these barriers and seeing the collection for what it was — art. We extended our knowledge of world history and culture. How to cite this page Choose cite format: