15 African Art Facts Every Artist Should Know

Posted in Blog on March 24, 2020

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Today, African art facts give us a vision of how our ancestors viewed art.

One of my favorites is the colorful African masks they created.

The artists who designed these masks had a purpose for each piece of art.

Each mask has a unique design with colored shapes and expressions.

As a result, each African mask had a story to tell about their culture.

15 African Art Facts Every Artist Should Know

1. Each country in Africa has its own art.

African art differs from art from other continents. 

This is because it comes in different designs and styles. 

In addition, every country has its own art. 

For instance, North Africa’s art differs from West Africa’s art or East Africa’s art. 

Therefore, when talking about African art facts, you need to understand that we are talking about different arts. 

One of the main reasons African art differs from the rest of the world is because the region has several customs and cultures. 

Also, there are different religions in Africa. This makes art unique and amazing.

2. Wood is the main material used by African artists.

When creating art, you can use several materials. 

You can use paper, metal, wood, or plastic. 

This is because art is an expression in the form of a sculpture or a painting. 

However, the main material used by African artists is wood. 

This is because wood is readily available in almost all African countries. 

In addition, it is easy to use and affordable. 

African artists use wood to make sculptures, masks, and ornaments. 

Also, since they construct most houses in Africa using timber, artists use the leftovers to make art. 

However, most governments in Africa are putting restrictions to ensure that artists do not cut trees for carvings. 

They are encouraging to use other materials such as rocks.

3. Rock carving and painting originated from Africa.

Rock carvings and paintings are very common in Africa and Asia. 

However, it is believed that rock carvings and paintings originated from Africa. 

So, whether you are in North Africa or South Africa, you can expect to find an artist carving a face or a wild animal from a rock. 

Happily, there are different rocks in Africa artists can use for their artwork.

According to various studies, rock carvings and paintings are some of the oldest African arts. 

Even though most people do not know the specific country in Africa that started rock carving and painting, we believe the art originated from Africa. 

Excitingly, most of the countries in Asia have gained art and are making more great art from rocks.

4. The most famous African art is African masks.

Although there are different African arts, the most common ones are the Africa masks. 

Happily, it is possible to identify an African mask even when in America or Europe. 

This is because the masks are unique and express different feelings. 

The expression of the faces is one thing that makes the masks exceptional. 

You will find sad masks, happy masks, crying masks, or depressed masks.

Therefore, whenever you are looking for African art facts, you must be certain there is something about African Masks.

Although making African masks is easy, the masks are always unique, attractive, and made from different materials.

However, common masks are found in almost every African country made of wood. 

The wooden masks are easy to make lovely, and the element is easily available. 

However, these masks do not last long since they are easily destroyed or lost.

5. The art of African human faces has been embraced worldwide.

Though there are different arts in Africa, human face art is the most common. 

You cannot talk about Africa art facts and cannot include human faces or masks.

Although they were originally used to express different occasions and events, they are have embraced worldwide because of their rareness. 

Fortunately, the faces are easily carved and openly explain African art. 

Initially, African artists would use their faces to express their feelings. 

They would use a happy face to express happiness or sad face to express sadness. 

Also, human faces were created for different occasions that include funnels, weddings, war, and other major events. 

They were also used to honor African leaders and heroes.

6. African art is associated with colorful materials.

From African dresses to shirts and paintings, we associate colorful materials with Africans. 

African art facts tells us that there are many colorful materials used. 

Some artists use colorful human faces while others prefer to make colorful ornaments. 

Hence, there is so much color in the art of Africans. 

Also, color is used to express different moods and expressions. 

For instance, the red color is mostly used to express war or funeral while green symbolises the green countries of Africa.

Hence, there are different paintings used for different events.

7. There are different African art materials.

Although wood is the common material used to make African art, there are other materials that are found in various parts of Africa.

Gold, ivory, silver, and copper are other materials used by African artists. 

However, these other materials are mainly used by the famous artist for great people, such as leaders or rich individuals.

Hence, you will find sculptures made of gold, ivory or silver on royal places, museums, and other honored places.

8. The first art originated from Africa.

We believe that every country has its own art.

Therefore, when you visit America or any European country, you will always find some interesting facts about the art of that country.

However, although all continents have their art, we believe it that art originated in Africa.

This is because there are different pieces of art in several African countries that are estimated to be 70,000 years old.

In addition, most of the cultures and traditions that are expressed in African art are ancient.

Besides, African art has remained a lifestyle to many Africans and not a career or job as it is the case with Americans or Europeans.

9. African art has motivated many popular artists all over the world.

Because of its uniqueness, several famous artists from Europe, Asia, and America have been inspired by African art.

This is because of its originality, uniqueness, and great imagination. 

Happily, Africa is a rich continent full of amazing things that include wild animals, wonderful culture and traditions, lovely scenery, and exciting people.

Therefore, there is so much to say, paint, to draw, and show about Africa.

We believe that most of the art about Africa is well expressed by artists from other continents.

10. Most of the African art is made of natural components.

Unlike artists from various parts of the world, African artists use natural elements to make art. 

This is unique in continents such as America, Australia or Asia, where digital art has overpowered traditional art. 

Happily, the natural elements are readily available in Africa, unlike in other continents.

However, since digital art is not part of African art, most of the art in Africa is easily damaged or misplaced.

11. African art mostly describes the native black people.

When talking about African art facts, most people talk about black people’s art.

They do not describe art from North Africa or countries such as Egypt, Morocco or Libya.

They do not include artists from North African countries or the Mediterranean.

Even though all art from Africa is African Art, people only associate African art with black people.

12. Introduction of Christianity and Islam in Africa has changed African Art.

Africa is one of the most diverse continents.

This means they have different styles of art in the continent of Africa.

It is possible to find different styles of art in neighboring countries unlike in Europe, where all art is the same.

However, introducing Islam and Christianity has changed African art.

Most people are doing away with ancient art and embracing modern art.

It is now possible to find Africans using digital art and other modern forms of art.

13. African art is fading away.

Today, African art is fading away; The reason is that many African artists are combining African art with Western art.

Though they have taken part in African art to a different level and brought other communities on board, they see it as a way of reducing the supremacy of African art in the world.

Some artists believe they are creating a new category of African art.

14. Africa art is useful.

African art is used to tell a story, to inform people, to warn people, or it is just art.

Therefore, when you see African art, there is a high possibility that there is a deep meaning behind that art.

This is because most African artists use art to express a deep problem affecting the continent, society, or a particular sex.

15. Performance art is part of African art.

African art is a big body that cannot be fully understood.

From masks to sculptures, there is so much to know about Africa art.

According to Africans, performance art is another part of their culture that cannot go away.

And since they use costumes and masks in ceremonies and events, performance art is always part of African art.


These African art facts are just a few of many other customs and traditions.

Today, I challenge you to study a few African masks and look at their color and designs.

Choose one that you like and practice drawing the shapes and curves of the mask.

I recommend this exercise for beginner artists to learn basic shapes.

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