Faceless Black Art

It is striking that most art produced by black artists of black adults, except in photography, do not have detailed facial representations. Look around and you will see what I mean.

It is curious that from wood sculptures to paintings the details of the black face is omitted in general. There may be full lips, sometimes a distinctly African nose but the eyes nearly always are left out. It is unusual to find all the facial features displayed all together, unless distorted, exaggerated.

Most often the artist gives splendid representations of the rest the body and to scale too. For male subjects the detail is tremendous, sinewy muscles everywhere, slim waist of smallest measurements and ample ass to boot. Black women are depicted almost amazon-like but defintely curvaceous, breast, hips and ass always prominent .

Why are there so few real faces? Why is so little attention paid to the face? Black kids in art are not treated the same and so it is not about poor black artist and artisans.

Maybe it is as a result of slavery, that issues surrounding the adult black body became so overpowering that the face is forgotten. Maybe the face has never been the emphasis because we subconsciously believe there is little that is redeeming or appealing about it? Or is it that we have learnt not to look into adult eyes, really examine black faces that have experienced some living? Too much blues in those faces to wade through, too much pain to face (no pun intended) ?

Hmmmmn....... I wonder.......


Jdid said…
Some black art is like that and I guess if you're thinking sculptures then yea you are spot on but in terms of paintings I think its about 50-50 the way the faces are dealt with. Good observation though. I wonder what the reason is.
ThandieLand said…
Yah maybe more modern black art has more facial details...but this is something I noticed a long time ago b/c my sibs are above average art collectors.

The improvements may be due to having more black faces on tv and in the media through hip hop etc. Maybe also as time progresses and we move away from the seriously miserable past, black people are actual more happy more content and satisfied with their lives and the whole self.
Burke said…
I went to my first art auction last night, and was interested in bidding on some of the black art. Unfortunately, there were only a few pieces with black figures, and I did notice that many of them were faceless and/or very afrocentric.

We had to sit through the auctioning of 150 pieces, and only 11 were bought. The highest price paid for one of the afrocentric pieces was $1,100. I didn't find anything I felt comfortable bidding on given it was my first auction, but it was fun and I'd definitely do it again and maybe buy something next time around.
ThandieLand said…
Go deh Burke...something I always thought I would pay good money for was the masks used in the stage production of Lion King. Has anybody seen it? I saw some of it on tv and lawd I like the colourful lions masks the best.

Productions like the Lion King and the art shows and stuff are about the only things that have made me wish that I lived in metropolis like New York sometimes. Oh well you can't have every thing can you?
cahapa said…
Is this true? (i.e. emperically valid?)

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