Wood – Ghana
Size 3′ L Approx
It is obvious that cylindrical pole sculpture can develop from any long-shaped material, not necessarily from wood. An excellent variant is the ivory elephant-tusk. It is clear, too, that if an artist wants to retain the unity of a slender unbroken line in his sculpture, working from a single block without the addition of any other piece, he will not be able to portray any detail exceeding the limits of the original cylinder. From this arises a further characteristic of African sculpture – its lack of proportion. There is a wooden African sculpture currently on display (2011) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, for instance, comprising a horse and a rider. But in comparison with the rider, the horse is so small that some people might think it was meant as a caricature, except the artist had no such intention. It was simply that within the limits of his tusk he had no means of making the horse large enough to be in proportion to the rider, and since he was principally concerned with the rider, the size of the horse did not trouble him.
Not all African wood sculpture is based on this principle. The round block can be more extensively elaborated into a progressively more realistic form which has no resemblance to the original shape of the material. Sculpture of this kind is found in the parklands of the Cameroons, through the whole of the Congo region, and in the east among the Makonde tribe.
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