This is a Humanities class, I did not see the option below.
Book: Boundless Art History by Lumen Corporation
Choose a topic from Module 1, Which covers Non-Western Art that you are really interested in. I will attach the topic. Use at least three sources and write an essay about your chosen subject matter and its culture.
What is it about this particular subject that speaks to you? Have a thesis statement idea about it and support it through your description and your research.
- Essay will be 400- no more than 600 words
- Students must use resources. these are researched essays not simply opinions.
- A works cited page is required
- Students must use a thesis to start their response paper somewhere in the first graph
- The works discussed can be paintings, sculptures, plays, philosophy works, musical compositions, architectural buildings, performance art, films, or happenings or political work from the last century.
- You must submit a minimum of a full and argumentative thesis essay.
- Reliable database sources. no Wikipedia or encyclopedia sources are allowed. must use database college-level sources
- Each essay requires 3 excellent and scholarly sources from either books, journal articles or ebooks in our ebook collection.
- NO AI work and no plagiarism (This will be checked)
Some suggested details about student writing. format: Students may deviate from this format but this at least gives a start.
- To start, students will explain the historical/political/cultural significance of the work in world cultural history
- Then, students will discuss what the work purportedly means to critics and the student will cite examples of two critical articles in which learned critics describe and explain the work. Students should quote from both sources.
- Next, students should dissect the work themselves.
This is a Humanities class, I did not see the option below. Book: Boundless Art History by Lumen Corporation Chapters: 19-20-21 Choose a topic from Module 1, Which covers Non-Western Art that you
Africa in the Modern Period Top of Form Search for: Bottom of Form Religious Art in Africa African Art and the Spirit World Beliefs about the spirit world are deeply embedded in traditional African culture, but were heavily influenced by Christianity and Islam. Learning Objectives Discuss the role of African masks, statues, and sculptures in relation to the spirit world Key Takeaways Key Points Most traditional African cultures include beliefs about the spirit world, which is widely represented through both traditional and modern art such as masks, statues, and sculptures. Wooden masks are often used to depict deities or ancestors; in many traditions, they are believed to channel spirits when worn by ceremonial dancers. Statues and sculptures are also used to represent, connect to, or communicate with spiritual forces. Today, Africans profess a wide variety of religious beliefs, the most common of which are Christianity and Islam; perhaps less than 15% still follow traditional African religions. Despite the drastic decrease in native African religions, some modern art in Africa has worked to reincorporate traditional spiritual beliefs, such as in modern Makonde Art depicting spirits. Key Terms receptacle: A container. sanctuaries: Consecrated (or sacred) areas of a church or temple. Background Like all human cultures, African folklore and religion is diverse and varied. Culture and spirituality share space and are deeply intertwined in most African cultures, which have been heavily influenced by the introduction of Christianity and Islam during the era of European colonization. Most traditional African cultures include beliefs about the spirit world, which is widely represented through both traditional and modern art such as masks, statues, and sculptures. In some societies, artistic talents were themselves seen as ways to please higher spirits. Traditional Influences on Contemporary Religious Art Masks and Rituals Wooden masks, which often take the form of animals, humans, or mythical creatures, are one of the most commonly found forms of traditional art in western Africa. These masks are often used to depict deities or represent the souls of the departed. They may be worn by a dancer in ceremonies for celebrations, deaths, initiations, or crop harvesting. In many traditional mask ceremonies, the dancer goes into deep trance, and during this state of mind he or she is believed to communicate with ancestors in the spirit world. The masks themselves often represent an ancestral spirit, which is believed to possess the wearer of the mask. Most African masks are made with wood and can also be decorated with ivory, animal hair, plant fibers, pigments, stones, and semi-precious gems. Mask from Gabon: A traditional mask from Gabon. Statues and sculptures are also used to represent or connect to spiritual forces. For example, Bambara statuettes, such as the Chiwara, are used as spiritually charged objects during ritual. During the annual ceremonies of the Guan society, a group of up to seven figures, some dating back to the 14th century, are removed from their sanctuaries by the elder members of the society. The wooden sculptures, which represent a highly stylized animal or human figure, are washed, re-oiled and offered sacrifices. The Kono and Komo societies use similar statues to serve as receptacles for spiritual forces. The Igbo would traditionally make clay altars and shrines of their deities, usually featuring various figures. In the Kingdom of Kongo, nkisi were objects believed to be inhabited by spirits. Often carved in the shape of animals or humans, these “power objects” were believed to help aid in the communication with the spirit world. Modern Religion Today, the countries of Africa contain a wide variety of religious beliefs, and statistics on religious affiliation are difficult to come by. Christianity and Islam make up the largest religions in contemporary Africa, and some sources say that less than 15% still follow traditional African religions. Despite the drastic decrease in native African religions, some modern art in Africa has worked to reincorporate traditional spiritual beliefs. For example, modern Makonde Art has turned to abstract figures in which spirits, or Shetani, play an important role. Modern Makonde carving in ebony: Modern Makonde sculptures often depict spirits, or Shetani. Masks in the Kalabari Kingdom Culture and artistic festivities of the Kalabari Kingdom involve the wearing of elaborate outfits and carved masks to celebrate the spirits. Learning Objectives Discuss the role of the spiritual in the masks of the Kalabari Kingdom Key Takeaways Key Points The Kalabari Kingdom was an independent trading state of the Kalabari people, an Ijaw ethnic group, in the Niger River Delta. Today it is recognized as a traditional state in what is now Rivers State, Nigeria. Although the Ijaw are now primarily Christians, they also maintain elaborate traditional religious practices. Veneration of ancestors plays a central role in Ijaw traditional religion, while water spirits figure prominently in the Ijaw pantheon. In addition, the Ijaw practice a form of divination in which recently deceased individuals are interrogated on the causes of their death. The role of prayer in the traditional Ijaw system of belief is to maintain the living in the good graces of the water spirits among whom they dwelt before being born into this world. Each year, the Ijaw hold celebrations involving masquerades that last for several days in honor of the spirits. Ijaw men wearing elaborate outfits and carved masks dance to the beat of drums and manifest the influence of the water spirits through the quality and intensity of their dancing. Key Terms enculturation: The process by which an individual adopts the behavior patterns of the culture in which he or she is immersed. kin: Race; family; breed; kind. Introduction: The Kalabari The Kalabari Kingdom, also called Elem Kalabari (New Shipping Port), or New Calabar by the Europeans, was an independent trading state of the Kalabari people, an Ijaw ethnic group, in the Niger River Delta. Today it is recognized as a traditional state in what is now Rivers State, Nigeria. As well as participating in trade, the Ijaw have traditionally been a fishing and farming culture. Culture and Art Although the Ijaw are now primarily Christians (95% profess to be), with Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism being the varieties of Christianity most prevalent among them, they also maintain elaborate traditional religious practices. Veneration of ancestors plays a central role in Ijaw traditional religion, while water spirits, known as Owuamapu, figure prominently in the Ijaw pantheon. In addition, the Ijaw practice a form of divination called Igbadai, in which recently deceased individuals are interrogated on the causes of their death. The Ijaw are also known to practice ritual acculturation, whereby an individual from a different and unrelated group undergoes rites to become Ijaw. The Role of Ijaw Masks Ijaw religious beliefs hold that water spirits are like humans, having personal strengths and shortcomings, and that humans dwell among the water spirits before being born. Each year, the Ijaw hold celebrations lasting for several days in honor of the spirits. Central to the festivities is the role of masquerades, in which men wearing elaborate outfits and carved masks dance to the beat of drums and manifest the influence of the water spirits through the quality and intensity of their dancing. Particularly spectacular masqueraders are believed to be possessed by the particular spirits on whose behalf they are dancing. ljaw mask: Mask, Kalabari Ijo peoples, Nigeria, early 20th century, wood, pigment (National Museum of African Art). Dogon Sculpture Dogon sculpture primarily revolves around the themes of religious values, ideals, and freedoms. Learning Objectives Describe the characteristics of Dogon art, sculpture, and rituals, as well as the background and location of the Dogon culture Key Takeaways Key Points The Dogon are an ethnic group living in the central plateau region of the country of Mali, in the West of the African continent, and are well known for their unique sculptures. Dogon sculptures are not made to be seen publicly and are commonly hidden from the public eye within the houses of families, sanctuaries, or the hogon (spiritual leader). Dogon sculptures are typically characterized by an elongation of form and a mix of geometric and figurative images. The Dogon style has evolved into a kind of cubism: ovoid head, squared shoulders, tapered extremities, pointed breasts, forearms and thighs on a parallel plane, and hair stylized by three or four incised lines. Key Terms vessel: A general term for all kinds of craft designed for transportation on water, such as ships or boats. Tellem: The people who inhabited the Bandiagara Escarpment in Mali from the 11th through 16th centuries CE. Introduction: The Dogon People The Dogon are an ethnic group living in the central plateau region of the country of Mali, in the West of the African continent. They migrated to the region around the 14th century CE. They are best known for their religious traditions, wooden sculpture, architecture, and funeral masquerades. The past century has seen significant changes in the social organization, material culture, and beliefs of the Dogon, partly because Dogon country is one of Mali’s major tourist attractions. Dogon Sculpture Dogon art is primarily sculptural and revolves around religious values, ideals, and freedoms. Dogon sculptures are not made to be seen publicly and are commonly hidden from the public eye within the houses of families, sanctuaries, or the hogon (a spiritual leader of the Dogon people). The importance of secrecy is due to the symbolic meaning behind the pieces and the process by which they are made. Dogon sculptures are typically characterized by an elongation of form and a mix of geometric and figurative images. Dogon Sculpture: Dogon sculptures are typically characterized by an elongation of form and a combination of geometric and figurative images. Themes Themes found throughout Dogon sculpture consist of figures with raised arms, superimposed bearded figures, horsemen, stools with caryatids, women with children, figures covering their faces, women grinding pearl millet, women bearing vessels on their heads, donkeys bearing cups, musicians, dogs, quadruped-shaped troughs or benches, figures bending from the waist, mirror-images, apron-wearing figures, and standing figures. Signs of other contacts and origins are evident in Dogon art; the Dogon people were not the first inhabitants of the area, and influence from the Tellem, or the people who inhabited the region in Mali between the 11th and 16th centuries CE, is evident in the use of rectilinear designs. Dogon art is extremely versatile, although common stylistic characteristics—such as a tendency towards stylization—are apparent on the statues. Their art deals with Dogon myths, whose complex ensembles regulate the life of the individual. The sculptures are preserved in innumerable sites of worship and personal or family altars, and often render the human body in a simplified way, reducing it to its essentials. Many sculptures recreate the silhouettes of the Tellem culture, featuring raised arms and a thick patina, or surface layer, made of blood and millet beer. The Dogon style has evolved into a kind of cubism: ovoid head, squared shoulders, tapered extremities, pointed breasts, forearms and thighs on a parallel plane, and hair stylized by three or four incised lines. Uses Dogon sculptures serve as a physical medium in initiations and as an explanation of the world. They serve to transmit an understanding to the initiated, who will decipher the statue according to the level of their knowledge. Carved animal figures, such as dogs and ostriches, are placed on village foundation altars to commemorate sacrificed animals, while granary doors, stools, and house posts are also adorned with figures and symbols. Kneeling statues of protective spirits are placed at the head of the dead to absorb their spiritual strength and to be their intermediaries with the world of the dead, into which they accompany the deceased before once again being placed on the shrines of the ancestors. Mendé Masks Mendé masks are commonly used in initiation ceremonies into secret Poro and Sande societies. Learning Objectives Discuss how Mendé masks are created and used by the Mendé people Key Takeaways Key Points The Mendé people are one of the two largest ethnic groups in Sierra Leone; they belong to a larger group of Mandé peoples who live throughout West Africa. The masks associated with the secret societies of the Mendé are probably the best known and most finely crafted in the region. Masks represent the collective mind of Mendé community; viewed as one body, they are seen as the Spirit of the Mendé people. The most important masks personify and embody the powerful spirits belonging to the medicine societies: the goboi and gbini of the Poro society (the secret society for men) and the sowei of the Sande society (the secret society for women).The features of a Sowei mask convey Mendé ideals of female morality and physical beauty; they are somewhat unusual because women wear the masks. Key Terms hale: Secret societies of the Mendé people. Background and Art of the Mendé People The Mendé people are one of the two largest ethnic groups in Sierra Leone, having roughly the same population as their neighbours the Temne people. Together, the Mendé and Temne both account for slightly more than 30% of the country’s total population. The Mendé belong to a larger group of Mande peoples who live throughout West Africa. Mostly farmers and hunters, the Mendé are divided into two groups: the halemo (or members of the hale or secret societies) and the kpowa (people who have never been initiated into the hale). The Mendé believe that all humanistic and scientific power is passed down through the secret societies. Mendé art is primarily found in the form of jewelry and carvings. The masks associated with the secret societies of the Mendé are probably the best known and are finely crafted in the region. The Mendé also produce beautifully woven fabrics, which are popular throughout western Africa, and gold and silver necklaces, bracelets, armlets, and earrings. The bells on the necklaces are of the type believed capable of being heard by spirits, ringing in both worlds, that of the ancestors and the living. Mendé Masks Masks represent the collective mind of the Mendé community; viewed as one body, they are seen as the Spirit of the Mendé people. The Mendé masked figures are a reminder that human beings have a dual existence; they live in the concrete world of flesh and material things as well as in the spirit world of dreams, faith, aspirations, and imagination. The standard set of Mendé maskers includes about a dozen personalities embodying spirits of varying degrees of power and importance. The most important of these personify and embody the powerful spirits belonging to the medicine societies: the goboi and gbini of the Poro society (the secret society for men), the sowei of the Sande society (the secret society for women), and the njaye and humoi maskers belonging to the eponymous medicine societies. The maskers of the Sande and Poro societies are responsible for enforcing laws and are important symbolic presences in the rituals of initiation and in public ceremonies that mark the coronations and funerals of chiefs and society officials. Sowei Masks The features of a Sowei mask convey Mendé ideals of female morality and physical beauty. They are somewhat unusual in that women traditionally wear the masks. The bird on top of the head represents a woman’s intuition that lets her see and know things that others can’t. The high or broad forehead represents good luck or the sharp, contemplative mind of the ideal Mendé woman. Downcast eyes symbolize a spiritual nature, and it is through these small slits that a woman wearing the mask would look out of. The small mouth signifies the ideal woman’s quiet and humble character. The markings on the cheeks are representative of the decorative scars girls receive as they step into womanhood. The neck rolls are an indication of the health of ideal women; they have also been called symbols of the pattern of concentric, circular ripples the Mendé spirit makes when emerging from the water. The intricate hairstyles reveal the close ties within a community of women. The holes at the base of the mask are where the rest of the costume is attached; a woman who wears these masks must not expose any part of her body, or it is believed a vengeful spirit may take possession of her. When a girl becomes initiated into the Sande society (the Mendé secret society for women), the village’s master woodcarver creates a special mask just for her. Helmet masks are made from a section of tree trunk, often of the kpole (cotton) tree, and then carved and hollowed to fit over the wearer’s head and face. The woodcarver must wait until he has a dream that guides him to make the mask a certain way for the recipient. A mask must be kept hidden in a secret place when no one is wearing it. These masks appear not only in initiation rituals but also at important events such as funerals, arbitrations, and the installation of chiefs. Helmet Mendé Mask: Helmet masks of the Mendé, Vai, Gola, Bassa and other peoples of the sub-region are the best documented instance of women’s masking in Africa. These masks are used by the Sande association, a powerful organization with social, political and religious significance. Although worn only by women, these masks, as is the case elsewhere in Africa, are carved by men. Gbini Masks Gbini is considered to be the most powerful of all Mendé maskers; it appears both at the final ceremony of the Poro initiation process for a son of the paramount chief and also at the coronation of funeral of a paramount chief. Because of its power, women are made to stand far back from gbini and if a woman accidentally touches it, she must be anointed with medicine immediately. The Gbini wears a large leopard skin, which indicates its association with the paramount chief. The flat, round headpiece resembles the chief’s crown. The headpiece is constructed of animal hide stretched over a bamboo framework, and the hide is decorated with cowrie shells and black, white, and red strips of cloth that are worked into a geometric pattern. At the center is a round mirror. Several flaps that are similarly decorated hang down from the base of the headpiece and overlap the cape, which covers much of the wearer’s torso. Gbini mask: Gbini mask, Mendé (wood, leopard skin, sheepskin, antelope skin, raffia fiber, cotton cloth, cotton string, cowry shells), from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum. Africa’s influence on modern art / April 9, 2019 AFRICAN ARTWORKS AND EARLY EUROPEAN CONTACT African arts today have come to be admired by art aficionados from all over the world, but it has not always been this way. There was a time when artworks from Africa was not considered worthy enough to be even displayed in European art museums. The Europeans at the time with their myopic view of artefacts from the continent, and assessment clouded by their supremacist and racist standpoint never even considered these artworks as art. Furthermore, the significance or purpose of the African art objects of which the Europeans were ignorant of, did not help the situation. Today not only are these same works of art appreciated, admired and proudly displayed the world over, but African arts have also come to influence the works of some great artists and ushered in the era of modern arts. Modern arts would not have existed without African arts. Most artworks from Africa are mostly but not limited to masks, paintings, textiles, and statues. Africans used different materials depending on their environment to produce these works, materials like wood, clay, shells, ivory, bronze, gold, copper, clay, feathers, bark and raffia. Artistic creations from Africa have some religious or ceremonial purposes and often times they are expressed as a combination of realism with the supernatural or downright abstract artistic expressions. Sometimes the works feature distorted elongated and exaggerated figures; sometimes the items are covered with bright dissonant colours resulting in a colour clash that is not necessarily complimentary or pleasing to the eye. Sometimes the surfaces are a repetition of geometric patterns. THE RISE OF AFRICAN ARTS The 19th century was rife with the colonization and invasion of the African continent by the European powers; they assumed control of most of the continent including its traditional items. European countries that took part in the Scramble for Africa collected numerous objects which they took back to Europe. These African artistic objects were not considered art initially but rather symbols of Europe’s imperial power. By the 1870s, European museums had already started exhibiting these African artefacts, not as art creations but rather as ethnographic artefacts of a less civilized people; the art objects were neither appreciated for their aesthetic nor expressive qualities, and the Europeans never understood the meaning or significance of these works. Towards the turn of the century in the early 1900s, several colonial art exhibitions took place in Europe especially in France and Germany including the Universal Exhibition in Paris which showcased some African statues and masks. These occasions afforded the public a chance to view a wide variety of many different African artworks. Initial public reaction was a combination of awe and horror at what they perceived to be savage, frightful and weird objects. Despite the mixed feelings, some open-minded and intellectually far-sighted artists many of whom were dissatisfied with the norm of European art began drawing inspiration from these African artworks. Meanwhile, the interest of the public in these so-called primitive or tribal artworks greatly increased, this fact is reflected in the sudden appearance of many of such African artefacts in various art museums all across Europe in the early 19th century, and a sharp rise in the number of art galleries that showcased such works. Around 1905 artists in Paris and Germany began to reflect some African characteristics in their works; this type of fusion is what gave rise to modern arts as we know it. Expressionist art movements came into being, and the art world as we know it took on a new and different approach to date all as a result of Africa’s artistic creations. A Fauvism Painting by André Derain THE INFLUENCE OF AFRICAN ARTS During the first decade of the 20th century, Africa’s artistic influence shook the world of arts. Several expressionist art movements came into being. The German group Die Bruecke was founded in 1905 by artists like Kirchner, Heckel, Nolde, Schmidt-Rottluff, and Pechstein. The group was noted for their bold use of clashing colours and distorted forms inspired by African arts. Radical young French painters like Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck, Rouault, and Dufy also followed suit. The term “Fauves” was used to describe their style. CUBISM Next, the term “Cubist” emerged in 1908 and was used to denote a series of paintings by Braque who was inspired by African arts, and later evolved to be applied as a label for a new style of art developed by Picasso and Braque, later joined by Gris and Léger. Cubism, in turn, influenced other artists like a German group “Der Blaue Reiter” founded in 1911 by Kandinsky, Marc, Campendonk, and Klee. Cubism also influenced the futurist school of Boccioni, Severini, and Carrá in France. Both the Fauves and the Cubists came to know and greatly value African arts from their different points of view. Within the space of a very short time, African artworks had already significantly started changing the world’s perception and creation of arts. Its influence on the art world was enormous. It inspired revolutionary and new approaches to creating arts like Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso’s cubism which started between 1907 and 1908. And was derived from Africa’s unique artistic representation of different things into a single figure, which was a sharp departure from European academicism. Both Picasso and Matisse collected African arts. Picasso had many African artworks in his private collections which inspired his creations. These artefacts mostly of sculptures and masks were obtained from countries like Nigeria, Mali, Gabon, Liberia, Congo and Coté d’ Ivoire. Matisse even travelled to Africa in pursuit of his artistic creations. The fundamental principle of cubism entails the representation of different views of things, usually objects or figures together onto a single picture, this often results in paintings that appear fragmented and abstract. It became one of the most influential painting styles of the twentieth century and began with Picasso’s celebrated painting the Demoiselles D’Avignon. In the painting, Africa’s influence on the creation of Picasso is evident, not only is this expressed in the way the human forms and the surrounding spaces are fractured and distorted but also in the faces of the two figures depicted at the right of the canvas, their features adopt the angular features of African masks. In cubism, the artist aims to show different viewpoints at the same time on the same space by breaking the objects and figures into distinct planes or areas and by so doing also suggest their three-dimensional form. By the representation of the objects, the two-dimensional flatness of the canvas is emphasized. This heralded a revolutionary break from the European artistic norm of forming the illusion of real space from a fixed viewpoint which since the Renaissance had dominated European artistic representation. The name cubism itself seems to have arisen from a comment by art critic Louis Vauxcelles, who and when commenting on some of Georges Braque’s paintings in a 1908 Paris exhibition described them as reducing everything to “geometric outlines, to cubes.” Cubism opened up limitless possibilities on the representation of visual reality through arts and marked the starting point for the deluge of European abstract arts which hitherto was not widely practised, including later abstract art styles like constructivism and neo-plasticism. Italian painter and sculptor Amendo Modigliani is another good example of the influence of African style of arts on Europeans and modern arts in general. His works clearly reflected the angular elongations and geometric patterning of African arts. Amendo Modigliani Sculpture Inspired by African Arts FAUVISM African artworks did not only give rise to the creation of cubism. Artists like Henri Matisse and André Derain took to the abstract and bright dissonant colour representations of some African artwork and thus birthed fauvism. Other European artists that were influenced by these artistic styles are Albert Marquet, Louis Valtat, Georges Braque, Maurice de Vlaminck, Charles Camoin, Kees Van Dongen, Jean Puy, Othon Friesz, Henri Manguin, Raoul Dufy, Georges Rouault, and Jean Metzinger. Artists like these favoured bold colours and forms over realism. The artistic creation of these artists illustrated a high degree of simplification and abstraction of the subject and was characterized by a seemingly wild brush work and strident colours. EXPRESSIONISM In Germany artists like Emil Nolde were to a vast extent influenced by African arts, especially pertaining to masks and sculptures even though they may be that they did not fully understand the meaning of African works or the intent of the anonymous creators of African art. Their style of art, influenced by African artworks, seeks to express the world exclusively from the perspective of the subject, the artwork is radically distorted for impact and to evoke moods or ideas. This type of art is known as expressionism; expressionist artists favour the expression of emotional experience over physical reality. Other artists that employ this style of art are Fritz Bleyl, Conrad Felixmüller, George Grosz, Erich Heckel, Carl Hofer, Heinrich Campendonk, Käthe Kollwitz, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, August Macke, Franz Marc, Ludwig Meidner, Rolf Nesch, Otto Mueller, Gabriele Münter, Max Beckmann, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff to name a few. Expressionist art started in Germany around 1905 at the time when African arts were beginning to gain acceptance. Natura Morta con Maschere III Mask From Dan Culture Africa Expressionists basically do not create art based on realism. The artist seeks to depict the subjective emotions and responses within a person that are aroused by objects and events. This expressionist style of art was started by the Germans grew and influenced the work of many other European and American artists like Marsden Hartley and Norris Embry. Even European sculptors like Ernst Barlach imbibed expressionism in his works. A good example of Africa’s influence in Emil Nolde’s work is in the Natura Morta con Maschere III painting, the simplified geometric features, exaggerated expressions, and bold colours reflect the core artistic design of African masks. African Influence on pop and jazz John rockwell NYT 1981 Africa might seem too large, imposing and omnipresent a continent to be subject to something so ephemeral as a pop and jazz ”revival.” But right now we seem to be in the midst of just such a revival, nonetheless. Everywhere Western musicians are turning to Africa, either for reaffirmation of a lost or dimly remembered ethnic heritage or for a more abstract kind of inspiration. To speak of Africa as if it offered a single, consistent musical style is, of course, a ludicrous oversimplification. As John Storm Roberts points out in his informative book, ”Black Music of Two Worlds,” Africa offers an area four times the size of the United States, with some 2,000 tribes speaking between 800 and 2,400 tongues, depending on whether some are counted as dialects or languages. But Mr. Roberts does isolate some general characteristics of black African music – its functional use in society, its indivisibility in the African mind from dance and theater, the use of instruments to imitate the human voice, the primacy of rhythm and particularly the combination of several simulataneous cross-rhythms, and the calland-response structure. In addition, there is North African music, closely related to – but distinct from – other forms of Moslem music, which is closely related both to black African music and to the folk music of Southern Spain. In America it has been blacks, naturally enough, who have pioneered the renewed interest in Africa. And of all American cities, it has been Chicago, the home of so vital an eruption of black jazz progressivism over the past 15 years, that has led the way – even if some of the key Chicago musicians have now moved to New York. Of the Chicago groups, the Art Ensemble of Chicago is perhaps the best known. But there is also the aptly titled Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, which has a new disk out called ”Three Gentlemen from Chikago” (Moers Music 01076, a German jazz label available in import stores or through Daybreak Express Records, 169 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215). The ensemble consists of Kahil El’Zabar, who plays percussion and flutes; Edward Wilkerson, winds, and (Light) Henry Huff, saxophones. There are four pieces on this disk, two of them frenzied free-jazz eruptions and appealing as such. But there are also two slow, quiet numbers, and here the measured rhythmic impulse and instrumental coloration suggest a more overtly African influence. George Lewis counts his experience in Chicago jazz circles as his formative years, even if he now lives in New York and directs the music program at the Kitchen, the downtown new-music center. Mr. Lewis’s work today amounts to a fascinating instance of the way some black jazz musicians are being revealed to have followed a parallel course to some ”classical” new-music composers. Mr. Lewis has been calling attention to that parallelism with a fine series of concerts this season at the Kitchen His latest album, ”Chicago Slow Dance” (Lovely Music VR 1101, available either at specialty shops or through Lovely Music, 463 West Street, New York, N.Y. 10014), enlists three longtime collaborators: Douglas Ewart and J.D. Parran, winds, and Richard Teitelbaum, a well-known electronic composer in his own right. To this, Mr. Lewis adds his skills as a trombonist and electronic composer. The results, in their quiet, intense way, are enthralling. Mr. Lewis has long been concerned with adducing aspects of the black experience without being blatant or self-conscious about the process. ”Chicago Slow Dance” has passages that suggest village drumming and mournful dialogues between voice-like brass instruments. But the music is far from being an ethnic pastiche. African evocations are hardly the sole preserve of jazz musicians. Some black pop musicians are turning to the Continent, as well, not least Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Mr. Gaye has moved to London but also has a home in Senegal, and has stated that he hopes to spend time in Africa and to use more and more African influences to enliven Motown formulas. His latest album, ”In Our Lifetime” (Tamla T8-374M1), is built up over a series of roiling instrumental tracks that recall a blend of George Clinton’s densest funk and the supercharged intensity of the Talking Heads’ album, ”Remain in Light.” Add to that Mr. Gaye’s winning ways as a singer, and you have what should be a massively popular blend of the accessible and the African – accessible even though one result of the African influence, as it was on the Talking Heads disk, has been a dissolution of the familiar structure of the Western pop song. Finally, due out shortly, there is the long-awaited duo album of David Byrne and Brian Eno, ”My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” (Warner Brothers SRK 6093). This is actually the missing link that should have preceeded ”Remain in Light” and which helps explain the process by which Mr. Byrne, who is the head Talking Head, and Mr. Eno arrived at their African-inspired idiom. But a problem with copyright permission and a desire to improve the album delayed its release until after ”Remain in Light.” Heads’ fans can rest assured that the revised version is no dilution of the original, even if the one disputed track is indeed a loss. The reason for the copyright problems was that the album is a melange of densely textured instrumental tracks and ”found objects,” many of which are tape recordings of voices taken from records or the radio. The result is a brilliantly alluring record, an aural collage surging with an almost fevered energy. The musical idiom will be familiar to admirers of ”Remain in Light” – full of cross-rhythms and polyphonic lines that knit together with an exciting precision. But here Mr. Eno has given his tendencies full rein toward a business of texture that still doesn’t impede the music’s momentum. After several years of mostly quiet ”ambient” disks, this reverts to the world of his solo rock records but purged of rock’s more tired conventions, enlivened by Mr. Byrne’s own intense and bizarre imagination and inspired by the rhythms and vocal colors of both black and Arab Africa. It is a superb achievement and an intimation of the growing influence Africa is likely to have on Western musicians in years to come. A version of this article appears in print on March 1, 1981, Section A, Page 2 of the National edition with the headline: THE AFRICAN INFLUENCE ON POP AND JAZZ MUSICIANS. AFRICAN INFLUENCES ON JAZZ IN THE AMERICAS Dharmadeva (2000) Introduction Though jazz originated in America, it was influenced by events and musicians from places in Africa and Europe and, in particular, is steeped in a rich West African heritage, derived from the slaves who brought with them their traditions. This is evident in both the United States of America and Cuba. In these countries slave owners took offence to the African slaves practising their musical rituals, particularly drumming, but allowed them to engage in private gatherings of foot stomping and hand clapping to substitute for drumming. Greater liberty was allowed at the Place Congo, a square in New Orleans, where slaves were allowed to dance, sing, and play percussion, banjo, fiddle and other instruments (Tirro: 6-7) in large circles, referred to as Ring Shouts. These ceremonies were largely based on voodoo culture (Yurochko: 5). New Orleans is generally thought to be the place where jazz began, branching out to the rest of the United States. Throughout the 19th century, the music at the Place Congo (Congo Square) was a way for African tribes to communicate, as in the talking drums of their homeland. With the resulting interaction between African cultures and that of immigrants from other countries new forms of music developed. This included the development of jazz at the end of the 19th century in New Orleans. The music of the slave dances held in Congo Square, was over time transposed into musical forms used by ensembles led by the likes of Buddy Bolden (1877-1931) and Joe ‘King’ Oliver (1885-1938) and his Creole Jazz Band of the 1920s (Gioia: 3-6). From there jazz went across America and around the world, multiplying into many different and unorthodox forms such as swing, bebop, free jazz, cool and jazz-rock fusion. Emergence of Rag and Stomptime At around the turn of the 19th century, black musicians such as W C Handy (1873-1958) and Scott Joplin (1868-1917) – the ‘King of Ragtime’ – played a novel style of piano called ‘jig piano’ or ragtime. This was an outgrowth of Negro dance music practices demanding great rhythmic prowess. In part, it can be traced back to the shout and fiddle music of the Gullahs (descendants of enslaved Africans) along the USA eastern seaboard who were among the last group of blacks brought to the USA from West Africa (Tirro: 6-7). Joplin’s style also incorporated music of minstrel shows, camp meetings and itinerant songsters, weaving these together into a melodic and rhythmic tapestry. Ragtime is actually mostly rhythm. In piano rag music, the left hand provides the percussive dance rhythm, while the right hand performs syncopated melodies, using motifs reminiscent of fiddle and banjo tunes. Popular songs include Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” and “The Entertainer” and pieces such as “Cuban Cake Walk” written by Tim Brymn (1881-1946). On becoming popular, after being used as music for the ‘cakewalk’ dance, ragtime was hurtled away from black communities into the mainstream and adopted by whites. It was also channelled into American jazz. After Joplin’s death greater improvisation was used and along with boogie woogie, a simple blues based piano style, ragtime played an important part in the birth of jazz. Negro worksongs (and children’s songs) had also taken on their own peculiarities in the USA, although derived from polyrhythmic patterns and the call and response styles of West Africa. Their contribution to early jazz music was the New Orleans Stomp or Stomptime. This was further developed by the Creoles, a significant sub-culture of blacks from Africa with French and Spanish ancestry who had a knowledge of Western art music (Yurochko: 10). The most noted musicians were Ferdinand ‘Jelly Roll’ Morton (1885-1942) with his Red Hot Peppers and Sidney Bechet (1897-1959). Stomptime takes a rhythmic figure and uses it as a melodic line so as to repeat it in an ostinato or riff pattern, leading to a polyphonic accentuation that produces strong rhythmic momentum within the improvising polyphony (Tirro: 129-130). Jelly Roll Morton brought an exotic style to jazz, which represents the transition from ragtime to jazz. In the piece called “Black Bottom Stomp” instruments are used to percussively stress a syncopated feel, and a call and response is used between the trumpet and rest of the ensemble. Morton wrote music using polyphony, harmonised passages, solo improvisations, and unusual instrumental combinations. From these early days of jazz, all the musical principles and aesthetic values of African music are evident and continued to be influential: interlocking and percussive rhythms, syncopation, density of sound or polyphony, ostinatos, improvised variations, and call and response. Polyrhythmic and polymetric patterns Percussion plays a primary role within nearly all Sub-Saharan African music. This involves cross rhythms and multiple rhythms and to a lesser degree simultaneous tempi embroidered with one another (Megill & Demory: 2). Several drummers usually perform at the same time, weaving a pattern of contrasting beats and accents and each player can be within their own ‘time signature’ (Chernoff: 45). One percussion part may have a 6 beat pattern and another 8 beats, dividing the overall time span of a 24 beat tune into different cycles. This is typical in BaMbuti Pygmy tunes (Turino: 171). Interlocking rhythms are also used in mbira (thumb piano) pieces of the Shona of Zimbabwe such as in “Nhemamusasa” (Turino: 166). The steady pulse or metronomic sense (Chernoff: 49) of an African rhythm ensemble in which additional rhythmic features are superimposed by various percussion instruments over the main instrument’s rhythmic pattern has its parallel in the jazz rhythm section (Tirro: 120). The emphasis of where the pulse is placed is important in both forms. African music stresses the ‘off-beats’ so that in a 4/4 time signature the second and fourth beats would be emphasised (Chernoff: 48). In the Ewe dances of Ghana the placement of stressed beats means that none of the drums play a dominant free beat on the first and third beats (Chernoff: 48). Similarly, jazz drummers often keep time by playing ‘boom CHICK boom CHICK’ (one TWO three FOUR) instead of ‘BOOM chick BOOM chick’ (ONE two THREE four). This syncopation is part of what makes a performance sound like jazz (Gridley: 361). In African percussion, one instrument’s down-beat becomes another’s up-beat. This can imperceptibly shift revealing a third or even a fourth counter-rhythm in African drumming ensembles. All these different rhythms are used to express the rhythms of life. Jazz pianists, such as McCoy Tyner (born 1938) who played with saxophonist John Coltrane (1926-1967), also use small jazz riffs creating polyrhythmic or polymetric effects so that the piano falls out of sync with the rest of the rhythm section for a short period and then comes back in. Just as in African music, so also in jazz, melodic instruments can be played in a percussive, rhythmic fashion depending on the piece. For example, in Duke Ellington’s big bands from the 1930s the lead trumpeter Cootie Williams (1911-1985) used his melodic instrument in a percussive, off-beat manner (Gridley). Syncopation Just as in the Ewe drum ensemble where the higher pitch cowbell contrasts against the drums, so also in jazz, the single free-hanging ride cymbal can provide a repetitive, syncopated feel over the dissonant chords of the piano and horns (Gridley: 78). Syncopation is the rhythmic effect produced when the expected rhythmic pattern is deliberately upset by shifting regular accents to weak beats. It can result in creating an effect of uneven rhythm and filling of spaces between beats, and comes from complex African drumming. In the 1910s, Negro conductors were leading syncopated orchestras (later called jazz orchestras). These dance orchestras and brass bands were another precursor to jazz when they started playing ragtime songs such as “Didn’t He Ramble” and syncopated marches on ceremonial occasions. Count Basie (1904-1984) and Lester Young (1909-1959), two eminent names in big band music, in their “Taxi War Dance” allow the trombone soloist, Dicky Wells (1907-1985), to play rapid eighth-notes stressing the off-beats. The result is known as swing (Gridley: 35). Some of Count Basie’s other best known works are “One O’Clock Jump” and “Jumping at the Woodside”. Swing is a noted aspect in jazz music. The feel of the pulse is derived from African musical performance and found in pieces such as the “Yarum Praise Song” (a slave song) which has a steady underlying and unwavering pulse but with syncopations added (Tirro: 12). Polyphony and big bands James Reese Europe (1881-1919) laid the groundwork for the greatest big bands (Sutro: 34) when he introduced certain innovations to the music such as writing up to as many as 10 or 12 different parts for each group of instruments in his band. This gave the music a full and symphonic quality not heard in other bands of the time (Balliett: 97). Following James Reese Europe was Fletcher Henderson (1898-1952) who really popularised the big band movement. He included exciting music and unorthodox instrumentation by using alto and tenor saxophones, clarinets, and tuba amidst a total of sixteen players. Chick Webb (1905-1939), a master percussionist, elaborated with his fast and explosive style and reigned over the birth of such Negro dances as the ‘lindy-hop’. The jazz innovators of the time drew heavily on various African musical roots in their playing, including complex rhythms, flexibility of pitch, polyphonic melodic structures, call and response patterns, and collective improvisation. When one instrument (such as the trumpet) plays the melody or a recognizable paraphrase or variation on it, and other instruments improvise around that melody, this creates a polyphonic sound. Polyphony is also featured in jazz from New Orleans. It was Chick Webb who introduced his singing protégé Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996) to the entertainment world. In the 1940s she used her voice to popularise bebop, a style of jazz that is fast-moving, uses highly intricate melodies, complex rhythms and dissonant harmonies in which the soloist dominants over the rest of the band. She brought to life the bebop style of jazz, with emotional emphasis on the solo, which was an innovation without polyphonic emphasis. However, polyphonic big bands continued to flourish, even though other styles of jazz such as bebop developed, and they became more innovative. Stan Kenton (1911-1979) with his reputation for offbeat compositions, provocative arrangements and fiery soloists augmented his big bands with extra brass and percussion as a form of innovation. It was Duke Ellington who came to represent the ideal big ‘swinging band’. His rambunctious post-ragtime/boogie woogie style was avante-garde and his compositions began to transcend style. His orchestra had many guises as seen in pieces like “Caravan”, “Latin American Suite”, “Prelude to a Kiss” and his Africa-based works. By the 1960s and 1970s when jazz had become electrified, swirls of sound were able to be created and people like jazz trumpeter Miles Davis (1926-1991) did precisely that in albums such as “Bitches Brew” which was essentially the invention of jazz-rock. This form involved electronic instruments, sound flurries, anarchic textures, a freer jazz, but bound by an intense rock-inspired rhythm section. African traditional influences also found their way into the kind of jazz-rock fusion played by bands such as Weather Report. Ostinato In many African music traditions everyone has an active role and each person performs in some manner. This is particularly so with respect to the BaMbuti Pygmy culture (Turino: 170-171). To accomplish equal involvement of musicians use is made of constant repetitions of rhythmic patterns or ostinatos. These may seem monotonous and unmoving, but provide a strong way to communicate on one level and maintain stability. In jazz, short phrases, called riffs, are also repeated in this way. These can provide ideas to the jazz soloist or create momentum for the performers and drive within the ensemble. This was evident early on with the style played by the boogie woogie pianists (Gridley: 44). The professional or jali musicians of the Mande people of Mali and other places of West Africa use a repeating kumbengo part or ostinato when playing the kora (a 21 stringed bridge harp over a gourd sound box). Repeating bass figures and repeating rhythmic patterns on the metallic-sounding karinyan are also common in Mali peasant songs such as “Hunter’s Dance”. Traditional mbira pieces from Zimbabwe use ostinatos that descend progressively and then repeat. Similarly, in Count Basie’s piece “One O’Clock Jump” a simple riff pattern, played by the saxophones, is incorporated to give it a swing feeling (Gridley). Likewise, Archie Shepp (born 1937), a ‘free jazz’ saxophonist, in his piece “Le Matin Des Noire” (“The Morning of the Blacks”), by using African derived patterns, communicates the condition of blacks in American society in his ‘musical commentaries’ through use of ostinatos in his solos which have a syncopated feel and utilisation of various buzzings in his tone. Improvisation The use of buzzings, overblown notes, shrieks and cries are actually techniques used in improvisation. Usually improvisation involves creating personalised melodies and rhythms within the context of the music being performed, but can also extend further than that by use of a wide range of ornamentations. Improvisation is a key element in jazz music and derives from Sub-Saharan Africa where it is used by many tribal groups and drum ensembles. In the Mandinka drum ensemble, the senior player has leeway to improvise more than the others, but all members are allowed to slightly vary their parts as they play (Gridley: 40). The kora player will use an instrumental interlude with vocable singing, called the birimintingo, as their form of improvisation (Turino: 173-175). In jazz, improvisational techniques have simply matured and adopted their own style, but the basic element, of the soloist utilising percussive or melodic qualities, still connects to African music as do the various roughings, buzzes, or ringing sounds that can be incorporated into the soloist’s idea. Drummers in the Ewe drum ensembles of Ghana may use bottletops around their drums to create a buzzing sound and the mbira players of Zimbabwe will do the same with their gourds covering the mbira. Jazz drummers may instead insert rivets into a cymbal so that the vibrations create a sizzling sound (Gridley: 44). Similarly, many jazz instrumentalists create unique sounds to improvise on tone quality and not just melodic or rhythmic ideas. This ‘dirtying’ of the sound is an aesthetic feature found in much African music, particularly by adding rattling and buzzing to tonal sounds. Louis Armstrong (1900-1971), the famous jazz trumpeter’s style was to leave the melody during his flights of improvisation thereby creating new melodies. This marked the change from group improvisation of the early brass bands to featured artist improvisations. His rhythmic style also saw the transition to free-flowing swing from the rigidity of ragtime. But for Charlie Parker (1920-1955), the bebop jazz saxophonist, swing had become repetitive. Parker’s melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic sense and longer, complicated improvisations were extremely fluid and immediately engaging. This was revolutionary for the 1940’s. The great saxophonist, John Coltrane (1926-1967) went to the extreme of utilising unique sounds by producing tones from raspings and buzzings, smooth to guttural and full to shrieking. This is most evident in his major long works such as “Kulu Se Mama” (incorporating many African rhythms) and “Ascension”. The rousing free shouts and soul-wrenching jazz hollers of Charles Mingus (1922-1979) also reach with the same emotional punch while he plays bass. In improvisation, notes ‘in-between’ notes which derive from a variety of scales can also be employed. This enables a musician to maintain a mood by playing around one scale or mode. It is this modal approach which also forms the fundamentals of African (and European) jazz music. Miles Davis playing his trumpet made prolific albums such as “Milestones” and “Kind of Blue” using the modal style. Call-and-response The call and response of the African tradition has carried through into urban jazz and is found in early pieces such as “West End Blues” by Joe ‘King’ Oliver (1885-1938). Jazz makes use of call and response by employing an antiphonal relationship between two solo instruments or between solo and ensemble. In many forms it involves the lead singer or instrument performing a short phrase or call followed by a response from a congregation or group of instruments. In Africa, the BaMbuti Pygmies often use a pattern of || C1/R C1/R C2/R C2/R ||. Regardless of how simple or complex the pattern, the underlying idea of call and response is that a cyclical rhythm is formed by constant repetitions. This is also employed by the Ewe drum ensembles of Ghana (Turino: 178) between the middle size drums of sogo and kidi. Vocally, Louis Armstrong employed the technique of an instrument providing the primary call followed by Louis’ vocal scat response which he embellishes and improvises as the interaction between them progresses. For example, he would use scats in his call-and-response dialogue with the guitarist, echoing or mimicking the scat line. Call and response between the brass ensemble and saxophones within a big band was also very common. For example, in Duke Ellington’s “Cottontail” there is a repetitive interaction between both sections and their statements become shorter and more intense in the closing (Gridley). Cuba The African influence on jazz did not just extend to the USA. Cuba cannot be overlooked, where the persistence of the slave trade until its late abolition in 1886 is a reason for the density and variety of its African cultural elements. By the end of the 19th century some 14 distinct African ‘nations’ had preserved their identity in Cuba through mutual aid support societies known as cabildos thereby providing an opportunity for the preservation of their culture, on an island where the indigenous population had been virtually exterminated by the Spanish long ago. The term Kongo encompasses the diversity of peoples brought to Cuba from Africa during the years of slavery. Their secular form of music during the 19th century incorporated the use of yuka drums played in groups of three. These were made by hollowing out tree trunk sections of various sizes and nailing on cowhides. The largest master drum is the caja held between the legs of the drummer. The caja player often wears a pair of wrist rattles. Another musician plays a pair of sticks against the body of the caja, usually on a piece of tin nailed to the base of the drum. This stick is called the guagua or cajita, and may be played on a separate instrument. The middle drum is the mula, and the smallest is the cachimbo. A guataca (a hoe blade played with a large nail or spike) is used as a timekeeper. Yuka dancing featured the vacunao, a pelvic movement found in Kongo derived dance styles. In Cuba, the European instruments like flute, violin, trumpet and guitar met with African congas, bongos and claves and Spanish rhythms fused with that of Africa to create new hybrids, while sharing the same West African, primarily Yoruba, roots. New Orleans was the main port of entry for Cuban rhythms and their impact on American jazz. This influence is seen from as early as W C Handy’s “St. Louis Blues” as performed by Louis Armstrong and the “Jungle Music” that launched Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club. It is seen in the 1940s and 1950s when Cuban born Frank Grillo (1908-1984), known as “Machito”, and trumpet player Mario Bauza (1911-1993) formed a big band called ‘Machito’s Afro-Cubans’ for which Bauza wrote “Tanga” in 1943, the quintessential Afro-Cuban jazz piece. Machito and Bauza also helped introduce Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993) and other jazz giants to African strains in Cuban music. Gillespie is largely credited with the invention of Afro-Cuban jazz while collaborating with Chano Pozo (1915-1948), the great congero percussionist, in the 1940s. “Dizzy Gillespie Live at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium” contains great examples of seminal Afro-Cuban jazz with compositions like “Manteca”, “Tin Tin Deo”, “Cubano Be” and “Cubano Bop”. As leader of the 1940s bebop movement, Afro-Cuban jazz was often referred to a Cubop. In the 1950s composer and trumpeter Arturo ‘Chico’ O’Farrill (1921-2001) of Havana composed the “Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite”, which was the first extended composition written in that idiom. He used the big band to explore Afro-Cuban rhythms in large-scale extended compositional works. He also composed symphonic works for jazz. Son and Afro-Latin jazz In Cuba songs (and dance) in a style called son, (literally ‘sound’) is one of the most popular and influential musical forms. Son originated in the second half of the 19th century in the rural areas but was further developed by the poor working class of Cuba in the 1920s. Larger ensembles were also formed that included a marimbula (derived from the African thumb piano), later replaced by the double bass, and percussion such as the giro or gourd, bongos, maracas and claves. Now all manner of brass and wind instruments are included. Son combines African percussion and rhythmic patterns (probably of Bantu origin who came from the Congo) with the Spanish lyrical style of décima (stanzas of 10 octosyllabic lines in the form abbaa/aabba in which improvisation plays a major role). The basic rhythmic pattern of the son is the clave (literally ‘key’) played on 2 hand-held cylindrical hard wooden sticks, also called claves (approximately 12-18 cm long) which are struck together producing a high-pitched, resonant sound. The clave rhythm is a five-note, two-bar rhythm pattern which gives son a type of propulsive swing and a strongly syncopated style. Typically, the claves player sets the clave beat played in common 4/4 time. In the first measure, the musician strikes the claves on the first downbeat, on the second upbeat, and on the fourth downbeat (3 strikes). In the second measure, the emphasis is placed on the second and third downbeats (2 strikes). This off-balance beat accenting either one and three, or two and four, in the four beat measure can also be reversed as a 2-3 clave. The son had a direct impact on American music coinciding with the dance crazes of the rumba in the 1930s in which traditionally dancers come out one at a time, or in pairs, to ‘strut their stuff’ in front of their peers and rivals, the mambo (up tempo versions of the son) in the 1940s, and the chachachá in the 1950s prior to the Cuban Revolution (Waxer). The guaracha, an early Cuban dance genre, also uses the son style as does the more general party salsa music of the 1970s. These dances resulted in the appearance of large Latin music bands combining trumpet, trombone, and saxophone sections of American swing era big bands with Afro-Cuban rhythms and repertoire and giving rise to Afro-Latin jazz. This is a genre of jazz that typically employs rhythms that have direct or indirect African influences. The two main categories of Afro-Latin jazz are: the Afro-Cuban style based on clave, often with a rhythm section employing ostinato patterns; and Afro-Brazilian jazz noticeably the bossa nova and samba styles. Rumba and Afro-Cuban jazz In Cuban music, rumba is a genre involving dance, percussion, and song. The rumba style is most influenced by African rhythms. It derives from the Congo Basin in Africa. The modern rumba may have grown out of older rhythms (Walser: 208) played on the yuka drums made from hollowed out tree trunks. Some forms use the guagua stick and wrist rattles. The main stylistic difference is that the lead or co-ordinating rumba drum is always the high-pitched quinto, the two deeper tone support drums having taken over the ostinato patterns. This reversal is probably an European influence on rumba drumming. In addition to brass and woodwind, the cowbell and shékere (a large gourd covered with a beadladen net) may be used. As well as the jam session or descarga (a folkloric rumba), there are 3 main rhythms in rumba, each with its own dance: yambú, columbia and guaguancó. These rhythms are marked by distinctly African traits such as polymeter, offbeat phrasing of musical accents, and reliance on a metronomic sense (Waterman: 211214). Singing is done by a chorus (usually large to give it energy) and a succession of lead singers, who compete to lead the songs and uphold their honour as rumberos. Use is made of verbal improvisation skills and call and response to build excitement and generate participation by dancers and the chorus. While the three varieties differ in instrumentation, vocal style and choreography, they all mimic each other to some degree. The yambú is performed in slow tempo and is often considered an old people’s dance. In yambú, there is no pelvic movement. The columbia (actually in 6/8 time) began in the rural areas and involves a male solo dance that features many complex acrobatics and imitations of ball players, bicyclists, cane-cutters and other figures. The dancer may also reproduce steps of the Abakwa religious tradition (from the Cross River region in Nigeria, which the Cubans call Carabali). The guaguancó is the modern, urban form of rumba popular in Havana. Its dances often involve stylised sexual pursuits. While Afro-Cuban jazz originated in the 1940s, a more recent development in the 1970s is the batá-rumba for a big band setting. Chucho Valdes (born 1941), the great Cuban pianist, introduced the bata and other African instruments of theYoruba into Cuban popular music via oral traditions learnt from older musicians. The rumba/jazz fusion synthesis of Irakere (meaning ‘jungle’ in Yoruba) was the result, forging a funky, modern rock style while focusing on African elements of Cuban culture, especially rhythmic contributions. Irakere helped develop the careers of such internationally recognised musicians as saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera (born 1948) and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval (born 1949) of Cuba. Conclusion Even though the direct African influence on jazz in the USA was already several generations removed, that influence did exist as an evolving phenomenon ever since the forced transmigration of people from Africa as slaves. This ‘black expressiveness’ and undercurrent can be seen in musical characteristics such as improvised and vital emotionalism, spontaneity, swinging beats, moving riffs, and swirling complex rhythms. The development of Afro-Latin jazz and in particular the form of Afro-Cuban jazz further demonstrates how African influences extended to Cuba and had a more direct impact on its music. Even this separate development found its way into the USA as the ‘Latin’ influence on jazz. This is yet another demonstration of the variety and colourfulness of jazz and its constant evolution. It also speaks highly of the resilient and dynamic cultures of Africa, despite their past oppression. BIBLIOGRAPHY Balliett, Whitney. 1986, American Musicians: 56 Portraits in Jazz, Oxford University Press. Chernoff, John Miller.1979, African Rhythm and African Sensibilities, University of Chicago Press. Gioia, Ted. 1997, The History of Jazz, Oxford University Press. Gridley, Mark C. 1994, Jazz Styles – History and Analysis, 5th ed. Prentice Hall. Megill, Donald D. & Demory, Richard S. 1996, Introduction to Jazz History, 4th ed. Prentice Hall. Sutro, D. 1998, Jazz for Dummies, IDG Books Worldwide. Tirro, Frank. 1993, Jazz: A History, 2nd ed. WW Norton & Co. Turino, T. 1997, “The Music of Sub-Saharan Africa” in Excursions in World Music, 2nd ed. Nettl, B. ed., Prentice Hall, pp 161-190. Walser, Robert. 1995, “Rhythm, Rhyme, and Rhetoric in the Music of Public Enemy” in Ethnomusicology, vol. 39, no. 2 (spring/summer), University of Illinois, pp193-217. Waterman, Richard Allen. 1967, “African Influence on the Music of the Americas” in Acculturation in the Americas: Proceedings and Selected Papers of the XXIX International Congress of Americanists, Sol Tax, ed., Cooper Square Publishers, pp 207217. Waxer, Lise. 1994, “Of Mambo Kings and Songs of Love; Dance Music in Havana and New York From the 1930s to the 1950s” in Latin American Music Review, vol. 15, no.2 (fall/winter), University of Texas Press. Yurochko, Bob. 1993, A Short History of Jazz, Nelson-Hall Publishers. Other books of interest Ashenafi, Kebede. 1995, Roots of Black Music, African World Press. de Lerma, Dominique-Rene. 1970, Black Music in Our Culture, Kent State University Press. Dennison, Sam. 1982, Scandalize My Name: Black Imagery in American Popular Music, Garland Publishing. Feather, Leonard. 1965, The Book of Jazz from Then to Now, Bonanza. Locke, Alain. 1936, The Negro and His Music, Associates Negro Folk Education. Lyttelton, Humphrey. 1982, The Best of Jazz II: Enter the Giants 1931-1944, Taplinger Publishing Co. Morris, Berenice Robinson. 1974, American Popular Music of the 20th Century, Franklin Watts. Roach, Hildred. 1976, Black American Music: Past and Present, Crescendo Publishing Co. Southern, Eileen. 1971, The Music of Black Americans, WW Norton & Co. 18
This is a Humanities class, I did not see the option below. Book: Boundless Art History by Lumen Corporation Chapters: 19-20-21 Choose a topic from Module 1, Which covers Non-Western Art that you
Japan After 1333 CE Top of Form Search for: Bottom of Form The Modern Period Japanese Art in the Meiji Period The art of the Meiji period (1868–1912) was marked by a division between European and traditional Japanese styles. Learning Objectives Explain how the conflict caused by Europeanization and modernization during the Meiji Period was reflected in the artwork of the time Key Takeaways Key Points The Meiji period (September 1868 through July 1912) represents the first half of the Empire of Japan, during which Japanese society moved from being an isolated feudalism to its modern form. During this period, western style painting (Yōga) was officially promoted by the government, which sent promising young artists abroad for studies and hired foreign artists to establish an art curriculum at Japanese schools. After an initial burst of western style art, there was a revival of appreciation for traditional Japanese styles (Nihonga) led by art critic Okakura Kakuzo and educator Ernest Fenollosa. In the 1880s, western style art was banned from official exhibitions and was severely criticized by critics. Supported by Okakura and Fenollosa, the Nihonga style evolved with influences from the European pre-Raphaelite movement and European romanticism. In 1907, with the establishment of the Bunten exhibitions, both competing groups—Yōga and Nihonga—found mutual recognition and co-existence and even began the process toward mutual synthesis. Key Terms pre-Raphaelite movement: An art movement founded by a group of English painters, poets, and critics with the intention of reforming art by rejecting what they considered to be the mechanistic approach first adopted by the Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphael and Michelangelo. feudalism: A social system based on personal ownership of resources, personal fealty of a lord by a subject, and a hierarchical social structure reinforced by religion. Romanticism: An artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century and in most areas was at its peak from 1800 to 1840; partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, it was also a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature. Overview: The Meiji Period The Meiji period (明 Meiji-jidai) was an era in Japanese history that extended from September 1868 through July 1912. This period represents the first half of Japan’s time as an imperial power. Fundamental changes affected Japan’s social structure, internal politics, economy, military, and foreign relations. Japanese society moved from being an isolated feudalism to its modern form. In art, this period was marked by the division into competing European and traditional indigenous styles. In 1907, with the establishment of the Bunten exhibition under the aegis of the Ministry of Education, both competing groups found mutual recognition and co-existence and even began the process towards mutual synthesis. The Yōga Style During the Meiji period, Japan underwent a tremendous political and social change in the course of the Europeanization and modernization campaign organized by the Meiji government. Western style painting (Yōga) was officially promoted by the government, which sent promising young artists abroad for studies. The Yōga style painters formed the Meiji Bijutsukai (Meiji Fine Arts Society) to hold its own exhibitions and to promote a renewed interest in western art. Foreign artists were also hired to come to Japan to establish an art curriculum in Japanese schools. The Yōga style encompassed oil painting, watercolors, pastels, ink sketches, lithography, etching, and other techniques developed in western culture. Yōga style painting of the Meiji period by Kuroda Seiki (1893): Yōga, in its broadest sense, encompasses oil painting, watercolors, pastels, ink sketches, lithography, etching, and other techniques developed in western culture. However, in a more limited sense, Yōga is sometimes used specifically to refer to oil painting. The Nihonga Style After an initial burst of western style art, however, the pendulum swung in the opposite direction. Led by art critic Okakura Kakuzo and educator Ernest Fenollosa, there was a revival of appreciation for traditional Japanese styles (Nihonga). In the 1880s, western style art was banned from official exhibitions and was severely criticized by critics. Supported by Okakura and Fenollosa, the Nihonga style evolved with influences from the European pre-Raphaelite movement and European romanticism. Paintings of this style were made in accordance with traditional Japanese artistic conventions, techniques, and materials based on traditions over a thousand years old. Nihonga style painting: Black Cat by Kuroki Neko, 1910): Nihonga style paintings were made in accordance with traditional Japanese artistic conventions, techniques, and materials. While based on traditions over a thousand years old, the term was coined in the Meiji period of the Imperial Japan to distinguish such works from Western style paintings, or Yōga. Japanese Art in the Showa Period During the Shōwa period, Japan shifted toward totalitarianism until its defeat in World War II, when it led an economic and cultural recovery. Learning Objectives Create a timeline describing the upheaval, occupation, democratic reforms, and economic boom of the pre- and post-war Shōwa period Key Takeaways Key Points The Shōwa period in Japanese history corresponds to the reign of the Shōwa Emperor, Hirohito, from December 25, 1926 through January 7, 1989. Japanese painting in the pre-war Shōwa period was largely dominated by the work of Yasui Sōtarō (1888–1955) and Umehara Ryūzaburō (1888–1986). During World War II, government controls and censorship meant that only patriotic themes could be expressed, and many artists were recruited into the government propaganda effort. After the end of World War II in 1945, many artists began working in art forms derived from the international scene, moving away from local artistic developments into the mainstream of world art. Key Terms Treaty of San Francisco: A treaty between Japan and part of the Allied Powers, officially signed by 48 nations on September 8, 1951 and coming into force on April 28, 1952; representing the official conclusion of World War II, it ended Japan’s position as an imperial power and allocated compensation to Allied civilians and former prisoners of war who had suffered Japanese war crimes. Surrealism: An artistic movement and an aesthetic philosophy, pre-dating abstract expressionism, that aims for the liberation of the mind by emphasizing the critical and imaginative powers of the subconscious. fascism: A political regime having totalitarian aspirations, ideologically based on a relationship between business and the centralized government, business-and-government control of the market place, repression of criticism or opposition, a leader cult, and exalting the state and/or religion above individual rights. Overview: The Shōwa Period The Shōwa period in Japanese history corresponds to the reign of the Shōwa Emperor, Hirohito (裕), from December 25, 1926 through January 7, 1989. The Shōwa period was longer than the reign of any previous Japanese emperor. During the pre-1945 period, Japan moved toward political totalitarianism, ultra-nationalism, and fascism, culminating in Japan’s invasion of China in 1937. This was part of an overall global period of social upheavals and conflicts such as the Great Depression and the Second World War. Defeat in the Second World War brought radical change to Japan. For the first and only time in its history, Japan was occupied by foreign powers. This occupation by the United States on behalf of the Allied Forces (which included the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and China) lasted seven years. Allied occupation brought forth sweeping democratic reforms, leading to the end of the emperor’s status as a living god and the transformation of Japan into a democracy with a constitutional monarch. In 1952, with the Treaty of San Francisco, Japan became a sovereign nation once more and underwent an economic revitalization. In these ways, the pre-1945 and post-war periods regard completely different states: the pre-1945 Shōwa period (1926–1945) concerns the Empire of Japan, while the post-1945 Shōwa period (1945–1989) was a part of the State of Japan. Art in the Pre-War Shōwa Period Japanese painting in the pre-war Shōwa period was largely dominated by Yasui Sōtarō (1888–1955) and Umehara Ryūzaburō (1888–1986). These artists introduced the concepts of pure art and abstract painting to the Nihonga tradition (a style based on traditional Japanese art forms) and thus created a more interpretative version of that genre. Yasui Sōtarō was strongly influenced by the realistic styles of the French artists Jean-François Millet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Paul Cézanne; he incorporated clear outlines and vibrant colors in his portraits and landscapes, combining western realism with the softer touches of traditional Nihonga techniques. This trend was further developed by Leonard Foujita (also known as Fujita Tsuguharu) and the Nika Society to encompass surrealism. To promote these trends, the Independent Art Association was formed in 1930. Portrait of Chin-Jung (1934) by Yasui Sōtarō. The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.: Yasui Sōtarō was strongly influenced by the the realistic styles of the French artists Jean-François Millet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and, in particular, Paul Cézanne. He incorporated clear outlines and vibrant colors in his portraits and landscapes, combining western realism with the softer touches of traditional Nihonga techniques. By the early 20th century, European art forms were also introduced into Japanese architecture. Their marriage with traditional Japanese styles of architecture produced notable buildings like the Tokyo Train Station and the National Diet Building that still exist today. Tokyo Station: Tokyo Station opened on December 20, 1914, and was heavily influenced by European architectural styles. Art in the Post-War Shōwa Period During World War II, government controls and censorship meant that only patriotic themes could be expressed, and many artists were recruited into the government propaganda effort. After the end of World War II in 1945, many artists began working in art forms derived from the international scene, moving away from local artistic developments into the mainstream of world art. Traditional Japanese conceptions endured, however, particularly in the use of modular space in architecture, certain spacing intervals in music and dance, a propensity for certain color combinations, and characteristic literary forms. Japanese Art after World War II After World War II, Japanese artists became preoccupied with the mechanisms of urban life and moved from abstraction to anime-influenced art. Learning Objectives Describe the flourishing of painting, calligraphy, and printmaking after World War II Key Takeaways Key Points In the post-World War II period of Japanese history, the government-sponsored Japan Art Academy (Nihon Geijutsuin) was formed in 1947, containing both nihonga and yōga divisions. After World War II, painters, calligraphers, and printmakers flourished in the big cities, particularly Tokyo, and became preoccupied with the mechanisms of urban life, reflected in the flickering lights, neon colors, and frenetic pace of their abstractions. After the abstractions of the 1960s, the 1970s saw a return to realism strongly flavored by the “op” and “pop” art movements, embodied in the 1980s in the explosive works of Ushio Shinohara. By the late 1970s, the search for Japanese qualities and a national style caused many artists to reevaluate their artistic ideology and turn away from what some felt were the empty formulas of the West. Contemporary paintings began to make conscious use of traditional Japanese art. There are also a number of contemporary painters in Japan whose work is largely inspired by anime subcultures and other aspects of popular and youth culture, such as the work of Takashi Murakami. Key Terms Rinpa school: One of the major historical schools of Japanese painting, created in 17th-century Kyoto by Hon’ami Kōetsu (1558–1637) and Tawaraya Sōtatsu (d. c. 1643). Nitten: The annual Japan Art Academy Awards and the premier art exhibition in Japan. Japanese Art After World War II Welcoming the new post-World War II period of Japanese history, the government-sponsored Japan Art Academy (Nihon Geijutsuin) was formed in 1947. The Academy contained both nihonga (traditional Japanese) and yōga (European-influenced) divisions. Government sponsorship of art exhibitions had ended, but they were replaced by private exhibitions, such as the Nitten, on an even larger scale. Although the Nitten was initially the exhibition of the Japan Art Academy, since 1958 it has been run by a separate private corporation. Participation in the Nitten became almost a prerequisite for nomination to the Japan Art Academy. The arts of the Edo and prewar periods (1603–1945) had been supported by merchants and urban people, but they were not as popular as the arts of the postwar period. After World War II, painters, calligraphers, and printmakers flourished in the big cities—particularly Tokyo—and became preoccupied with the mechanisms of urban life, reflected in the flickering lights, neon colors, and frenetic pace of their abstractions. Styles of the New York-Paris art world were fervently embraced. After the abstractions of the 1960s, the 1970s saw a return to realism strongly flavored by the “op” and “pop” art movements, embodied in the 1980s in the explosive works of Ushio Shinohara. Ushio Shinohara Japanese painter Ushio Shinohara paint boxing at SUNY New Paltz, 2012. Many such outstanding avant-garde artists worked both in Japan and abroad, winning international prizes. Some of these artists felt more identified with the international school of art rather than anything specifically Japanese. By the late 1970s, the search for Japanese qualities and a national style caused many artists to reevaluate their artistic ideology and turn away from what some felt were the empty formulas of the West. Contemporary paintings within the modern idiom began to make conscious use of traditional Japanese art forms, devices, and ideologies. Mono-ha Mono-ha is the name given to group of 20th century Japanese artists. The mono-ha artists explored the encounter between natural and industrial materials, such as stone, steel plates, glass, light bulbs, cotton, sponge, paper, wood, wire, rope, leather, oil, and water, arranging them in mostly unaltered, ephemeral states. The works focus as much on the interdependency of these various elements and the surrounding space as on the materials themselves. A number of mono-ha artists turned to painting to recapture traditional nuances in spatial arrangements, color harmonies, and lyricism. Nihonga, Rinpa, and Kano Influence Japanese-style, or nihonga painting continued in a pre-war fashion, updating traditional expressions while retaining their intrinsic character. Some artists within this style still painted on silk or paper with traditional colors and ink, while others used new materials, such as acrylics. Many other older schools of art were still practiced, most notably those of the Edo and pre-war periods. For example, the decorative naturalism of the Rinpa school, characterized by brilliant, pure colors and bleeding washes, was reflected in the work of many artists of the postwar period in the 1980s art of Hikosaka Naoyoshi. The realism of Maruyama Ōkyo’s School and the calligraphic and spontaneous Japanese style of the gentlemen-scholars were both widely practiced in the 1980s. At times, all of these schools (along with older ones, such as the Kano School ink traditions) were drawn on by contemporary artists in the Japanese style and in the modern idiom. Many Japanese-style painters were honored with awards and prizes as a result of renewed popular demand for Japanese-style art beginning in the 1970s. More and more, the international modern painters also drew on the Japanese schools as they turned away from Western styles in the 1980s. The tendency had been to synthesize East and West, and some artists such as Shinoda Toko had already leapt the gap between the two. Shinoda’s bold sumi ink abstractions were inspired by traditional calligraphy but were realized as lyrical expressions of modern abstraction. Anime Influence There are also a number of contemporary painters in Japan whose work is largely inspired by anime subcultures and other aspects of popular and youth culture. Takashi Murakami is perhaps among the most famous and popular of these, along with the other artists in his Kaikai Kiki studio collective. His work centers on expressing issues and concerns of post-war Japanese society through seemingly innocuous forms. He draws heavily from anime and related styles but produces paintings and sculptures in media more traditionally associated with fine arts, intentionally blurring the lines between commercial, popular, and fine arts. Sculpture by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami at Versailles, France. 2007–2010 bronze and gold leaf.: Takashi Murakami is perhaps the most famous and popular contemporary Japanese artist whose work is largely inspired by anime subcultures and other aspects of popular and youth culture. Hayao Miyazaki’s movies: why are they so special? Miyazaki has captured the hearts of film-goers worldwide and won the best animated film Oscar in 2003 for the spooky and surreal Spirited Away The stories he animates may be full of whimsy, but the Japanese genius is a hard taskmaster who sets exacting standards for himself, his peers and studio staff A still from Spirited Away (2001). Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki won the best animated film Oscar in 2003 for the spooky and surreal film. Photo: Studio Ghibli After Walt Disney, Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki is the best-known animator in the world. Since making his big- screen debut with The Castle of Cagliostro in 1979, films such as 1988’s My Neighbour Totoro – a gentle story about friendly woodland spirits that still stands as his signature piece – have frequently topped the Japanese charts, broken box-office records, and won awards in Japan. Acclaim from animators in the United States led to a breakthrough in the West around the start of the new millennium, and Miyazaki’s films began to gain international appeal after the US release of the ecologically aware Princess Mononoke in 1999. Miyazaki won the best animated film Oscar in 2003 for the spooky and surreal Spirited Away, which also shared the prestigious Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2002. Miyazaki, who was born in Tokyo in 1941, began his career working in television at Toei Animation, but most of his films have been produced by Studio Ghibli, which he founded with his friends and colleagues Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki in 1985. Ghibli halted production in 2014 when Miyazaki announced his retirement, but reopened in 2017 when he decided to go back to work on How Do You Live?, which is currently some three years away from completion. Miyazaki will receive his first North American museum retrospective when the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is inaugurated in April 2021. Miyazaki waves to photographers during the premiere for his movie Ponyo on the Cliff during the 65th Venice International Film Festival in Venice, Italy. Photo: AFP In spite of his avuncular appearance, Miyazaki is known as a hard and sometimes ruthless taskmaster who sets exacting standards for himself, his peers, and his employees. He is a workaholic who sometimes falls asleep at his desk, and admits he has often neglected his health – and his family – in the pursuit of his art. What’s special about his work? Miyazaki is a genius, and his films succeed on many levels – technical, emotional, intellectual, philosophical, artistic, and political. They are adored by children and serious film critics alike. Animated films are often aimed at the young, and with the exception of his anti-war fable , all of Miyazaki’s films are aimed at children or young teenagers. But he makes his films resonate with adults as well as children by keeping the emotions authentic. A still from Spirited Away (2001). The film shared the prestigious Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2002. Miyazaki does not underestimate the intelligence of children, or their powers of understanding. Characters in films like Castle in the Sky are not protected from the horrors of life – they experience loss and sadness as well as joy, despair as well as hope, in a way that is relatable for both children and adults. Similarly, Miyazaki does not shy away from addressing adult themes like militarism and environmentalism. He believes that children should be exposed to such ideas and will understand them if they are presented correctly. Miyazaki draws heavily on Japanese landscapes and culture, although the humanism of his films means they can be appreciated by international viewers. He loves the country’s woodlands (which he says contain more bugs than those of Europe), and he and his team made field trips to forests to research films like My Neighbour Totoro. A still from My Neighbor Totoro, a 1988 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Miyazaki. Photo: Studio Ghibli The storyline of Spirited Away is a very detailed examination of the animistic nature gods of Japan, although the film can be enjoyed without any knowledge of them. In contrast, Castle in the Sky, which features a mining town, was inspired by a trip to Wales during the miners’ strike in Britain in the 1980s, and Howl’s Moving Castle could be set anywhere. What are Miyazaki’s films about? Miyazaki likes to tell different types of stories in his films, and he does not make sequels. But certain themes appear again and again. Environmentalism, and humankind’s relationship with nature, are themes that are ever-present in his work. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind examines humankind’s propensity to destroy the environment, and looks at how nature cleanses itself from our destructive tendencies. Princess Mononoke explores the conflict between human progress and nature, revolving around an ironworking town in the centre of the forest. Miyazaki, who used to help clean his local rivers, has a complex view of our relationship with the natural world, which manifests itself in his films. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984) examines humankind’s tendency to destroy the environment. Photo: Studio Ghibli Miyazaki tends to focus on female heroines, and his work has a feminist angle. Miyazaki says he likes to create female characters because he does not want his films to reflect only his own experiences. Heroines like the eco-warrior Nausicaa, and the wolf-child San and equivocal Lady Eboshi from Princess Mononoke, are powerful women in control of their own fates, and the destinies of whole cities and countries. Nausicaa’s self-sacrifice gives her a Joan of Arc-like quality, although Miyazaki has always regretted the religious overtones that crept into the film. Spirited Away and the cheerful Kiki’s Delivery Service are coming-of-age stories about young girls. The strange Ponyo features a girl fish who simply will not stop trying to become a human girl so that she can be with the boy she likes. Militarism comes up often, most noticeably in Howl’s Moving Castle, which is set during a war, and Nausicaa, which features the military invasion of a peaceful country. Miyazaki is ashamed of the Japanese imperialism of the 20th century, and is highly critical of the mindset behind it. He has said that such imperialism is not representative of all of Japan’s history, and says he tries to look beyond it. The Wind Rises (2013) shows how benevolent technology can be hijacked by the military for murderous purposes. Photo: Studio Ghibli His view of the pointlessness of war was also a result of the late-20th century conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, which he says affected him deeply. The Wind Rises shows how benevolent technology – in this case, planes – can be hijacked by the military for murderous purposes. Flying is an activity which Miyazaki loves to animate, and it is a big theme of his films. Miyazaki’s father designed planes, and Ghibli shares its name with an Italian aircraft manufacturer. Miyazaki likes the connection between creative design and engineering that goes into aeroplane design, and thinks it is similar to the process of making animated films. The Wind Rises is about an aeroplane designer. The way he animates his films Miyazaki’s approach to animation is based on Japanese anime, but is uniquely his own. Each of his films looks different, and each uses a unique colour scheme and library of shapes. Like most animators, he is interested in conveying movement, and his acute observational powers – like a painter, he studies the world – have made him the envy of his contemporaries. His skill at depicting human movement has played a big part in his success. Miyazaki does not favour 3D animation styles like many animators. Japanese anime is characterised by a flat, 2D, hand-drawn look, and Miyazaki has always been a staunch proponent of traditional – and laborious – hand-drawn techniques. In Princess Mononoke (1997), computer animation was used for the first time to enhance some scenes. Photo: Studio Ghibli But since Princess Mononoke, Studio Ghibli has used computer animation to enhance some scenes. The studio developed a special programme with an outside company that gives computer animation a hand-drawn look. It is only used to create scenes that could not be drawn by hand, such as the transformation of the great Boar God in Princess Mononoke into a demon. Miyazaki does not simplify his films for children. In fact, his stories and plots are often complicated, and sometimes even esoteric. Instead of writing the scripts and then adding the animation later – the modern Hollywood way – he focuses on the visual storyboards and then constructs the stories around the images he creates. Miyazaki’s focus on visual storytelling has allowed his imagination free reign. What are his key films? Miyazaki directs and writes his own films, which are sometimes adaptations of books. Animation is a laborious process, so he has no time to be involved in the Ghibli films he is not writing or directing, such as his son Goro’s debut Tales of Earthsea. A still from Castle in the Sky (1986), which was retitled Laputa: Castle in the Sky for re-release in the UK and Australia. Photo: Studio Ghibli He has never made a bad film. The Castle of Cagliostoro, his debut, features conventional animation but the car chases are innovative. The eco-fable Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is his first masterpiece, setting his visual style and his recurrent themes. Castle in the Sky, about a technological paradise, saw him hone his skills and tell a story that was as grounded as it was phantasmagorical. My Neighbour Totoro, about a giant forest beast and two children with a sick mother, remains his best loved movie. The barest of storylines is full of emotion and deep observations on childhood, while the characters – especially the much-praised Cat Bus – show Miyazaki working at the height of his powers. Kiki’s Delivery Service again has a modest storyline, about a slightly older girl’s journey into adulthood, that allows his fascination with flight full reign. Porco Rosso – which features a pig fighter-plane ace – is a deep and thoughtful meditation on war. The epic Princess Mononoke is a multilayered look at the conflict between industrialisation and nature, while Spirited Away focuses on a child’s first experience of loss and independence. Ponyo (2008) is a bizarre children’s tale about a fish that wants to become a human. Photo: Studio Ghibli Howl’s Moving Castle features incredible aerial animation, monsters, and a strong anti-war message, as well as notes on growing old. Ponyo, aimed at younger children, is a bizarre tale about a fish that wants to become a human. The Wind Rises is a story about the wonders of flight and the dangers of militarisation. This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Storied career of a legendary animator West By East By West: The Influence of Akira Kurosawa on the West and Vice Versa Through his influences and achievements, Kurosawa became one of the first true international filmmakers, inspiring several generations of filmmakers who would explore notions of genre and identity in film. Throughout its history, Japan has always championed its culture above outside influence. It grudgingly accepted missionaries in the 16th century only because they could provide ships, goods, gold, and guns. In the 1860s, the nation reluctantly opened its ports to international trade when the United States’ Commodore Perry showcased his fleet’s military force. Cinematically, early Japanese filmmakers, due to government involvement, crafted a style of their own based on Noh theater, patient minimalism, and quiet introspection that was clearly distinct from a Western film of the same period. Akira Kurosawa, however, was not content to continue this isolated protocol. In post-WWII Japan, at a time when his homeland was being occupied by the United States, Kurosawa chose to look toward and embrace certain Western ideologies of filmmaking. He used Shakespeare and American pulp novels as source material and embraced Hollywood narrative styles and filmmaking techniques. Combining these elements with his own training in the Japanese studio system, Kurosawa was one of the early purveyors of a truly international style, a refined alchemy of filmmaking that was embraced by both West and East. Whereas contemporary Japanese filmmakers such as Ozu and Mizoguchi tended to focus on strictly Japanese elements with a nuanced, patient style that did not find Western audiences for many years, Kurosawa’s body of work was easily relatable across many cultures. Beginning with Rashomon, Kurosawa’s work introduced audiences worldwide to Japanese filmmakers and contemporary Japanese culture. A lifelong student of dramatic work worldwide, Kurosawa was heavily influenced by authors from Dostoyevsky to Shakespeare. In films such as Throne of Blood and Ran he reinterpreted Macbeth and King Lear as tales of war and political intrigue in feudal Japan. The nature of many of Shakespeare’s tragic characters fit well into the no-nonsense code of the samurai, many of who were likely to encounter downfalls because of their own violent ambitions and the scheming of their colleagues. Shakespeare used a modernized version of history to better relate these stories to his audiences and the political and social realms that they inhabited; Kurosawa did the same for contemporary Japan, blending in elements of Japanese Noh theater to reinterpret the English plays for his audience. Much of the makeup and hairstyles used in these renditions recall the emotive masks used in Noh, often indicating the true nature of a character attempting to hide behind false words. Throne of Blood Many of Kurosawa’s other works, while not directly based on the Bard’s plays, still contain Shakespearean elements. The inclusion of comedic characters, like the fool, in serious dramas is prevalent in both men’s work. These characters would often serve to relate story and setting elements to the audience, as well as provide moments of levity to offset the often time dire nature of the dramas. Comedic elements were present in some dramatic Hollywood works of the time, but few directors could find a proper balance between lightheartedness and menace, their works often running the risk of becoming hokey or cheesy. In adventures such as The Seven Samurai and The Hidden Fortress, comedic characters form an integral (if sometimes annoying) part of the ensemble. In later years, this balance of comedy and drama would become essential to the Hollywood blockbuster machine. From war films such as The Dirty Dozen to mob movies such as Goodfellas to literature adaptation such as Lord of the Rings — not to mention the works of Altman, Spielberg, and Tarantino — Hollywood directors have played with the motley ensemble, honing the Shakespearean formula to balance levity and gravity. The concept of balancing comedy with tragedy has been around for centuries in Western literature and theater — but Kurosawa was among the first to execute it so deftly on film, a feat that would be adopted by generations of directors after him and so drive the course of Western filmmaking. The Hidden Fortress, in particular, exemplifies Shakespeare’s influence on Kurosawa, as well as serving as one of Kurosawa’s most influential films. It may not be a straightforward Shakespearean adaptation, but it contains several elements Kurosawa derived from Shakespeare that became staples of his oeuvre, such as using common citizens to relate an aristocratic morality tale entertainingly. In turn, this type of film became prototypical of the modern Hollywood adventure film. The Hidden Fortress presents itself as a historical tale, relating the story of deposed Princess Yuki, her loyal General Makabe, and their quest to get the princess and her stockpile of gold to safety. Its moral and historical nature is familiar to Shakespeare’s own — fictionalized characters encounter actual historical events, allowing the author to critique social mores such as greed (material and political), loyalty (to one’s beliefs and friends), class, and the role of women. Kurosawa even revisits some Shakespearean imagery in the forest in which the protagonists become entangled, demonstrating the frequently confusing nature of man’s purpose. The Hidden Fortress It is the use of the fools, however, that draws the greatest line of influence. The film opens with two peasants, Tahei and Matakishi, arguing in the desert. Their dialogue sets up the story’s setting, and throughout the film, their greed and bickering serve as elements of comic relief to offset the deathly serious nature of Toshiro Mifune’s Makabe. Many of these opening shots, particularly when the couple’s backbiting leads to a brief parting, are reminiscent of R2D2 and C3PO’s initial moments on the planet Tatooine in George Lucas’ space opera Star Wars. The story is initially interpreted through the lowliest characters and then expanded upon as the ensemble grows. Lucas has acknowledged the influence of Kurosawa’s film on his own: the imperiled Princesses Yuki and Leia; Makabe as Obi-Wan (or Han Solo), protecting the princess on her journey; General Tadokoro is Darth Vader. The similarities in the garb, lifestyles, and philosophy between samurai and Jedi are notable, as are filmmaking techniques and props like the frame wipes, which are similar in both films, and the use of swords — whether lightsaber or katana — as the primary weapon. Shakespeare, Kurosawa, and even Lucas used their melodramas as historical critiques. Julius Caesar, focusing on the death of a ruler and the questions of leadership and civil war that arose after, reflected the questions hanging over the head of British citizens during the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, while both Hidden Fortress and Star Wars involve the questioning of leadership in times of crisis. In Hidden Fortress, Kurosawa also critiques the loyal-to-the-death nature of the samurai code, with Makabe protecting the princess while his family is forced to die. Like some of the more prominent Shakespearean fools, the lower-class characters prove to be more than they initially appear; their greediness merely a result of desperation caused by the not-so-noble ruling class that constitutes the work’s protagonists. The Jedi follow a similar code of conduct to the samurai, but the formers’ ragtag appearance in the earlier films helps them seem nobler against the SS-like Imperial fleet. This tradition of combining moral and social critiques with crowd-pleasing entertainment is familiar to today’s Hollywood audience and traces its roots back as far as Greek morality plays and Biblical parables. To us, Hidden Fortress, beyond its Star Wars similarities, is a prototypical Hollywood adventure: a no-nonsense hero; a spunky heroine; their greedy comedic sidekicks; a journey composed of a series of increasingly difficult undertakings. Along the way, they meet some friends and enemies, and though things may get tough, our heroes pull through. The cinematography shows a series of beautiful vistas, and the soundtrack’s strings and woodwinds serve to underscore the action and intensify the dramatic — if not operatic — effect. In the end and they have gained some invaluable treasure, and the audience goes home happy. Seem familiar? Ask Indiana Jones. The Criterion Collection Home The Rashomon Effect By Stephen Prince When Akira Kurosawa made Rashomon (1950), he was a forty-year-old director working near the beginning of a career that would last fifty years, produce some of the greatest films ever made, and exert a tremendous and lasting influence on filmmaking throughout the world. Rashomon emerged from the journeyman period in his career after he temporarily left Toho, the studio where he’d begun and where he would ultimately make most of his films. During these years, 1949 to 1951, he made movies for Shochiku, Shintoho, and Daiei. Daiei was somewhat reluctant to fund Rashomon, finding the project to be too unconventional and fearing that it would be difficult for audiences to understand. Those fears proved to be groundless—the picture was one of Daiei’s best moneymakers in 1950. But the film is unconventional, even radical in design, and these attributes only helped to skyrocket it to international fame at a time when art cinema was emerging as a powerful force on the film circuit. With great reluctance, Daiei permitted the film to be submitted for overseas festival competition. Winning first prize at the prestigious Venice Film Festival in 1951, Rashomon announced Kurosawa’s talents, and the treasures of Japanese cinema, to the world at large. The rest, as they say, is history. Like most of Kurosawa’s films, Rashomon, based on two stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, is set during a time of social crisis—in this case, the eleventh century in Japan, a period that Kurosawa uses to reveal the extremities of human behavior. As the picture opens, three characters seek shelter from a driving rainstorm (it never sprinklesin a Kurosawa film!) beneath the ruined Rashomon gate that guards the southern entrance to the imperial capital city of Kyoto. As they wait for the storm to pass, the priest (Minoru Chiaki), the woodcutter (Takashi Shimura), and the commoner (Kichijiro Ueda) discuss a recent and scandalous crime—a noblewoman (Machiko Kyo) was raped in the forest, her samurai husband (Masayuki Mori) killed by either murder or suicide, and a thief named Tajomaru (Toshiro Mifune) arrested. When Rashomon played in Venice and then went into international distribution, it stunned audiences. No one had ever seen a film quite like this one. For one thing, its daring, nonlinear approach to narrative shows the details of the crime as they are related, through the flashbacks of those involved. Kurosawa gives us four versions of the same series of events, through the eyes of the woodcutter, the thief, the woman, and the spirit of the husband, each retelling markedly different from the others. Kurosawa’s visionary approach would have enormous cinematic and cultural influence. He bequeathed to world cinema and television a striking narrative device—countless movies and television shows have remade Rashomon by incorporating the contradictory flashbacks of unreliable narrators. But Rashomon is that rare film that has transcended its own status as film, influencing not just the moving image but the culture at large. Its very name has entered the common parlance to symbolize general notions about the relativity of truth and the unreliability, the inevitable subjectivity, of memory. In the legal realm, for example, lawyers and judges commonly speak of “the Rashomon effect” when firsthand witnesses confront them with contradictory testimony. Furthermore, the film’s nonlinear narrative marked it as a decisively modernist work, and as a part of the burgeoning world art cinema that was transforming the medium in the 1950s. With Rashomon and his subsequent movies, Kurosawa came to rank among the leading international figures of that cinema, in the company of Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Satyajit Ray. Like their work, Rashomon was more than just commercial entertainment. It was a film of ideas, made by a serious artist, and with a sophisticated aesthetic design. “Style for Kurosawa is not an empty flourish. The bravura designs of his films are always carefully motivated.” For it wasn’t only the film’s modernist narrative that impressed audiences and made it a classic. It was also the tremendous visual skill and power that Kurosawa brought to the screen. Like all his best works, Rashomon is a remarkably sensual film. Nobody has ever filmed forests like Kurosawa. Shooting directly into the sun to make the camera lens flare, probing the filaments of shadows in trees and glades, rendering dense thickets as poetic metaphors for the laws of desire and karma that entrap human beings, and, above all, executing hypnotic camera movements across the uneven forest floor, Kurosawa created in Rashomon the most flamboyant and insistently visual film that anyone had seen in decades. All of the critics who reviewed this picture when it first appeared felt compelled to remark upon the beauty of the director’s imagery. In Rashomon, Kurosawa was consciously attempting to recover and re-create the aesthetic glory of silent filmmaking. Thus, the cinematography (by the brilliant Kazuo Miyagawa) and editing are incredibly vital, and many passages are composed as silent sequences of pure film, in which the imagery, ambient sound, and Fumio Hayasaka’s score carry the action. One of the best such sequences is the long series of moving camera shots that follow the woodcutter into the forest, before he finds the evidence of the crime. These shots, in Kurosawa’s words, lead the viewer “into a world where the human heart loses its way.” Only Kurosawa at his boldest would create such a kinesthetic sequence, in which movement itself—of the camera, the character, and the forest’s foliage—becomes the very point and subject of the scene. Mesmeric, exciting, fluid, and graceful, these are among the greatest moving camera shots in the history of cinema. Style for Kurosawa is not an empty flourish. The bravura designs of his films are always carefully motivated—this is why he is a great filmmaker. As in all of his outstanding films, in Rashomon Kurosawa is responding to his world as an artist and moralist. The Second World War had devastated Japan. In its aftermath, he embarked— with moral urgency and great artistic ambition—on a series of films (No Regrets for Our Youth, 1946; Drunken Angel, 1948; Stray Dog, 1949) that illuminated the despair and confusion of the period and offered narratives of personal heroism as models for social recovery, seeking, in his art, to produce a legacy of hope for a ruined nation. The heroism and desire for restoration that these stories embodied, however, had to struggle with a dark opposite. What if the world could not be changed because people themselves are weak and easily corrupted? Kurosawa’s films have a tragic dimension that is rooted in his at times pessimistic reflections on human nature, and Rashomon was the first work in which he allowed that pessimism its full expression. Haunted by the human propensity to lie and deceive, Kurosawa fashioned a tale in which the ego, duplicity, and vanity of the characters make a hell out of the world and make truth a difficult thing to find. Whose account of the crime is reliable? Whose is correct? One cannot tell—all are distorted in ways that flatter their narrators. This is truly a hellish vision—the world dissolves into nothingness as the illusions of the ego strut like shadows on a shifting landscape. Such a dark portrait was too much even for Kurosawa (at this point in his career, at least, but not in 1985, when he made Ran). Thus, at the last moment, he pulls back from the darkness he has revealed. The woodcutter decides to adopt an abandoned baby, and as he walks off with the child, the rainstorm lifts (Takashi Shimura always supplies the moral center in Kurosawa’s films of the forties and early fifties). Compassionate action transforms the world—this was Kurosawa’s heroic ideal. Is it enough, however? Each viewer of Rashomon must 9 decide whether this abrupt turnabout at the film’s end is a convincing solution to the moral and epistemological dilemmas that Kurosawa has so powerfully portrayed. But whatever one decides about the film’s conclusion, Rashomon is the real thing—a genuine classic. Its greatness is palpable and undeniable. Kurosawa’s nonlinear narrative and sensual, kinesthetic style helped to change the face of world cinema. And astonishingly, Kurosawa was still a young filmmaker—so many treasures were yet to come.
This is a Humanities class, I did not see the option below. Book: Boundless Art History by Lumen Corporation Chapters: 19-20-21 Choose a topic from Module 1, Which covers Non-Western Art that you
This is a Humanities class, I did not see the option below. Book: Boundless Art History by Lumen Corporation Chapters: 19-20-21 Choose a topic from Module 1, Which covers Non-Western Art that you
Modern humanities: Asian, Americas, Oceania, African cultures Contents Magical realism Yinka Shonibare Ai Weiwei Yayoi Kusama Hanuki Murakami Drive my car Hadiyo Miyazaki Bossa Nova Nollywood Frida kahlo rashomon What Is Magical Realism? Definition and Examples of Magical Realism in Literature, Plus 7 Magical Realism Novels You Should Read Written by the MasterClass staff Last updated: Aug 23, 2021 • 4 min read Magical realism is one of the most unique literary movements of the last century. While most commonly associated with Latin American authors, writers from all over the world have made big contributions to the genre. What Is Magical Realism? Magical realism is a genre of literature that depicts the real world as having an undercurrent of magic or fantasy. Magical realism is a part of the realism genre of fiction. Within a work of magical realism, the world is still grounded in the real world, but fantastical elements are considered normal in this world. Like fairy tales, magical realism novels and short stories blur the line between fantasy and reality. Meet One of Your New Instructors Get Started What Is the History of Magical Realism? The term “magischer realismus,” which translates to “magic realism,” was first used in 1925 by German art critic Franz Roh in his book Nach Expressionismus: Magischer Realismus (After Expressionism: Magical Realism). He used the term to describe the “Neue Sachlichkeit,” or New Objectivity, a style of painting that was popular in Germany at the time that was an alternative to the romanticism of expressionism. Roh used the term “magischer realismus” to emphasize how magical, fantastic, and strange normal objects can appear in the real world when you stop and look at them. The genre was growing in popularity in South America when Nach Expressionismus: Magischer Realismus was translated into Spanish in 1927. During a stay in Paris, French-Russian Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier was influenced by m agic realism. He further developed Roh’s concept into what he called “marvelous realism,” a distinction he felt applied to Latin America as a whole. In 1955, literary critic Angel Flores coined the term “magical realism” (as opposed to “magic realism”) in English in an essay, stating that it combines elements of magic realism and marvelous realism. He named Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges the first magical realist, based on his previously-published collection of short stories Historia Universal de la Infamia (A Universal History of Infamy). While Latin American authors made magical realism what it is today, authors had previously written stories about mundane situations with fantastical elements before magical realism was a recognized literary genre. For example, Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis—a novel with themes that today’s critics would consider to be magical realism—was published in 1915, a decade before Roh wrote about magic realism and well before the genre emerged in Latin American literature. What Are the Characteristics of Magical Realism? Every magical realism novel is different, but there are certain things they all include, such as: Realistic setting. All magical realism novels take place in a setting in this world that’s familiar to the reader. Magical elements. From talking objects to dead characters to telepathy, every magical realism story has fantastical elements that do not occur in our world. However, they’re presented as normal within the novel. Limited information. Magical realism authors deliberately leave the magic in their stories unexplained in order to normalize it as much as possible and reinforce that it is part of everyday life. Critique. Authors often use magical realism to offer an implicit critique of society, most notably politics and the elite. The genre grew in popularity in parts of the world like Latin America that were economically oppressed and exploited by Western countries. Magic realist writers used the genre to express their distaste and critique American Imperialism. Unique plot structure. Magical realism does not follow a typical narrative arc with a clear beginning, middle, and end like other literary genres. This makes for a more intense reading experience, as the reader does not know when the plot will advance or when the conflict will take place. 7 Magical Realism Novels You Should Read Read these magical realism stories for inspiration when writing your own novel or short story. They all blur the line between fantasy and reality and include magical elements that don’t exist in the real world: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967). A multi-generational story about a patriarch who dreams about a city of mirrors called Macondo then creates it according to his own perceptions. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (1981). A novel about a boy with telepathic powers because he was born at midnight the same day India became an independent country. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (1982). A multi-generational story about a woman with paranormal powers and a connection to the spirit world. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987). A novel about a former slave haunted by an abusive ghost. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (1989). A novel about a woman whose emotions are infused in her cooking, causing unintentional effects to the people she feeds. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (1994). A novel about a man searching for his missing cat, and eventually his missing wife, in a world underneath the streets of Tokyo. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (2013). A novel about a man who reflects on his past after returning to his hometown for a funeral. Whether you’re delving into magical realism as an artistic exercise or trying to get the attention of publishing houses, it’s tough to know where to begin. Award-winning author of The Sandman series Neil Gaiman has spent decades dreaming up magical worlds. In his MasterClass on the art of storytelling, Neil shares all he’s learned on how to create convincing characters and vivid fictional worlds. Realism 101: Definition and 15 Essential Classics Magical realism is a literary style that weaves threads of fantasy into a depiction of everyday life. Its heroes aren’t fairies or sorcerers, they’re ordinary people — whose lives happen to butt up against the extraordinary. It sounds simple enough: you take the mundane and make it just a little bit magical. It’s an enchanting formula first popularized by Latinx authors in the 20th century, and has since spread all over, from England to Japan. But despite magical realism’s reach, the term is surprisingly hard to nail down. You’ll hear scholars claim it’s not a genre but a sensibility, a way of looking at reality. Confused? Don’t worry. This post will help you understand exactly what is magical realism — and introduce you to 15 of its most spellbinding reads. 3 essential elements of magical realism Real-world setting First, let’s put the “real” in magical realism. Unlike fantasy, books written in this vein always take place in our world. You won’t find an alternate reality where schools for wizards are accessible by secret trains, and you can’t start out in the real world only to be whisked away to a land of enchantment. If it’s set in the past — not uncommon — you won’t encounter anything like a cabal of vampires pulling the strings behind the curtain of history. This style has something in common with urban fantasy, which also tends to infuse familiar settings with a bit of strangeness. But there are two key differences. First, the cast: urban fantasy authors love their magical creatures, populating their cities with vampires, werewolves, and faeries. But magical realism is more likely to star run-of-the-mill students, mailmen, and secretaries. Second, urban fantasy tends to systematically lay out how the magic works — letting you peek under the hood of, say, human-elf relations or the mechanics of spell-casting. But with magical realism, everything out of the ordinary just is. In sum, authors working in this mode painstakingly draw up settings rich in the textures of ordinary life. Read one of their books, and you’ll find a mirror held up to the world you know — the workaday realm of butter knives and ticket stubs. This commitment to the real world makes magical realism a powerful tool for sociopolitical critique. Indeed, many of its most renowned works grapple with serious social ills, from colonialism to fascism to slavery. Supernatural happenings — left unexplained Magical realists set their work in a world that’s recognizably ours, but there’s always something uncanny afoot. Maybe you’ll meet a telepath, or see something inexplicable happen — a baby born with feathered wings, an egg hatching a ruby, or rain falling in a star-shaped pattern on the ground. Time, in particular, tends to be fluid and nonlinear: the narration skips ahead, premonitions abound, and the dead have a tendency to stick around. The key thing is, this magic is never explained. The characters seem to take it for granted: they react to it emotionally instead of questioning how it works. And although it’s never subjected to the cold light of logic, it makes a kind of dream-like, internal sense. In the end, magical realists are awake to the strangeness of so-called “ordinary life.” It draws up a subjective picture of reality, and while its supernatural flourishes don’t match up with how the world looks, they capture how it can feel. Literary tone (and literary prestige) Magical realism makes heavy use of details to ground readers in its slightly off-kilter settings. The prose tends to be finely wrought and lyrical, carrying the flavor of poetry. With this highbrow style, it reads like the lovechild of fantasy and lit fic. But supernatural elements notwithstanding, it is — in movie terms — not genre but prestige: more Oscar-bait arthouse flick than fantasy blockbuster shimmering with SFX. Have you ever heard of the “sci-fi ghetto”? This tongue-in-cheek term refers to the dismissal of science fiction as something pulpy and unworthy of serious attention — not art, but a guilty pleasure. Fair or not, this reputation applies to fantasy novels as well. Unlike fantasy, magical realism gets to mingle with lit fic. It shares shelf space with highbrow books, the kind debated in grad school seminars, and it’s featured in its share of scholarship too. Because of this reputation for artistic seriousness, authors writing magical realism have no problem netting nominations for major literary honors, from the Man Booker to the Nobel. 15 spellbinding magical realism books With authors scattered all over the globe, magical realism is one of literature’s most diverse styles — and it’s been going strong since the mid-20th century. Maybe you’re a longtime fan looking to expand beyond the classics, or maybe you’re totally new to its charms. Either way, our list will help you find a positively enchanting read. If you’re on the fence as to which amazing fantasy book to pick up next, you can also step into our 30-second quiz below to get a personalized fantasy book recommendation