Ritual Art

From Primitive Art to Ritual Art


by Jean Loup Pivin



In problems of vocabulary (and not semiotics) that we confront, and among them the simplest, we have difficulty with the term "primitive art" and "roots art" which have nothing root (the art of prehistoric, yes) or primitive (no comment !).


We try to purpose "Ritual Arts" for Africa, European Art for Europe, etc...


An article by Michel Cressole in the newspaper Liberation title "the end of primitive art, now  says Ritual Art" resuming the magazine Revue Noire RN07, 1992.

African Mask © photo DR
African Mask © photo DR



These art forms as they say the art of blacksmithing, weaving, woodcarving ... carpentry ... are a matter of knowledge, expertise and art of making and not "art for art" that will mark a moment of our civilization. Without mentioning the history of Western art and its temporarly intersection with African ritual art, the ritual art of the world has probably sharing common spiritual values and religious founders of societies whose every act is linked to learning closer to the initiation than the formal education.


No vision of the world and making shapes without the manufacturer of sacred or functional forms is not clearly identified as that of priest, intercessor, mediator ... or just initiated.


Provided it does not make the universe of "magic", sacred forms, but in any case their done meaning that it is noticeable, is not clear at all (this is the least we can say). This "magic" being less attributed to the object itself than to the speech, the senses and the role attributed to him : hence in many non-materialistic civilization the sacred object are abandoning to replacement.




by Jean Loup Pivin, October 2009

(see the book 'Anthology in African Art, the XXth Century', the text writing by Étienne Féau, 'Territory of Forms')