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African American art is a broad term that can be used to describe the visual art of the African American community. It was influenced by many different cultural traditions, including Africa, Europe and America. Traditional African American art forms include basket weaving, ceramics and quilting for wood carving and painting. Many slaves arrived from Africa as skilled craftsmen. The earliest recorded African American artists were actually slaves working as potters, blacksmiths, cabinet makers, quilters, basket makers and silversmiths.

With the passing of the Civil War, it became more acceptable for African-American created works to be exhibited at museums, which is why artists produced constant works for this purpose. Such works mostly followed the trend of European romantic and classical traditions of landscape and portraiture. Of this time, the most popular were: Edward Mitchell Bannister, Henry Ossawa Tanner and Edmonia Lewis. But within the states of America, African American art was subject to discriminatory restrictions. However, foreign artworks received by African Americans were much better received. In Europe, especially in Paris, these artists were able to express much more freedom in experimentation and training on techniques that extended beyond traditional Western art. Freedom of speech was much more common in Paris as well as Munich and Rome to a lesser extent.

Perhaps the Harlem Renaissance was one of the most remarkable movements in African American art. Concepts of ideas of freedom and freedom that were already prevalent in many parts of the world began to seep into the artistic communities of the United States during the 1920s. Well-known artists at this time included photographer James Van Der Zee, painter Palmer Hayden, Aaron Douglas, Richmond Barthé, Archibald Motley, William H. Johnson, Sargent Johnson, Malvin Gray Johnson and Hale Woodruff.

With the advent of African American art and postmodernism in the mid to late 1980s, earlier definitions of African American art would be replaced by postmodernist concepts of cultural relativity, art as performance, critical investigations of art and society through one's work and interrogation of identity, geography and history. .