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There is considerable variation in the way the human body is represented in African art. There are hundreds of sculptured styles, in part, based on the tradition of a particular ethnic group or of an entire region. However, some general similarities are apparent in the way Africans approach human form in sculpture: a frontal orientation, a rigidity of posture without a shift of body weight, a formality of posture without casual gestures, and an idealization of the human form, particularly the face, without blemishes or wrinkles. These broad similarities contrast with much European art, which often has been naturalistic and illusionistic while African art generally has been abstract and symbolic.
Alice Page Converse; presented to the IMA (1929).