Artists influenced by non-Western art

African art

Pablo Picasso – Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907 at New York Museum of Modern Art

Picasso – Les demoiselles d’Avignon.
‘African (or black) period’. Inspired by African statues at Trocadero museum (or possibly by statue shown to him by Matisse). Angular poses, bold colours, figures have features in style and poses similar to African masks.

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs

Matisse – Blue nudes (1952) inspired by his collection of African sculptures

Max Ernst – The Feast of the Gods – 1948 (above)
Bold use of colour, geometric, angular shapes, features reminiscent of African tribal masks.

Middle Eastern/Iranian art

Timo Nasseri – Unknown letters 1-4

Inspired by Ibn Muqla’s search for 4 letters believed to be missing from the Arabic alphabet. Muqla was punished for defiling the Arabic language used for the Quran. Nasseri took his inspiration from the constellations, retro-engineering the position of the stars in 934ad, the time Muqla was the official state calligrapher.

Muqarna – carvings made above Persian doors

Nasseri – inspired by Muqarna, geometry, maths and engineering

It’s always night, or we wouldn’t need light (Ibn Muqla) (2015). Courtesy Faisal Tannir


Native American art

Jackson Pollock – Guardians of the Secret (1943)

Pollock did not acknowledge imitation of Native American art but influence based on life experience. Saw Native American art at MoMA (1941). Pollock maintained he witnessed NA rituals as a child. Art historians later argued rituals important in stylistic development. Sought out NA art and studied NA ethnology.