Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy” as Want to Read:
Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy

4.34 of 5 stars 4.34  ·  rating details  ·  178 ratings  ·  9 reviews
This book reveals how five distinct African civilizations have shaped the specific cultures of their New World descendants.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
ebook, 336 pages
Published May 26th 2010 by Vintage (first published 1983)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Flash of the Spirit, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Flash of the Spirit

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 441)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I was just watching a documentary on Jean-Michel Basquiat and he mentions this book as one of his favorites, and I remembered using for some research. The author Robert Thompson is even featured prominently in the documentary and had the best commentary of all the art talking heads. Great, Great book. I don't think I read it from front to back, but I would like to own this book so that I can.
I just watched the documentary "Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child" and he mentions this book as being one of the best books he's ever read. This is a really stellar book and I have yet to see anyone approach the topic of African/Afro-American Art in the same way since.
Fighting to combat racist notions, Thompson centers the book on documenting a proud and ancient heritage of the Africans and African-Americans. Thompson goes into extreme detail on the differences between art in Africa and the Americas. Examples of the similarity range in places from Cuba, Haiti, Brazil to Yoruba and Benin. Elaborating on the spiritual, Thompson sketches a picture of the complex approximation of Haitian vodun to the religion of Kongo, Dahomey and Yorubaland. Magnificently drawin ...more
Thompson walks a thin line in trying to make complex cultural practices understandable for outsiders without oversimplifying. And he succeeds: his study is enlightening, though at times his scholarly precision turns cumbersome (mostly in chapter five). I would have given it five stars if the images were in color--some are so dark I can barely tell what they are. Color is so crucial in the artistic traditions discussed in this book; the publisher should have sprung for a few color pages.
Kevin Cooney
Very helpful book that illuminates the sources for the Black Atlantic component of American art. I first learned about the book from an interview with Basquiat. Usually, when you read about him he is compared to established European and American painters, but the book shows the resilience of west African visual patterns and symbols in vernacular culture.
Mar 18, 2008 Daniel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Daniel by: good ol' roger noel from chicago!
perked interest ritual, sacrifice, "pantheism," and nonwestern religious practices ... and noneastern religious practices, for that matter. this book's intersection with artmaking was highly influential for me... and still has been, after all these years...
This defined the new way of perceiving African Art and it is time I got around to reading it cover to cover.
Diane Dunham
has really good photos of artifacts
Donkey Hotei
Donkey Hotei marked it as to-read
Apr 27, 2015
Tim Houston
Tim Houston marked it as to-read
Apr 09, 2015
Michael Kay
Michael Kay marked it as to-read
Apr 09, 2015
John marked it as to-read
Apr 06, 2015
Chike marked it as to-read
Apr 05, 2015
Alastair Kemp
Alastair Kemp marked it as to-read
Mar 31, 2015
Julian Boyance
Julian Boyance marked it as to-read
Mar 29, 2015
Billy marked it as to-read
Mar 25, 2015
Amos marked it as to-read
Mar 16, 2015
Monica T.
Monica T. marked it as to-read
Mar 10, 2015
Rita marked it as to-read
Mar 04, 2015
Mildred Stokes
Mildred Stokes marked it as to-read
Mar 01, 2015
Boima Tucker
Boima Tucker marked it as to-read
Feb 26, 2015
SunnyD marked it as to-read
Feb 25, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 14 15 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti
  • Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society)
  • Jambalaya: The Natural Woman's Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals
  • In The Break: The Aesthetics Of The Black Radical Tradition
  • The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe: Myths and Cult Images, New and Updated Edition
  • Kali: The Feminine Force
  • Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica
  • The Once and Future Goddess
  • The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual: A Historical Analysis of the Failure of Black Leadership
  • The White Man's Burden: Historical Origins of Racism in the United States
  • Shakkai: Women of the Sacred Garden
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of Prehistoric Europe
  • Ghostly Matters: Haunting And The Sociological Imagination
  • Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman
  • Psychic Self-Defense
  • Notebook of a Return to the Native Land
  • The Spirit of a Man: A Vision of Transformation for Black Men and the Women Who Love Them
  • The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image
Robert Farris Thompson is a professor of the Art History at Yale University. He specializes in African and African-American art.
More about Robert Farris Thompson...
Tango: The Art History of Love Face of the Gods: Art and Altars of Africa and the African Americas African Art in Motion The Four Moments of the Sun: Kongo Art in Two Worlds Aesthetic of the Cool: Afro-Atlantic Art and Music

Share This Book