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

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  185 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)
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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
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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...
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