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Defining Non-Western Art

From music, dance and paintings to abstract art our perception of life are exposed through the most varied ways in which we see and interpret it. This perception is often shown in very different ways and can be identified by numerous characteristics. One of such characteristics is the notion of Western and non-Western art. What can be said about these two art classifications, and the differences and similarities between them? Generally speaking, non-Western art can be related to the art of all the nations and cultures which cannot be referred to as European culture and its derivations.

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Scientists have a very hot polemic concerning the definition of terms such as Western art, non-Western art, the art of preindustrial societies, art of traditional societies and suchlike. They argue that it is very difficult to specify the differences and boundaries between the above mentioned notions just as it is difficult to give adequate and suitable definition for them. As for my vision of this matter, I would define non-Western art as art that is based on the categories and world perception of any cultures, different from European and European-related ones such as Asian, African, Arabian and Latin American. The only problem is that not all of these regions can be actually referred to as non-Western ones geographically; thus, the term loses its basic meaning.

Western and non-Western art represent very different ways of world perception; thus, the differences between them are numerous. First of all, these differences are evident in the way the human body and its shape are depicted. Whereas Western artists and sculptors showed the human body openly with every detail including the most intimate ones, the artisans of non-Western art were more abstract in this area. The most moderate from them are the representatives of Islamic art whose religious beliefs cause their modest approach to a showing of body image in its the most basic occurrences tending to add no details especially intimate-related ones. Similar approaches can be traced back to Asian art where people are shown covered with clothing from their faces to their toes. The situation is somehow different in African and Latin American art which shows the human body rather openly just like European artisans, but still in a very different light. Secondly, the very evident differences are in architecture buildings. The representatives of non-Western concepts resorted to the use of very different shapes and structures with precedence of rounded and oval forms. Thirdly, most non-Western artisans never made a strict distinction between arts and crafts. Thus, their works are mainly lacking the basic notions of art in themselves, and seem to be somehow primitive. One way or another, It is obvious that Western and non-Western art has a lot in common. I believe this can be explained by cultural interferences which were caused historically by numerous political, economical and other reasons.

Concluding on the information which has been related above, it should be stated that the difference between Western and non-Western art is rather an abstract notion as there are still no standards established in this area and scientists keep on arguing about it. Generally speaking, the term non-Western art can be referred to any other art conception which represents other types of culture rather than the Western one. Finally, the differences between Western and non-Western art are mainly related to different world perceptions in western and non-western cultures; for example, in such areas as a depiction of body image.

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StudyCorgi. "Defining Non-Western Art." December 13, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Defining Non-Western Art." December 13, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Defining Non-Western Art'. 13 December.

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