Every artist's work, unless he be a hermit, creating solely for his own satisfact...
Every artist’s work, unless he be a hermit, creating solely for his own satisfaction and with no need of sales, is to some extent “socially conditioned” he depends upon the approval of his patrons. Social conditioning is of course part of the field of study of the social anthropologist, yet I am not aware that the social conditioning of artists has ever been seriously studied. That such study is needed for the proper appraisal of traditional African art is evident enough when we note the igneous assumption, current in many writings on the subject, that the curve’s hand is so closely controlled by the custom of centuries that the credits for any creative imagination which is apparent in his work is due not to him but to the long succession of his predecessors.
Of course, there is an element of must in this view of the tribal artist as copyist, but it is hardly more valid for the Africa than for the European artist. In both cases the work of art is the outcome of dialectic between the informing tradition and the individual genius of the artist and in both the relative strength of these two forces may vary almost infinitely. To assess the personal ingredient in an African carving is no easy matter, especially if one is confronted with a rare or unique piece in an unfamiliar style; but the considerations involved are much the same as those employed in European art criticism.
A social anthropologist is someone who
A) Studies only social conditioning.
B) Studies social conditioning and other things.
C) Studies the origins of man.
D) Is interested in art and artists.
E) Is interested in the community.
The correct answer is B.
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