International Journal of Art & Design Education

On Not Liking What One Sees: Anthropology and the Visual Arts

Volume 5.1   1986



The arrival of multicultural thinking in the visual arts, particularly that informed by anthropology is to be welcomed. There are however both positive and negative consequences arising from this. It is for example difficult to see how anthropology can be applied; more importantly, there are issues associated with the anthropological model, such as its association with imperialism and racism. Nevertheless, anthropological and ethnographic approaches to the study and appreciation of art have a lot to offer. In studying another culture, we need to obtain knowledge about it through its artefacts and their context as well as knowledge about that context and how our reading of it is shaped. Intercultural understanding can be facilitated through inspecting the logic of how the world we see is constructed and through examining our perceptions of power and role relationships.