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Tribal art is the visual arts and material culture of indigenous peoples. Also known as Ethnographic art, or, controversially, Primitive Art, tribal arts have historically been collected by Western anthropologists, private collectors, and museums, particularly ethnographic and natural history museums. The term "primitive" is criticized as being Eurocentric and pejorative.
In museum collections, tribal art has three primary categories.
- African art, especially arts of Sub-Saharan Africa
- Art of the Americas
- Oceanic art, originating notably from Australia, Melanesia, New Zealand, and Polynesia)
Collection of tribal arts has been historically been inspired by the Western myth of the "noble savage", and lack of cultural context has been a challenge with the Western mainstream public's perception of tribal arts. In the 19th century, non-western art was not seen by mainstream Western art professional as being as art at all. The art world perception of tribal arts is becoming less paternalistic, as indigenous and non-indigenous advocates have struggled for more objective scholarship of tribal art. Before Post-Modernism emerged in the 1960s, art critics approached tribal arts from a purely formalist approach, that is, responding only to the visual elements of the work and disregarding historical context, symbolism, or the artist's intention.
Influence on Modernism 
Major exhibitions of tribal arts in the late 19th through mid-20th centuries exposed the Western art world to non-Western art. Major exhibitions included the Museum of Modern Art's 1935 Africa Negro Art and 1941 Indian Art of the United States. Exposure to tribal arts provide inspiration to many modern artists, notably Expressionists, Cubists, and Surrealists, notably Surrealist Max Ernst. Cubist painter, Pablo Picasso stated that "primitive sculpture has never been surpassed."
See also 
- Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association
- Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979
- Australian aboriginal art
- Folk art
- John Young Museum of Art, Honolulu, including a tribal art gallery
- List of indigenous peoples
- Musée du quai Branly in Paris
- Museum of Primitive Art
- Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
- Old media
- The Tribal Eye, a 1975 British television David Attenborough documentary
- Tales in terracotta: Set up in 1990, the Sanskriti Museum has contextualised and documented terracotta from all parts of the country, Indian Express, 15 May 2005.
- Dutton, Denis, Tribal Art. In Michael Kelly (editor), Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
- Perkins and Morphy 132
- Folk and Tribal Art, Cultural Heritage, Know India.
- Russel, James S. "Glass Cube Dazzles at Boston MFA’s $345 Million Wing: Review." Bloomberg. 21 Nov 2010. Retrieved 11 Jan 2011.
- Perkins and Morphy 136
- Storr, Robert. "Global Culture and the American Cosmos." Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts: Arts, Culture and Society. 1995. (retrieved 15 Nov 2011)
- Perkins and Morphy 133
- Perkins and Morphy 134
- Morphy, Howard and Morgan Perkins, eds. The Anthropology of Art: A Reader. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2006. ISBN 978-1-4051-0562-0.
Further reading 
- Edmund Snow Carpenter, The Tribal Terror of Self-Awareness. In Paul Hockings (editor), Principles of Visual Anthropology, 1975, pages 451–461.
- Dennis Dutton, Tribal Art and Artefact. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 51(1):13–21, Winter 1993.
- Dennis Dutton, Mythologies of Tribal Art. African Arts, 28(3):32–43, Summer 1995.
- Herbert E. Roese, "African Wood Carvings - the sculptural art of West Africa", 2011, Cardiff ISBN 978-0-9560294-2-3