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Every artist’s work unless he be a hermit, creating solely for his own satisfaction and with on 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 ingenuous assumption, current in many writing on the subject, that the carver’s hand is so closely controlled by the custom of centuries that the credit 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 truth in this view of the tribal 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 a 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

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