Tribal return to Native

By Artkhade

Brussels, 21 January 2019

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For lovers of tribal art, modern art and design, the famous Native Auction House is holding an exceptional auction on 26 January. In its Brussels premises, which experts consider one of the European temples of the African and Oceania art market, Native will present, on that day, among the main prizes, many treasures from the personal collection of German historian Helmut Zake.


Helmut Zake, former Director of Foreign Student Services and International Relations at the University of Heidelberg, acquired his first African works in the 1960s. Both charismatic and friends of famous merchants – such as Walter Kaiser – he founded the Heidelberg Gesprächskreis von Sammlern und Ethnologen, a discussion society more commonly known as the Zake Circle, which brought together ethnography lovers and African art collectors from all over Germany but also from Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands. “Through this circle”, says Nicolas Paszukiewicz, co-leader of Native, “Helmut Zake focused on defining the aesthetic canons that appealed to his peers. He was someone who was firmly committed to the authenticity and artistic quality of the works.”

/Ashanti Doll, Ghana, 28,5 cm, Provenance: Helmut Zake, Heidelberg, estim. : EUR 2,000 to 3,000

Two requirements on which the German historian has never compromised. It enabled him to acquire numerous objects and sculptures of great rarity over the course of his life. Above all, masks and statuettes “essentially dating from the end of the 19th century”, Nicolas Paszukiewicz points out, and whose African origins are multiple, since this sale will take us from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Mozambique, from Mali to Gabon. Helmut Zacke also had a thing for sacred objects from Nigeria, as evidenced by the presence of a “three-dimensional” headdress mask of the Idoma culture, with colourful and demonstrative features (from €8,000 to €10,000).


/ Idoma Headdress, Nigeria, 24 cm, Provenance: Helmut Zake, Heidelberg, estim. : EUR 8,000 to 10,000

The session will continue with pieces acquired in the 1970s by René and Odette Delenne. The heirs of this Belgian couple – many of whose acquisitions are now on display at the Congolese Museum in Cleveland – will offer for sale around ten pieces from African tribal art and Aboriginal peoples, such as this superb nephrite Hei-Tiki (Maori spiritual pendant) created in the 18th century (from €6,000 to €8,000).


Other lots will be worth the trip: an extraordinary Fang Eyema Bieri figurine, estimated at €40,000, a Gwandara figure identified by Pierre Amrouche (€22,000 to €30,000), a Congolese Chokwe stool (€8.000) and Mangbetu boxes (€20.000), made of bark and wood, not to mention an exceptional war club made of Toa wood on the Marquesas Islands between the 18th and 19th centuries. Another remarkable prize, a Mano mask from Côte d'Ivoire will be offered from €16,000.


/Mano Mask, Côte d'Ivoire, 21 cm, Provenance: L. and P. Guerre, Marseille, estim. : EUR 12,000 to 15,000

Successfully playing the diversity card for two years now, Native Auction House will also offer during this sale some modern art paintings (Pierre Dmitrienko, Marthe Very, Walter Leblanc, etc.), old photographs, jewellery and furniture. Thus gathered, fans will be able to find some beautiful pieces by Marcel-Louis Baugniet, Fernand Petit, Willy Van der Meeren or Gustave Serrurier-Bovy. It should also be noted that they will have the opportunity to acquire a rare and long chair from the Italian designer Gio Ponti (Distex, 1953), with a geometric design and sold with its footrest (from €15,000 to €20,000).


With 137 objects, this auction will take place on 26 January, from 11am to 4pm, at the Ruysbroeck Gallery (Native), in Brussels.

Tags: African Art, Oceanic Art, Art Market