Bourgogne Tribal Show 2017

By Artkhade with Gus Adler & Filles

Besanceuil, 14 March 2017


Jean-François Schmitt is an art-lover and collector. He is a Friend of the musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac and a member of the Cercle Lévi-Strauss.

Anthony Meyer is a dealer, author, and specialist in Pacific and Eskimo ancient arts and traditional cultures. He manages the Meyer Gallery of Oceanic Arts in Paris and is one of the founders of the Bourgogne Tribal Show, along with Laurent Dodier, Bruno Frey, Jacques Lebrat and Bruno Mory.

For its second event, the Bourgogne Tribal Show will take place from 25th to 28th May, 2017. You both took part in the fair’s first event, one as a dealer, one as a collector. Could you share your experiences with us?

Jean-François Schmitt: My abiding memory of the first event is what a pleasure it was to see tribal art in less conventional settings. The atmosphere was very different from the other fairs, far more casual and convivial.


Its location in the Burgundy region was ideal too, as it gave the opportunity to spend several days exploring the cultural heritage of the surrounding area, the Romanesque churches, the vineyards.

I also found the Bourgogne Tribal Show presented a very interesting cultural offering, not dissimilar from what I’m used to. Since I live in Paris, I have easy access to quite a range of tribal-art.

For those attending this this kind of event for the first time, the fair was certainly an exciting experience. Some of the visitors were quite new to tribal art, but the Show gave them the opportunity to discover new things. Who knows, maybe the fair has inspired some new callings!

At any rate, this is what the event is all about: it attracts new clientele and gets new people involved. Incidentally, I had invited a group of friends to see the Show and visit the region. We visited Jean Girel, a very talented ceramicist, and talked to him about the Bourgogne Tribal Show.

He hadn’t heard of the fair, but he went to see it and left with an object under his arm. I think this event has been very positive because it has created so many connections between people, and sparked some new interests.

Anthony Meyer: As a Parisian used to the Saint-Germain-des-Prés or the Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac Museum’s sphere of dealers and collectors - the Bourgogne Tribal Show was a really refreshing cultural experience: the dealers share open spaces, there’s a relaxed atmosphere that lends itself to exchange and discussion. It’s a far cry from the pressured surroundings of the big events in Paris, Brussels, Maastricht or London.

And this was quite consciously done. The fair was carefully planned and put together, in Burgundy, to do away with what we might call the Parisian wall. The founding dealers all wanted to find a way to shake things up.

As Jean-François mentioned, in addition to the collectors and specialists arriving from Paris, London or Brussels, we found a new audience. There were people who didn’t know anything about the event they were about to attend, or about tribal art as a whole. We ended up with far more visitors than we expected!

That success is a sign that we managed to intrigue the newcomers as much as the enthusiasts, the collectors and the dealers. The first Bourgogne Tribal Show truly was a unifying event, and aroused a great deal of curiosity.


Why is this fair important for dealers and collectors? How does the Bourgogne Tribal Show fit into the international fairs circuit?

J-F. S.: This fair is different because of its location, and innovative because its mission is to stimulate interest in tribal arts outside of Paris. The Bourgogne Tribal Show is also determined to remain accessible to those who know little or nothing about extra-European arts and civilisations.

It’s not in a usual location at all for a tribal-art fair, in that sense it is quite off the beaten track, but it is in a very culturally rich region. The fact that the fair takes place place in Burgundy is quite historically interesting because this region has always been a crossroads.

All the European cultures met there, that’s what gave the region, the kingdom, its identity and its wealth. There is something quite universal about Burgundy, and that is somehow perpetuated through this tribal-art fair.

A. M.: We chose this location, Besanceuil, because we knew Bruno Mory – who has been kind enough to welcomes us on his land – but also because Burgundy is a collectors’ breeding ground. Indeed, for over thirty years – probably even more – there has been a remarkable clientele developing in this region.

Our fellow dealers outside Paris are doing a fantastic job, but they’re thin on the ground. The clientele outside Paris probably also has much less access to museums, galleries and exhibitions.

In this respect the Bourgogne Tribal Show complements other international fairs, because it is not an umpteenth fair in a city that already has a huge amount to offer culturally. Its innovative because it has managed to create a new centre of interest in France, outside the big cities.

You can see this innovation in the selection of exhibiting dealers, based on know-how, knowledge and passion; rather than the perceived prestige of the galleries on the market. What’s more, the Show offers up-and-coming dealers the opportunity to work alongside more experienced sellers.

The dealers collaborate in groups of two or three, allowing them, whether they’re from Paris or anywhere in the world, to come together and work in an enjoyable environment. Collaboration then becomes more important than competition.

J-F. S.: One of the consequences of the fair’s policy of openness – to a new audience as well as more exclusive galleries – is that we are able to offer a wide range of prices. Of course, the collectors interested in rare and valuable pieces are also welcome, but the fair hopes to offer first-time buyers in tribal art, objects that are interesting, authentic and affordable.

This is the truly unique aspect of this fair, and it’s a very positive feeling to be involved with it. The point is not to organise a summit of experts who know everything and have seen it all. This fair aims to be open to everyone.

A. M.: The only ambition of this fair is to be open to all while ensuring a guaranteed level of quality. Everyone can find something that suits them, whatever their taste or their means.


Can you tell us what surprises are in store for the second event?

A. M.: The Bourgogne Tribal Show 2017 will incorporate quite a few changes.

The list of exhibitors is getting longer; it remains very international. New dealers will be joining us, like David Serra or Jonathan Hope; up-and-coming dealers like Charles-Wesley Hourdé will be joining us for the first time; Patrice Brémond will also be making an important addition to our dealers from France’s regions.

Another change will be the arrival of a so-called classic Asian art, thanks to the much appreciated contributions of Jean-Christophe Charbonnier, a specialist in Japanese arts and armours. Also, Michael Woerner, who is interested in Southern Asian arts and, amongst them, the archaic Khmer art. So the fair is pushing the usual tribal-art boundaries, and really entering a new phase in its development.

We will also be highlighting the importance of our partners. Visitors can discover the diverse array of actors and trades involved in the tribal-arts world: our wonderful insurers, APPIA, Artkhade, the Friends of Lyon’s African Museum, the pedestals maker Romain Laforêt, the restorer Serge Dubuc and many others. Julien Guillot and Bruno Goyard, new winemakers will also offer the visitors the opportunity to taste their wares.

**Gus Adler & Filles – the event’s organisers – have proposed a second exhibition in the Farinier of Cluny Abbey. This year they will welcome a selection of tribal artworks on the theme of Childhood. What do you think about this integration of extra-European arts and civilisations in this centre of cultural heritage? **

J-F. S.: I thought the exhibition last year was remarkable. There was real harmony between the Romanesque art of the capitals inside the Farinier, and the exhibited tribal pieces. There was a coherence there that broke boundaries. The Farinier is a magical exhibiting space within the Abbey and I can’t wait to go back and discover the next tribal artworks display.

A. M.: For my part, I was impressed by the number of people who came to the Farinier, and by the excellent feedback I received. This exhibition helped the Bourgogne Tribal Show forge strong ties with Cluny Abbey, creating special links between tribal art and cultural heritage. In 2017, the exhibition’s title will be Childhood, and will hopefully offer a similar opportunity to unite many visitors around these artworks from far away lands.


Finally, what would you like to tell Bourgogne Tribal Show’s future visitors?

J-F. S.: Come and and be surprised! Even if tribal art is something entirely new to you, it is open to discovery at the Bourgogne Tribal Show. I would also recommend making the most of the occasion to explore the region and its treasures.

A. M.: I’d like to add: come as you are, with an open mind! Take the time to discover the fair and soak up the sociable atmosphere. The Bourgogne Tribal Show is a place to meet up: with dealers, with collectors and with other visitors. And come and appreciate what Bruno Mory, our host, has been working on for the last 25 years, creating a remarkable and magical exhibition space for contemporary and modern arts.

Maëlle Conan

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Tags: African Art, Asian Art, Oceanic Art, Native American Art, Aboriginal Art, Pre-Columbian Art, Fairs & Shows, Exhibitions, Interviews