The Auctions Database of Ancient Arts from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.
Geneva, 18 January 2019
The Musée Barbier-Mueller in Geneva is presenting until 26 May 2019 a special exhibition focused on its collection of asen, portable metal altars from the former kingdom of Dahomey, in what is now the Republic of Benin.
Asen are characterized by a circular tray adorned with iron pendants on its perimeter and decorated with figurative scenes of humans, animals and plants alluding to the honoured dead and to southern Benin’s history. The tray rests on a shaft planted in the ground of the asenxo (asen house) where the family’s deceased are commemorated and evoked in annual ceremonies. In front of the asen, the living meet the dead, speak to them and question them, and offer them propitiatory sacrifices.
In local tradition, asen were also closely identified with healing rites, protection and divination, as well as the transfer of knowledge from the spirit world to the earthly world in Vodun temples and other settings. Between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, as the Dahomey court grew in power, this function shifted towards a more [.../...]See more
Paris, 20 September 2018
In 1768, the Royal Society commissioned navigator James Cook, captain of the famous three-masted Endeavour, to explore the Pacific Ocean in search of terra incognita.
During his voyage, he discovered numerous island civilisations covering nearly one-third of the planet’s surface – from Tahiti in Polynesia to the Melanesian and Micronesian archipelagos. He also met indigenous peoples, in sometimes tense atmospheres due to spears thrown in response to muskets.
But at the same time, 250 years later, the Royal Academy has decided to honour this initial contact with other cultures by organising and producing a large-scale exhibition on the Oceanic arts. The show is on the same lines as other big monographic events at this British institution. Bear in mind that since the 1990s, the Royal Academy has staged exhibitions that delve into the cultural productions of great civilisations – “The Art of a Continent” (1995), “Aztecs” (2002), “Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years” (2005), “China: The Three Emperors, 1662-1795” (2005), [.../...]See more
Geneva, 15 May 2018
As the number-four exhibition of the MEG since the Swiss museum’s reopening, “Africa – Ecstatic Religions” draws up a portrait of the diversity and vivacity of African religious forms, their differences and reciprocal influences, but also their links: ecstasy as a means to experience one’s faith.
“Belief, ritual and spiritual experience: these are the cornerstones of religion, and the greatest of them is the last.” Boris Wastiau chose to quote Ioan Myrddin Lewis’ Ecstatic Religion (1971) to define the focuses of his exhibition, “Africa – Ecstatic Religions”. Perhaps he could also have borrowed the words of Mircea Eliade, who wrote an essay in 1964 (“La quête des origines de la religion”, published in La Nostalgie des Origines, also in 1971): “We know that we can only seize hold of the sacred through manifestations that are always historically conditioned. But the study of these manifestations doesn’t tell us what the sacred is, nor what a religious experience truly means.” Divided into four sections that cover [.../...]See more
Moulins, 30 March 2018
Until 16 September 2018, the Musée Anne de Beaujeu in the French town of Moulins is holding the exhibition “Trajectoires Kanak – Histoires de voyages en Nouvelle-Calédonie” (“Kanak Trajectories – Stories on Voyages to New Caledonia”).
The event gathers numerous objects, rarely presented to the public, from the Musée Anne de Beaujeu’s collection of items from outside Europe. The latter grew from works picked up by colonists, missionaries, adventurers or scientists in the second half of the 19th century.
The works on display reveal the wealth of Kanak culture in every area (society, nature, war, religion). As a former French colony, New Caledonia was at the heart of one of the last waves of world exploration. While making their way through the exhibition, visitors can become acquainted with the era’s emblematic figures including Léon Moncelon, a colonist from the Allier region in France, Pierre Poyti, of mixed Kanak and French heritage who grew up in France, and Poindi-Patchili, a Kanak chief who belonged to a clan that [.../...]See more
Geneva, 23 September 2017
The MEG is dedicating an exhibition to the diversity and wealth of Australia’s arts. “L’Effet boomerang. Les arts aborigènes d’Australie”, thus offers insight into the colonisation of this country, from a political and aesthetic perspective.
It was in 1770 that British explorer James Cook, acting as a representative of King George III, became the first Westerner to set foot on the Terra incognita, today known as Australia. Even if the land was already populated, the explorer still dubbed this territory as Terra nullius – “no man’s land”, an expression that says a great deal about the way indigenous people were long considered as a primitive society.
However, the “material culture” developed by Australia’s 270 or so ethnicities over the 60,000 years in which they had inhabited the territory would whet the interest of Western travellers. Many European goods were exchanged for local fetishes, sometimes painlessly, for the Aborigines had the means to reproduce these artefacts easily.
It was during this period that [.../...]See more
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, [.../...]See more
Geneva, 9 December 2016
Until 8 January 2017, the Musée d’Ethnographie de Genève is playing host to “Amazonia, The Shaman and the Mind of the Forest”. An ethnographic exhibition that can also be described as… a political act.
Amazonia remains a poor relative in the world of art exhibitions and ethnography. Preference goes to Pre-Columbian art, Mayan, Aztec or Incan cultures — all far more likely to get crowds through the doors. In recent years, exhibitions in Europe on Amazonia can be counted on the fingers of one hand — the British Museum in 2001, the Mona Bismarck Foundation in 2002 or the Grand Palais in 2005, to name the most important ones. “I want to stir things up, heuristically speaking,” exclaims Boris Wastiau, director of the Musée d’Ethnographie de Genève (MEG) and curator of the exhibition. “Amazonia, The Shaman and the Mind of the Forest” sets out to get things moving and offer reparation for an injustice.
What will we find at this exhibition in Geneva? An introduction to the region, which blends voices from the present day to those [.../...]See more
Paris, 7 January 2016
In 1990, the American professor Joseph Nye developed, in his book Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power, the idea of “soft power”. Used in the field of international relations, this concept describes the ability of a political actor to influence indirectly – by means of structural, cultural or ideological – and without coercion, the behaviour of other actors.
Twenty-five years later, Gail Dexter Lord -co-founder and co-president of Lord Cultural Resources– and Ngaire Blankenberg – senior consultant at Lord Cultural Resources -proposed an update of the concept of soft power, by operating in particular a displacement of its scope (Cities, Museums and Soft Power, The AAM Press, 2015). Art Media Agency met Gail Dexter Lord for more information.
Soft power means the will and ability to influence people and cause behaviour through peaceful and cultural means. It is opposed to hard power, more coercive.
Today, we think that it is [.../...]See more
Oostende, 15 December 2015
Mu.ZEE, in Oostende, has collaborated with the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, both in Belgium, to present “European Ghosts”, until 3 January 2016.
“European Ghosts” examines the Western perception of African art in the twentieth century by exploring documents, texts and, particularly, the first photographs and publications of objects and masks from Africa. More than 45 works have been selected from the collection of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren. The museums based their decisions on early reproductions, descriptions and observations made by photographers, writers and ethnographers, as well as upon previous exhibitions about African art.
The exhibition also examines various presentation models and methods of design; from the ‘universal exhibition’ in Brussels in 1897 to the present day. Patrick Wokmeni has photographed masks and objects from the Tervuren collection for European Ghosts. Curator Phillip Van den Bossche, and visual artist Koenraad Dedobbeleer, say [.../...]See more
Paris 25 June 2015
Hélène Bayou, chief curator of the Japanese department at the Musée Guimet in Paris, France, recently put together an exhibition entitled “Japan, Images of Actors: 18th-Century Kabuki Prints”, which has been running from 15 April until 6 July this year, organised in parallel with a similar exhibition at the same museum: “From Nô to Mata Hari, 2000 years of Asian theatre”, which is running until 31 August 2015. Art Media Agency had the pleasure of talking to the fascinating and knowledgeable curator.
How did you come up with the idea to put on the current exhibition of Kabuki prints? Two years ago, together with the director president of the Musée Guimet Sophie Makariou, we came up with a project for the Japanese prints kept at the Musée Guimet that the Japanese section could carry out. We have quite a rich collection of about 5,000 prints dating from the Edo to the Meiji period by both renowned and lesser-known artists, embodying the entire [.../...]See more