The Auctions Database of Ancient Arts from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.
New York, 8 May 2019
No less than 115 works of African and Oceanic art will be on display at the Bonhams auction in New York on May 13, starting at 5pm.
“This careful and rigorous selection comes from several private American collections, but also from Europe and the Pacific region,” says Fred Backlar, US-based primitive arts specialist and consultant for the British auction house.
Among several major pieces presented in the African art selection, a reliquary figure from Kota-Ndassa, established in eastern Gabon, is of particular interest. 51 centimetres high, this statuette was originally obtained by a school for pastors and teachers in Kimpese, Congo, and has been written about as early as 1940. The lot (#99) is estimated at between $250,000 and $350,000.
A pair of Dogon or Tellem statuettes (lot 78), originating from Mali and dating from the 19th century or earlier and exhibited by Philippe Guimiot in Brussels in 1994, shares the same high estimate. A magnificent maternity Bangwa figure, from Cameroon (lot #97), initially [.../...]See more
New York, 8 May 2019
Exhibited in New York since 2nd May, nearly 90 works of Pacific art from Harry A. Franklin’s collection will be auctioned at Sotheby’s on 13 May as part of the spring session organised by the American auction house.
A pioneer in the trade of arts from Africa and Oceania after a initial career in textiles, Harry A. Franklin established himself as a reference in the 1950s and 1960s and “converted” many collectors on the west coast of the United States to his cause. His gallery, located in Beverly Hills, was a privileged meeting place for anthropologists, art lovers, great travellers, politicians and film stars, such as Jacques Lipchitz, Nelson Rockefeller, John Huston, Frank Sinatra and Paul Newman.
After the death of the Californian merchant in 1983 (at age 79), a first auction, organised at Sotheby’s on the initiative of his daughter, Valérie Franklin-Nordin, made the headlines in April 1990, thanks in particular to the record sale, for $3.4 million, of a statue of Cameroon, known as “Queen Bangwa” [.../...]See more
Paris, 7 May 2019
Opened in 1990 at 8 rue des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Flak Gallery has become one of the major Parisian players in the field of tribal art since the early 2000s. The latest exhibition, dedicated to navigator and long-distance discoverer James Cook, highlights the gallery’s expertise through their aesthetical and historical choices.
Edith and Roland Flak, the gallery’s founders and modern art collectors turned naturally to African art, more precisely Dogon, as their collection grew. A first exhibition in the late 90’s of “ere ibeji” twin figures which are associated with the Yoruba culture, now mainly found in Nigeria –, foreshadowed the direction of the family gallery.
“When you’re interested in modern art, it is hard to miss African art,” says Julien Flak, who joined his parents in 2002, after a career in advertising. Under his influence, primitive arts quickly took a prominent place in the gallery, eventually occupying both exhibition spaces entirely.
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Saint-Pol-de-Léon, 17 April 2019
I got to know you on twitter, at the time you were posting intensively objects from the Quai Branly Museum database, curating your own virtual exhibition, mostly with unknown objects from the reserves. Your virtual exhibition ‘Early Côte d'Ivoire’ was even acclaimed by an impromptu tweet from the NY Times’ Chief art critic Roberta Smith...
And I had the time of my life that day... It was also great to interact with a very diverse audience, from museum curators to artists or people just curious to learn. Many young collectors have a very active phase of discovery and intense learning. Going through the 300.000 objects of the Quai Branly Museum database has been the way to express mine.
How did you get that passion for Tribal art?
15 years ago I visited some colleagues, a Belgian and a French, in Dakar. They were buying African art like crazy. Of course, these were copies... but at least I had a spark for the African aesthetics and my treasure hunter sense was unlocked. Fortunately I had a [.../...]See more
Brussels, 21 January 2019
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 [.../...]See more
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, 29 November 2018
Saturday 12 December, Sotheby's is organising two exceptional sales of African and Oceanic art to conclude the tribal year in style. From 3pm onwards, many lots from the anonymous collection of “Monsieur Z” will be dispersed. The session will be divided into three essential parts, illustrating the life and career of this discreet collector.
Since the end of the Second World War, Z has been involved in the avant-garde artistic circles that have emerged in the Brussels region. He works with the members of the CoBrA group: Pierre Alechinsky, Christian Dotremont, Karel Appel or Asger Jorn. He acquires remarkable works directly from these artists over the years. Through its choices and affinities, the Z collection perfectly illustrates the spirit of the group, as Christian Dotremont reminds us: “art must have roots”. A thought common to Z, which at the same time enriches its collection of tribal artworks (Africa and Oceania). As Corneille, a member of the CoBrA group, points out, “African art [...] is a primary art [...] which has not yet [.../...]See more
Vienna, 28 November 2018
On Tuesday 4 December there will be a remarkable tribal art session at Dorotheum in Vienna. To mark the end of the year, the auctions will be held in line with the theme of the four elements (Earth, Fire, Ether, Water). No less than 130 objects from several private collections will be scattered under the gaze of amateurs from all over the world. 85 of them are from the Franco Monti collection, one of the leading figures in the history of tribal art in the 20th century.
Born in Milan in 1931, Franco Monti became involved in sculpture in the 1950s. He developed a formal vocabulary of raw and bold lines, using clay and stone as the medium. Collectivity quickly caught up with him, and he soon attended the scholarly circles of the French school of anthropology. It is in this context that he made his first trips to sub-Saharan Africa. He acquires treasures from the contact with local cultures. Back in Europe, he organised exhibitions of African art, particularly in Italy. He works with the famous creators Giacometti, Marini, Fontana, Chirico, but also [.../...]See more
Paris, 28 November 2018
Notice to lovers of tribal objects! Binoche & Giquello will meet you at Hôtel Drouot on Friday 14 December at 3.30 pm for an exceptional sale of African and Oceanic art. To conclude the year in style, works from prestigious European and American collections will be on display.
The star lot of the sale is undoubtedly the splendid female bust (ancestor figure of Byeri), originating from the group Ntumu (Fang of Gabon). Undated, this statuette has an invoice attesting to its great age (early 19th century). Imbued with a feminine grace, it bears witness to the subtlety and spirituality of Fang art. The head is typical of the sculptural Ntumu way, displaying a hollow face with a “Fang” pout. Perched on a trunk, such an object watched over the bones of the ancestors and served as a mediator between the dead and the living. This treasure worthy of the collections of the greatest museums is estimated at 1 to 1.5 million euros. “This object is unique”, says Patrick Caput, the sales specialist. “There are perhaps 1,000 Fang statues in the [.../...]See more
New York, 15 October 2018
On Tuesday 13 November 2018, there will be a sale of African, oceanic and pre-Columbian art at Bonhams in New York. At least 103 quality objects will be on display to the public.
“This sale marks the return of African and Oceanic art to New York”, said Fred Backlar, tribal art specialist at Bonhams. “The sector had been somewhat down since 2014 in the market.”
Several remarkable lots are to be remembered. An exceptional Kota reliquary from Gabon will first be proposed (300,000 to 500,000 dollars). This one was taken in by Dr Paul Aubert at the beginning of the 20th century. It was presented in 2017 at the Los Angeles County Museum, during the exhibition "The Inner Eye: Vision and Transcendence in African Arts". A Dogon female figure from Mali will also be on sale ($100,000 to $150,000). This one belonged to the poet Tristan Tzara, the dadaist cantor. Finally, there is a rare Polynesian avimorph headrest ($60,000 to $90,000). This one probably originates from the Tikopia or Anuta Islands.
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