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
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
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
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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Paris, 11 October 2018
On Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 4pm, an exceptional tribal art sale will take place at Christie's in Paris. This one will bring together objects from Africa, Oceania and America. The session will open with 30 masterpieces from the Adolphe Stoclet collection (1871-1949). This Belgian banker and industrialist is famous for having entrusted the architect Josef Hoffmann with the construction of the Palais Stoclet (Brussels).
This private residence is emblematic of the avant-garde role played by the Viennese Workshop (Wiener Werkstätte) at the beginning of the 20th century. It was decorated by several renowned artists such as Gustav Klimt or Fernand Khnopff. Stoclet made his house a “complete work of art” by exhibiting objects of all styles and periods. He gave tribal art an essential place, arranging the thirty works for sale in his “African Salon”. Stoclet also owned objects from America, Asia, Greece or Italy… He was an important customer of art dealer Joseph Brummer (1883-1947).
Among the objects in the collection are several Congolese [.../...]See more
Paris, 17 September 2018
Handovers to the next generation, a rise in the number of objects on sale, the creation of events on the market, a change in the way players behave... 2017 was a good year for arts hailing from outside Europe, but it looks like it might have been a transition period.
For around twenty years now, both auction figures and observations made by dealers and experts have attested to a healthy growing tribal-art market, which tends to be stable in its practices. In auction rooms, 2017 confirmed these sound results with a return to growth after two fairly flat years. Achieving a turnover of a little over €80 million, this is the second-best year in the history of the market (which includes classical African, Oceanian, pre-Colombian and North American arts) following an exuberant2014. This year, Sotheby’s sold the Frum and Myron Kunin collections, which together accounted for sales totalling €45.5 million. A hefty enough figure to tip the scales... “The market is doing very well,” enthuses Laurent Dodier, a French dealer and valuer from [.../...]See more
Paris, 15 March 2018
On Monday 9 April and Tuesday 10 April 2018, Christie’s Paris is holding two sales starring tribal art from Africa, America and Oceania.
On Monday 9 April, 149 Pre-Columbian art objects from Ilya and Marina Prigogine’s collection will go on sale. A Belgian physicist and chemist of Russian origins, Ilya Prigogine won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1977. He started collecting tribal art in 1960s with his wife, and filled out the collection towards the end of his life.
African, American and Oceanic pieces will be on offer, but the highlight will be the exceptional lot featuring Mexican sculptures. The latter are a unique testimony to Olmec culture and the Chontal and Mezcala tribes that lived in the mountainous regions of Guerrero.
Little remains known about the lives of these peoples, but most of the objects at the sale probably held a ritual function. The sale’s climax will be a set of anthropomorphic figurines dated between 300 and 100 B.C. A talk introducing the collection will also be given on 5 April 2018 by Alex Arthur (Tribal [.../...]See more
Paris, 15 September 2017
They’re the ones who murmur into the ears of collectors. Gallerists play a crucial role in the tribal-art economy. For this special issue, a number of them, each with their own specialities, have agreed to share their feelings on the sector. Confidences.
At auctions, the eclectic nature of the tribal-art market indicates sure growth in the long term, both in terms of the number of lots placed on sale and their proceeds, even if the last three years have seen heavy fluctuations, if not a slight decline. However, by overshadowing the reality of the world of dealers, auction results are only a partial indicator of the health of a sector characterised by deep restructuring. Between a generational shift among collectors, sourcing difficulties, and a complex balance between auction houses and dealers, what does the future hold?
Collectors: a new generation takes the reins? In the eyes of Alain Lecomte from the gallery Abla & Alain Lecomte, specialised in ancient African arts, there’s no doubt about it: the sector is in for a shakeup: “The [.../...]See more