Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Benin Mask is Withdrawn from Sotheby's Auction After Online Protest

A rare £4.5 million West African ivory mask, believed to have been looted by the British during a 19th century invasion of Benin (in present-day Nigeria), was withdrawn from a Sotheby's sale slated for February. The withdrawal was in response to online protests regarding claims of cultural patrimony and demands for repatriation. 

The mask, one of the last great masterpieces of Benin sculpture remaining in private hands, is believed to have been worn by the "Oba" or king of Benin on ceremonial occasions. It depicts the head of the queen mother of the Edo peoples and has a refined and untouched surface, which has been well treated with palm oil. 

The protests were organized and led by the Nigeria Liberty Forum (NLF), an activist group of Nigerians and friends of Nigeria. The group describes themselves as "UK-based Nigerian pro-democracy group." The protests began last week on social networking sites and an online petition circulated by the group. Local government officials in Nigeria have publicly condemned the sale and criticized the current owners. 

"It is a shame that in this time and age individuals continue to plunder and abuse the culture and heritage of a defenseless people just because they can," NLF's letter to Sotheby's stated. "To this end we request that you withdraw the items from the sale forthwith as the true ownership is far from settled. We would also like to request that you go a step further and advise your clients to return these items back to the Nigerian people where they rightfully belong."

The mask was one of several items to be sold at Sotheby's in London by the descendants of Lt. Col. Sir Henry Gallwey, a vice consul of a British protectorate in Nigeria who took part in the 1897 invasion of Benin when the British deposed the king and burned and looted the city. They auctioned off much of the objects to pay for the offensive. Several pieces, including a mask similar to the one withdrawn from Sotheby's auction, were ultimately placed in the British Museum. 

Sotheby's official statement:

“The Benin Ivory Pendant Mask and other items consigned by the descendants of  Lionel Galway which Sotheby’s had announced for auction in February 2011 have been withdrawn from sale at the request of the consignors.” 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rare, Newly Re-Discovered African Art Masterpiece to be sold at Sotheby's London in February 2011

On February 17 2011, Sotheby's will sell a rare, newly re-discovered, 16th century ivory pendant mask depicting the head of the Queen mother from the Edo peoples, Kingdom of Benin in Nigeria along with five other rare works from Benin collected at the same time. 

Only four other historical ivory pendant masks with related iconography of this age and quality are known – all of which are housed in major museums around the world. All of the ivory masks are widely recognized for the quality of their craftsmanship, for the enormous scale of Benin’s artistic achievement and for their importance in the field of African art. Produced for the Oba (or King) of Benin, these ivory pendant masks are testament to the Kingdom of Benin’s golden age when the kingdom flourished economically, politically and artistically. 

The masks rank among the most iconic works of art to have been created in Africa. The mask to be sold at Sotheby’s in February is estimated at £3.5-4.5* million. It had been on public view in 1947 as part of a loan exhibition at the Berkeley Galleries in London entitled ‘Ancient Benin’, and then again in 1951 in ‘Traditional Sculpture from the Colonies’ at the Arts Gallery of the Imperial Institute in London. 

The mask and the five other Benin objects will be sold by the descendants of Lieutenant Colonel Sir Henry Lionel Gallwey (in 1913 he changed his name to Galway) who was appointed deputy commissioner and vice-consul in the newly established Oil Rivers Protectorate (later the Niger Coast Protectorate) in 1891. He remained in Nigeria until 1902 and participated in the British Government’s “Punitive Expedition” of 1897 against Benin City. The faces of the five known pendant masks have been interpreted widely by scholars of Benin art as that of Idia, the first Queen Mother of Benin. 

The mother of the Oba Esigie (c. 1504 – 1550), Idia was granted the title of Iyoba (Queen Mother) by Esigie in recognition of her help and counsel during his military campaigns. Idia remains a celebrated figure in Benin, known as the ‘only woman who went to war’. The masks were created at least in part as objects of veneration. The worn and honey-coloured surface of the offered mask attests to years of rubbing with palm oil, and surface as well as the style of carving is most similar to the example in The Seattle Art Museum. 

The mask comes to auction together with: a highly important carved tusk made with a group of other similarly carved tusks for the altar of an Oba who lived in the 18th century. The imagery presented depicts emblems of power and strength which are related to the life of the Oba himself. The iconography is specific, and can be seen repeated across many arts forms in Benin, including the well-documented bronze plaques. The collection also includes two richly carved ivory armlets which incorporate many of the panoply of motifs used by the artists of the Igbesanmwan, the Royal Guild of ivory carvers. 

As with most ivory carvings, these were more than likely made for an Oba, as he would have had complete control over the production of works of art made from precious ivory. Also in the collection is a rare bronze armlet, cast with Portuguese figures in an openwork motif. The earliest appearance of the Portuguese in plaques and free-standing figures and bracelets in the 16th and 17th century was undoubtedly calculated by the Benin to add considerable prestige to the Oba and his courts demonstrating that his power extended beyond the confines of his own people. 

Finally, the collection includes a very rare bronze sculpture of a type historically identified as tusk stands. The twisted and hollowed form of this stand suggests it served the same function as the more familiar bronze commemorative heads, as a stand for a carved ivory tusk on an altar created to honour a former ruler. 

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium


Monday, December 20, 2010

"Art of Central Africa" at Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore

Congo River: Arts of Central Africa
is now on display at the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore. Known as the 'river that swallows all rivers," the Congo today links the nations of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Gabon. Drawing from the Musee du quai Branly and other European collections of African art, Congo River: Arts of Central Africa is the first exhibit of its kind to be held in Southeast Asia. 

Central Africa is home to various Bantu-speaking peoples with a shared past. The artistic heritage of this region has often been studied as the art of disparate groups of unrelated cultures. These cultures are nevertheless linked by themes that stretch across a region that is 5,000 times the size of Singapore. Themes include heart-shaped masks, reliquary figures for ancestor veneration and female representations. 

The exhibition links diverse cultures as well three modern nations, whose rich artistic traditions are explored. The show features beautifully crafted sculptures, masks and ancestor figures, and highlights their importance in ceremonies, rituals, and dances. The visual power of these objects have long impressed collectors and artists, and the exhibition also displays works by Pablo Picasso, who in the early 20th century was strongly influence by African art as he developed his modernist style. 

A full range of programs for families, adults and students will be held in conjunction with the exhibition. 

Source: Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Acquisitions at Jacaranda Tribal!

Jacaranda Tribal is now featuring our newest acquisitions on the gallery website. The new objects are a remarkable survey of artworks that have been produced in the southern region of Africa. Highlights from the selection include a rare and early zebra shield made by the Shangaan peoples of South Africa. The thirty-eight inch high shield is made of zebra hide, which is found on east African shields but rarely seen further south.

Also featured are a variety of South African pipes, which range from beautifully beaded Xhosa pipes to a rare Xhosa wood pipe with figurative lead onlay ornamentation. An exquisite 19th century Zulu horn pipe features elegant carving in the classic amasumpa decoration.

Vessels include a small wooden bowl which depicts three ducks in the various stages of diving below the water surface. The bowl was most likely used for food storage by members of the Lozi tribe of Zambia. A lidded South Sotho pot is an extraordinary example of the elegant wood and pokerwork craftsmanship of the Lesotho carvers.

Visit to view all of the new acquisitions.

Photo: Rare 19th Century Zebra Hide Shield, Shangaan, South Africa

South Sotho Pot with Lid - Lesotho
Xhosa Wood Pipe with Lead Onlay - South Africa
Zulu Horn Pipe - South Africa

Monday, December 13, 2010

"African Artistry in Iron and Clay" at The Birmingham Museum of Art

A new exhibition at the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama features approximately fifty-five works of African ceramics and iron art, including vessels, musical instruments, currency objects, sculpted figures, staffs, tools and ritual objects. The objects come primarily from the countries of Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Iron and clay are extremely important materials and media in West African culture. They are valued not only for their practical use in the fabrication of essential tools, weapons, currency, and vessels, but also for their spiritual potency. Objects made of iron and clay play important roles in rites of passage, healing rituals, divinations, governance, religious practice, and conflict mediation. Many myths and legends recount the importance of the blacksmith and the potter in African society. 

Throughout Africa, blacksmiths are generally born into their occupational specialty, and may only marry women from other blacksmith families. While the men smelt and forge iron, the women in their families specialize in ceramics, creating vessels for daily use and ritual objects. It is fire that transforms raw clay and iron ore into the secular and sacred objects that are essential to the well-being of African communities. This specialized occupational knowledge is jealously guarded by these men and women, who acknowledge that it was originally imparted by a divine source, usually as part of a sacred covenant. 

The ceramics in this exhibition are only loan to the Museum from The Dick Jemison Collection. Jemison, an artist who divides his time between Birmingham and the American Southwest, is interested in tribal arts around the world. The iron objects in the exhibition were given to the Museum in 2004 by Mort and Sue Fuller, of New York. 

The exhibition is on view through March 2011. 

Source: The Birmingham Museum of Art

Friday, December 10, 2010

Spirits and Headhunters: Art of the Pacific Islands at Bowers Museum

Photographer Chris Rainier guest curates this ongoing exhibition of art from the South Pacific at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California. Spanning the geographic region collectively referred to as Oceania, this comprehensive exhibition highlights masterworks from the three cultural regions of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia. Particular focus is placed on New Guinea, land of the headhunter, and the rich artistic traditions infused into daily and ritual life. 
The exhibition includes more than 150 unique pieces including larger than life masks, objects associated with the secretive Sepik River men's house, magic figures and tools of the shaman, spectacular-crafted personal adornments, weapons of warfare, stunning shell and feather currency, masterfully crafted feast bowls, and the most precious of human trophies taken in retribution and reverence. 
Melanesia, which includes the world's second largest island, New Guinea, is an island that has been explored by Bowers Museum President Peter Keller and Bowers Board Member Edwards Roski on 10 month-long expeditions over the last decade. 
"Oceania is significant for Californians since it is our neighbor and is an area where there is still much to be learned," Mr. Keller says. "This is part of our strategic plan to build a significant Oceania collection in an area of the world where we can make a difference."
This comprehensive exhibition will become a permanent exhibit at Bowers Museum. 
Source: Bowers Museum website

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

International Tribal Art Book Prize awarded on November 29th

The second annual International Tribal Art Book Prize was delivered on November 29th at Sotheby's Paris. The awards went to Congo River by Francois Neyt (Published by Fonds Mercator Branly) and Man Ray, African Art, & the Modernist Lens by Wendy A. Grossman (Published by International Arts & Artists). 

An international jury of magazine editors, tribal art scholars and collectors chose the winners based on strict criteria, including the quality of evidence presented, the interest of the topic at hand, iconography, the quality of printing, and accessibility to a wide audience. This year's candidates must have been published between October 2009 and September 2010. The prize is awarded to one French book and one English book each year. 

The books shortlisted include Teotihuacan: City of Gods, Exhibition at the Musee du Quai Branly, edited by Felipe Solis; Benin: Collection Visions of Africa by Barbara Plakensteiner; The Arts of Africa by Dr. Roslyn Adele Walker; and White Gold, Black Hands: Ivory Sculpture in Congo Vol. 1 by Marc Leo Felix et al. 
Last year's winners were Quai Branly Museum - The Collection, edited by Yves Le Fur and published by Skira Flammarion (French title) and James Cook & the Exploration of the Pacific, edited by Adrienne L. Kaeppler and Robert Fleck and published by Thames & Hudson (English title). 


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rare Luba Caryatid Stool sells for €5.4 million at Sotheby's Oceanic and African Art sale in Paris

A rare Luba Caryatid Stool from the collection of Harry Bombeeck was the top lot at Sotheby's sale of Oceanic and African Art sale in Paris, fetching fa remarkable €5.4 million. The sale totaled €8.5 million. 

The 51 centimeter-high seat is an outstanding work by the important sculptor of the royal court of the kingdom of Luba, known as the Master of Buli. This caryatid stool has been in the collection of notorious African art collector and dealer Harry Bombeeck since the late 19th century and has not been exhibited in over 65 years. The stool once served as ceremonial object most likely used by the council of elders when they presided over court cases in the Luba kingdom. 

Other top lots included a Male Figure from the Turamarubi Group of Papua New Guinea, which sold for €360,750. The figurative wood sculpture of a muscular male figure with red seed eyes was estimated to sell for € 400,000 - 600,000. A 43-centimeter high Senufo Female Figure sold for €294,750, nearly double the high estimate of €70,000 - 10,000. 

The sale of works from a private New York collection preceded the Oceanic and African Art auction, with a respectable 82% of the 49 lots finding buyers. The sale totaled €3.3 million. The auction's highlight was the Magnificent Fang Head from Gabon, which fetched €912,750. The work was offered for sale from the collection of Parisian African art dealer Paul Guillaume. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

New! Video Preview for Sotheby's African and Oceanic Sale

Video Preview for Sotheby's African and Oceanic Auction in Paris !!

Masterpieces of African art are today recognized as being amongst the world's greatest art treasures. The majority was created by anonymous artists who did not sign their work. Concerned with the question of artistic individuality among African sculptors, art historians have attempted to identify the particular characteristics of individual 'master-hands'. Join Marguerite de Sabran, Head of Department, Paris, as she shares the story of this Luba female caryatid stool by the "Master of Buli."

Watch the video

Christie's African and Oceanic Sale features works from Kahane Collection

Christie's will offer works from the legendary Swiss dealer Isidor Kahane in its African and Oceanic auction this Wednesday, December 1 in Paris. (See our preview here)

Directly following the sale of works from the Kahane Collection are 81 lots of African and Oceanic art.  Top lots include a 35 cm-high Maternity figure from the Congo, depicting a mother seated with her legs crossed, and carrying her young child in one arm. In excellent condition with a fine wood petina, the work is estimated at 60,000 to 90,000 euros.

Also of note in the Oceanic offerings is a Maori Nephrite Pendant from the collection of legendary Oceanic art merchant, William O. Oldman. The pendant is made of nephrite, a rock in the jade family indigenous to the rivers of New Zealand. It depicts the hei tiki, most likely poised (arms on thighs) to preform the ritual dance preceding the Maori War, the Haka. The 9.5 cm-high pendant is estimated to sell for 15,000 - 20,000 euros.

For more information or to request a catalog, visit

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"African Mosaic: Celebrating a Decade of Collecting" at Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

Toussaint Louverture et la vielle esclave
by Ousmane Sow, 1989
The Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art is displaying its acquisitions from the past decade in a new exhibit with a towering sculpture as its centerpiece. 

The sculpture of Haitian leader Toussaint Louverture was created by Senegalese artist Ousmane Sow in 1989 to commemorate the bicentennial of the French Revolution. Toussaint Louverture led Haiti's freedom struggle against slavery and French colonial rule. It is a life-size, heroic and fairly naturalistic mixed media sculpture that captures the global connections of African art. It was acquired last year at auction in France.

The museum is featuring more than 100 works in "African Mosaic: Celebrating a Decade of Collecting." It opened Friday, November 19th. The exhibit pays tribute to the extraordinary variety of individual works of art that have come into the museum as gifts or purchases. Together, these artworks represent 10 years of building a permanent collection that embodies the diversity and outstanding quality of Africa's arts. 

The collection of the National Museum of African Art has been formed through careful curatorial selections and the generous gifts of many individuals - from specialized art collectors and talented artists to former ambassadors, Peace Corps volunteers and missionaries. 

The exhibit includes examples of modern and contemporary African works of art - paintings, works on paper, sculpture and mixed media works by some of the continent's most recognizable artists.  It features African masks, figures, containers and jewelry, as well as a briefcase created from discarded aluminum used to make soda cans. 

The exhibit will be open through December 2011. The National Museum of African Art is located in Washington, D.C. at 950 Independence Avenue. 

Source: National Museum of African Art website

Monday, November 22, 2010

Preview: Sotheby's Paris - Oceanic and African Art Auction featuring works from an Important New York Collection

Lot 27, Magnificent Fang Head,
Gabon, 34 cm
Estimate 500,000 - 700,000 EUR
Sotheby's Paris will hold two important sales of Oceanic and African art on November 20th totaling 152 lots - "A New York Collection" (Lots 1-49) at 4 PM and "Oceanic and African Art" (Lots 50-152) at 5 PM. 

The recognition of African sculpture as art dates to the beginning of the 20th century, when a handful of men from both sides of the Atlantic brought about a decisive change in our perception these important sculptures. If it was in Paris that Modern artists discovered what was then termed "Negro Art," it was in New York, in 1935, that it was first presented as art to the general public. In 1935, African Negro Art, one of the most groundbreaking exhibitions of its time, opened at the recently founded Museum of Modern Art. James Johnson Sweeney, Director of MoMA, solicited the collaboration of the renowned Parisian dealer, Charles Ratton, in selecting the objects from both French and American collections. 

From 1935 to the present, the connections between New York and Paris have continued to link Modern and African art. The dynamic relationship between the two fields is at the core of the New York Collection up for auction. The 49 sculptures were selectively acquired in New York and Paris over the last 30 years and have lived side by side in this collection with a unique selection of Modern drawings and Indian sculptures. 

The most iconic African object in the collection is a Fang Reliquary Guardian Head from Gabon (lot 27, Estimate 500,000 - 700,000 EUR), exhibited at MoMA in 1935 and formerly in the collection of Paul Guillaume. (Guillaume was a successful modern art dealer and avid African art collector, as well as the African art advisor to important American collector Alfred Barnes.)  

Many sculptures from the collection, including the exceptionally dynamic form of the Mumuye figure (lot 33, Estimate 180,000 - 250,000 EUR), directly link to the vocabulary of Cubism and are intimately connected with the development of Modern Art movements. 

Lot 54, Exceptional Male Figure, Turamarubi Group,
Turama River, Papua New Guinea, 96 cm
Estimate 400,000 - 600,000 EUR
Following the auction "A New York Collection," is the Oceanic and African Art sale. The top lot is the "Master of the Buli" sculpture (lot 97, Estimate Upon Request) from the collection of Harry Bombeeck. Also of note is a superb Bamana figure (lot 82, Estimate 200,000 - 300,000 EUR), which dates to the 15th-16th century. It is connected with the history of one of the first West African empires, the Mali Empire, which invaded the Niger Valley and spread its rule over the Bamana kingdoms. The statue represents a 'cult mother,' her status as a woman at the root of creation underlined by the head-scarf tied in the shape of a shan hat, which was reserved for the use of high ranking priests. 

Lot 54 (Estimate 400,000 - 600,000 EUR) is one of the most outstanding examples of the art of Papua New Guinea. Dating to the 17-18th century, this commanding and masterful figure is a striking example of the unique and highly rare art of the Turamarubi people. It is part of a group of highlights from the John and Marcia Friede collection of art from Papua New Guinea. 

For more information and to request a catalog, visit

Lot 97, A Masterpiece of the "Master of Buli,"
Luba Caryatid Stooll from Harry Bombeeck, 51 cm x 30.5 cm
Estimate Upon Request
Source: Sotheby's website

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New book for Collectors! "Polynesia: The Mark and Carolyn Blackburn Collection of Polynesian Art"

A new book about the important collection of Polynesian dealers Mark and Carolyn Blackburn is now available for purchase. Titled, "Polynesia: The Mark and Carolyn Blackburn Collection of Polynesian Art," the book is an account of the Hawaiian couple's impressive Oceanic art holdings, compiled by Smithsonian curator Adrienne Kaeppler. 

Polynesian War Club Artifacts
The 448-page book profiles more than 1,000 objects from the Blackburn collection. Mark Blackburn, owner of Mauna Kea Galleries of Honolulu, began collecting nearly 40 years ago. Always fascinated with the stories of the many voyages of Captain Cook, he purchased his first artifact, a Maori hei-tiki, at a flea market in Hamburg, Germany. He has been avidly collecting ever since. 

On display in the book are sculptural pieces, paintings, photographs, bark cloth, paddles and clubs, drums, tools, bowls, weapons and more. The geographic spread of the collection is vast, covering the Pacific Ocean region from Hawaii to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) to Aotearoa (New Zealand), and the many islands in between. 

The selections in this book are drawn from the geographic and cultural areas of Polynesia. The work profiles objects from all over and features some of Blackburn's favorite items: the Maori pieces of Hawaiian sculpture. 

The book was compiled by Adrienne Kaeppler, Chief Curator of Oceanic ethnology at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and designed by award-winning Hawaiian designer Barbara Pope. Featuring 804 color illustrations, descriptions and annotations, the book makes public for the first time what is (according to Kaeppler) - "probably the best private collection of Polynesia in the world."  

Items from the Blackburn collection have been displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution, as well as a number of prominent museums and galleries around the world. 

The book is available for purchase at

Decorated kapa cloth; Hawaii.
Barkcloth, pigments, approx 1 m x 1.5 m.
Late 18th-early 19th century.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Six Works from Kahane Collection up for sale at Christie's Paris on December 1

Christie's will offer works from the collection of legendary dealer Isidor Kahane on December 1 in Paris. Though best known in the art world for his contributions in the field of Indian and Southeast Asian art, Kahane was a passionate collector of African art. These six exquisite works from his private holdings are estimated to sell for $3.1 - $3.7 million.

This important collection has been living quietly in Switzerland for the past thirty-five years. The works for sale represent a variety of fine 19th century ceremonial and ritual items from Western Africa.

The top lot is a Baga Shoulder Mask. The nearly 50 inch-high Dmba is carved from a single piece of wood. It appears to mark important occasions dealing with personal and/or communal growth, marriages, births, wakes, agrarian rites and hospitality ceremonies. Worn by a single dancer of great strength and technical skill, the shoulder mask has a hallowed domed under the chest to rest on the dancers head, with two eyeholes between the breasts. The legs are pierced at the bottom for the attachment of the raffia ring (which served as sort of girdle to keep the mask in place). Among the Baga, Dmba represents an idea of the ideal. The work is estimated to fech $1.1 - $1.6 million.

Also featured is a Fang Male Reliquary Guardian Figure. The seated figure, with muscular legs and arms holding a vessel. The work from Gabon is one of the most symbolic styles of African art. With well-balanced proportions and barrel-like chest and neck, the statute is the iconic Fang style. It is estimated to fetch $680,391 - $952,547.

Isidor Kahane began his career as a textile designer in Zurich in the 1940s. Influenced by renowned Modernist collector and fellow textile businessman, Gustave Zumsteg, he began to gather knowledge to build his own collection. Inspired by the Modernist work, Kahane looked to the purist form of their inspiration - African art.

Kahane and his wife, Elly, moved to New York City in the later 1940s, after World War II. They immersed themselves in the New York arts scene and purchased their first major work of African art in 1958.

The "Six Chefs-d'Oeuvre d'Art Africain de la Collection Kahane" sale will take place at Christie's Paris on Wednesday, December 1 at 3 pm.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Extraordinary Tribal Art from Africa up for Auction at Gray's Auctioneers & Appraisers

Hare Headdress from the Baga Sibondel peoples

A single owner sale of Tribal Art from Africa courtesy of a private New York Collector is on offer at Gray’s Auctioneers & Appraisers. The sale takes place November 18 at 1pm in Gray’s auction showrooms in Cleveland, Ohio. Simultaneous online bidding will be offered by Grays Live Bidding, together with telephone, absentee and live in-person bidding.
This magnificent collection features strikingly tall brass Oba figures from Benin (The Oba were the traditional kings of the Benin people), intricately carved, ornate headdresses from the Baga peoples of Guinea; figures, masks, carvings, stools, drums, Queen figures, maternity figures, animal figures and many more from the Yoruba, Igbo, Bamana, Songye, Mende, Dan, Lobi, Baule, Grassfields of Cameroon, Fang, Yaka, & Luba peoples to name but a few.  This auction of 361 lots delights and awes those that know and love the tribal art of Africa as well as the un-initiated.  The auction house is an explosion of color and creativity and Gray’s has opened up for two full weeks of exhibition for viewers to view the art in person from November 4 - 18.  A fully illustrated catalogue is also available online.
Notable lots include a colorful and ornately carved, box form Hare headdress with figures from the Baga Sibondel peoples; a brass standing figure of an Oba holding a staff & sword, Benin style; a 51-inch tall Brass Maternity Figure holding Children in each arm, from the Grassfields of Cameroon; a Brass Figural Throne also from the Cameroon, featuring multiple tiers of figural supports standing at 43 inches tall; and a mixed media, Bush Spirit Mask, from the Kran of Liberia.  It is an oversize mask made of wood, fiber, metal and pigment with a spiked beard, bulging eyes, metal teeth and overhanging fiber brow. Standing at 19 inches high and 14 inches wide with eyes bulging and mouth agape with teeth bared this ferocious mask is one of the principle highlights from this striking New York collection.
The complete illustrated catalog can be found on Gray’s website at or please call 215-458-7695 for additional information.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Los Angeles Asian & Tribal Arts Show - November 12-14, 2010

The Los Angeles Asian & Tribal Arts Show is set for November 13th and 14th at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. It is the show's 20th anniversary. 

The show features the most prestigious and prominent gathering of Asian and tribal galleries in Southern California, featuring internationally acclaimed gallerists that showcase authentic items from all over the globe. This year, LAATA will showcase a collection of works by adventurer and fine art photographer Mike Glad. Vanishing Cultures is a photographic exhibition documenting the exotic and remote places that Glad encountered while trekking through Yemen, the wooded monasteries of Myanmar and villages of Pakistan. 

The show is produced by the celebrated Art Show team Caskey & Lees; producers of The San Francisco Tribal & Textile Arts Show, The San Francisco Arts of Pacific Asia Show, The New York Ceramics Fair, The New York Arts of Pacific Asia Show and The Los Angeles Asian & Tribal Arts Show. 

The LAATA will open with a wine and cheese preview reception and silent auction to benefit the Fowler Museum of Cultural History's Textile council on Friday, November 12th, 2010. 

General Show Hours:
Saturday, November 13, 11 am - 7 pm
Sunday, November 14, 11 am - 5 pm

This year's exhibitors include:
MB Abram Gallery, CA
Appleby International Arts, CA
Walter Arader Himalayan Art, NY
Arts of Central Africa, FL
Bead Castle, CA
Neil Becker, NY
Breen/Graham, CA
Caracola, CA
Caravanserai, TX
Cassera, NY
Craig DeLora Tribal Art, NJ
Dennis George Crow, CA
Dimondstein Tribal Art, CA
Dragon House, CA
Ever Arts Antique Furniture, CA
Flambeaux, CA
Philip Garaway, CA
Marion Hamilton, CA
Michael Hamson Oceanic Art, CA
Hayden & Fandetta Rare Books, CA
Honeychurch Antiques, WA
Indoarts, CA
Japon Gallery, CA
Mark A. Johnson Asian & Tribal Art, CA
Oumar Keinde African Art, Senegal
Fily Keita Tribal Art, CA
Stella Krieger, CA
Lao Design, NJ
Lotus Gallery, TX
Joe Loux, CA
Galen Lowe, WA
Maestros de Taxco, CA
Kip McKesson, Tanzania
Orientations Gallery, NY
Primary Source, CA
J.R. Richards Asian Art, CA
James Stephenson, NY
Sutterfield Tribal Art, CA
Sujaro/Gallery of African Art, CA
TAD Tribal Art, NM
Vigraha Fine Art, AZ

Visit for more information and show updates. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Irma Stern painting sets sales record in London

Irma Stern's "Bahora Girl"
An Irma Stern artwork fetched 2.4 million pounds in London this morning, setting a new world record for sales of South African art at auction, Bonham's said. 

The painting, titled "Bahora Girl," was sold to a South African who was present at the auction in London, said Bonham's head of press, Julian Roup. 

Bonham's, a privately-owned British auction house, held the previous record for South African art sold at auction for a Pierneef artwork, which fetched 950,000 pounds. 

"Bahora Girl," according to Bonham's website, was an image from Stern's time in Zanzibar where she was "powerfully affected" by the beauty of the local Indian women. 

The oil-on-canvas painting dates back to 1945 - the painting was estimated to fetch between 600,000 and 900,000 pounds.  

Source: South Africa Times

California Fundraiser for the National Museum of African Art

National Museum of African Art (exterior)
Image courtesy of LA Times
Last Saturday the National Museum of African Art held a fundraiser in Santa Monica, California. The event took place at M. Hanks Gallery

The fundraising soiree was organized by the Sanaa Circle, a recently formed support group comprised primary of African-American lawyers, according to museum spokesman Eddie Burke. Their goal is to raise money and awareness for the museum. Hosts for the event included Camille Cosby (a National Museum of African Art board member and spouse of Bill Cosby) and her brother, Eric Hanks (owner of M. Hanks Gallery, a venue for African American art). Tickets to the cocktail reception were $250 per person.

Museum director Johnnetta Betsch Cole was the evening's keynote speaker. Cole became director last year after a storied career as president of two historically black women's colleges, Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C., and Spelman College in Atlanta. 

The question of why a major museum dedicated to the art of Africa and located in Washington, D.C. needs to solicit funds from California raises concerns for many. Spokesman Burke says the party was not just for funds but to raise nationwide awareness. 

The African art museum is competing with the National Postal Museum to avoid last place in attendance among the Smithsonian's museums on the National Mall. In 2009 it drew 403,000 visitors and the postal museum had 349,000; this year, through September 30, the African art museum had tallied 229,000 visitors and the postal museum 259,000. Last year, according to Smithsonian budget documents, the African art museum had a budget of about $6 million, with $905,000 of that raised from donors. 

Two major Los Angeles museums collect and display African art -- the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Fowler Museum at UCLA. However, officials at those museums do not feel encroached upon by African art museum events in the area. They understand that the African art museum is the "national" museum and must solicit support from all over the United States. "No feathers ruffled," says Melody Kanschat, LACMA's president. "We all understand that museums compete for the attention of potential donors and collectors who might be persuaded to make gifts of works of art, and it's all to the greater good."

And the task before the National Museum of African Art is a great one. According to the Smithsonian's website and its strategic plan for 2010 to 2015, the $761.4 million it currently receives from the federal government covers about 70% of an annual budget of more than $1 billion. To meet its goals through 2015, it projects needing to rake in as much as a third more money than it does now. Less than half of the additional funding is expected to come from the federal government. 

Source: Mike Goehm for the Los Angeles Times (October 15, 2010)