Friday, July 2, 2010

Tribal Art: A Paris Exhibition That Wears Many Hats

Items from the “Voyage in My Head” exhibition at Maison Rouge in Paris. From left: a warrior’s headdress from Papua-New Guinea, and a bird headdress from Cameroon.

For true hat lovers, the hottest place in June, most years, is Ladies’ Day at Ascot, London’s high society horse racing venue, when the spectators’ area is awash in hats of every color, shape and description. This year, however, Ascot comes second to the Maison Rouge Museum in Paris.

Through Sept. 26, the museum, a stone’s throw from the Bastille Opera House, is showing “Voyage Dans Ma Tête” (“Voyage in My Head”), an extraordinary exhibition of ethnic and tribal head-wear collected by the museum’s founder and president, Antoine de Galbert.

Over the past 15 years Mr. de Galbert has scoured the world, searching out unique and rare examples of the tribal hatter’s skills. The result is more than 400 decorative pieces, assembled from feathers, bones, beads, pearls, crocodile scales, monkey skulls and human hair, all collected from the four corners of the globe.

“My first purchase was a Papuan headdress of Cassowary feathers,” Mr. de Galbert said recently. “It was too small to be worn by a human, it belonged to a statue.” That piece is in the show, alongside tribal tiaras, crowns, hoods and helmets from Amazonia to India by way of Africa, Asia and the Pacific islands: headgear for every ritual, from religion to seduction to war.

Mr. de Galbert created the Maison Rouge in 2004, transforming a 27,000-square-foot former industrial space into a hyper-modern, minimalist set of exhibition rooms surrounding an art library and cafe. The style is cutting-edge contemporary, with a penchant for shows, like this one, that escape from the glass vitrine into the domain of installation art.

La Maison Rouge, 10 Boulevard de la Bastille; (33-1) 40-01-08-81; Admission is 7 euros, or $8.64, at $1.23 to the euro.

Source: The NY Times
By: Claudia Barbieri

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