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.