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.

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