Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Acquisitions at Jacaranda Tribal

A beautiful new group of African antiques is now available at Jacaranda Tribal. Ranging from snuff gourds to masks and implements of war, our diverse range of new acquisitions offer a wealth of gorgeous textures and forms from across the African continent. South African works predominate in the assemblage, joined by objects representing cultures from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Zambia, and the Congo. Seen below are a selection of this season's offerings. The full range of new acquisitions in on view at our website (link below).

Ibibio ekpo society mask
Nigeria - Early 20th century

Kota knife with sheath
 Congo - Late 19th or early 20th century

Ethiopia - 20th century

Ndebele fertility doll
South Africa - Early 20th century

Zulu beadwork panel
South Africa - Late 19th or early 20th century

Zulu beaded neckpiece
South Africa - Late 19th or early 20th century

Nyakusa pot
Tanzania or Zambia - 20th century

Visit us on the web for more details on our new acquisitions and much, much more.

Happy holidays!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Winter Sale at Sotheby's

Sotheby's Paris will present its winter tribal art auction on Wednesday, December 14. Featuring a wide array of outstanding works from Africa and Oceania, the sale should generate its most intense bidding around a number of gorgeous and uncommon objects from West and Central Africa. Among the auction's most anticipated offerings will be a pair of fascinating Yoruba/Nago figural groups; an impressive anthropomorphic Dan spoon; a Bangwa power figure with numerous charge niches; a compelling and unusual Lega ivory statuette; and a beautifully rendered Luluwa bust.

View the online catalogue at the official Sotheby's website.

Winter Sale at Christie's

Christie's Paris will present its winter sale of tribal art on Tuesday, December 13. Showcasing a fine assemblage of African and Oceanic antiquities, the auction will be accompanied by an adjunct sale of compelling Oceanic works from the collection of Daniel Blau.
Highlights from the main sale will include a powerful Bamana female figure; a refined Fang ngil mask; a highly elegant Luba caryatid stool; and a mesmerizing Ashanti figure with outstretched arms.

View the online catalogue at the official Christie's website.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

LACMA appoints curator to guide new African art program

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has named Dr. Mary (Polly) Nooter Roberts Consulting Curator of African Art to help launch a program and establish a gallery dedicated to the arts of Africa. Dr. Roberts is Professor of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA, and was Senior Curator of the Museum for African Art in New York from 1984–1994 and Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Fowler Museum at UCLA from 1999-2008.

The goal of Dr. Roberts’s appointment is to bring greater visibility to African arts in Southern California while creating programmatic linkages between LACMA and UCLA. As LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director Michael Govan states, “We have looked forward to launching a program for African art for several years and the timing seems right. We are excited to work with Polly Nooter Roberts as we explore new ways of understanding and presenting the richness of African artistic expression.”

LACMA’s growing collection of African art is diverse in form, material, and purpose. Works include masks and figures of wood and ivory, metalwork, textiles, beaded crowns, stools, and body adornments. Notable in the collection are a bronze plaque depicting a seventeenth-century official of the Benin Kingdom; a boli figure from Mali; and a selection of works from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Courtesy of and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Thursday, December 1, 2011

In Memory of William Siegmann

William Siegmann, Curator Emeritus of the Arts of Africa and the Pacific Islands at the Brooklyn Museum, passed away peacefully on November 29, 2011.

Bill had a long-standing and deeply personal connection to Liberia, which began with service in the Peace Corps in the late 1960s and continued throughout his life. He taught at Cuttington University, where he also founded the Africana Museum. Bill returned to Liberia to pursue research between 1974 and 1976, which was supported by a Fulbright-Hays fellowship. Upon his return to the U.S., he served as a curator, first at the Museum of the Society of African Missions, in Tenafly, N.J., and then at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco from 1979-84.

Upon being awarded another Fulbright fellowship in 1984, Bill once again returned to Liberia. In conjunction with the West African Museums Programme, he served as Director of the National Museum of Liberia, in Monrovia, where he oversaw the renovation of the museum’s nineteenth-century building and the expansion and re-installation of its collections.

During his tenure at Brooklyn from 1987 to 2007, Bill acquired over 1600 objects for the museum, a prolific record of considered connoisseurship that is unmatched in the history of Brooklyn’s African and Pacific collections. He also organized at least eight major exhibitions at Brooklyn, including African Art and Leadership; Image and Reflection: Adolph Gottlieb's Pictographs and African Sculpture; In Pursuit of the Spiritual: Oceanic Art Given by Mr. and Mrs. John A. Friede and Mrs. Melville W. Hall; African Furniture, and Masterworks of African Art from the Collection of Beatrice Riese, as well as four separate re-installations of the African and Pacific Islands collections. He authored African Art: A Century at the Brooklyn Museum (Prestel, 2009), the first catalogue on the museum’s collection. Most recently, Bill served as a consultant to the Saint Louis Art Museum.

Bill was one of the leading experts on the arts of Liberia and Sierra Leone. He wrote extensively on the arts of masquerades and age grades in this region, and on issues in museology, collecting, and interpretation. Bill also shared his skills in collections development broadly, conducting frequent seminars on museum management and curatorial training in Europe, Africa, and South America through grants from UNESCO and the U.S. Department of State. He also taught at numerous universities in Africa and the U.S.

Bill’s considerable generosity and openness of spirit has touched many in the world of tribal art over the years. He was an invaluable resource, whose guidance and intellect was treasured. That strength, warmth, and wit remained unbowed, until the end.

A memorial service will be announced in the coming months. Deepest condolences go out to his family and his many friends around the world.

Courtesy of Kevin D. Dumouchelle, Assistant Curator - Arts of Africa and the Pacific Islands, Brooklyn Museum

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Heroic Africans at the Met

This fall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art unveiled a stunning exhibition highlighting eight major sculptural traditions from West and Central Africa. Focusing on canonized portraiture of storied, nigh-mythical chieftans, kings, and other larger-than-life elite, Heroic Africans. Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures traces the histories of these cultures through the chronology of the individuals they enshrined, sculpted images of whom were often the only tangible historical record left to posterity. 

The masterpieces on display represent the Akan, Bangwa, Kom, Chokwe, Luluwa, Kuba, and Hemba cultures, as well as the civilizations of Ife and Benin. Equally impressive on aesthetic, conceptual, and curatorial levels, the installation offers audiences unprecedented experiences on every side. The in-depth examination of specific identities and personal histories to which visitors are treated here is already uncommon in African exhibitions, let alone one that encompasses such a wide variety of exceedingly beautiful and disparate works. 

Beginning from this rare and challenging theme, Heroic Africans leads viewers through a great hall of champions, from culture-founders to queen mothers, concluding with an amazing assemblage of twenty-two Hemba commemoration figures, such an overwhelming gathering of which has never been seen before.

Visit the official website here.

Images courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Friday, March 11, 2011

Reconfiguring an African Icon: Odes to the Mask by Modern and Contemporary Artists from Three Continents

A new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art examines the influence of the African mask on modern and contemporary art.

Works featured in this installation are highly creative imaginings of the iconic form of the African mask. The installation is a collaboration between the Museum's departments of Nineteenth Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art and Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.

In many world cultures masks allow performers to adopt a wide range of characters and emotions. They can take on an endless variety of forms: human or animal; sacred or profane; dramatic or comedic. They are not meant to be experienced in isolation but rather as an integral component of celebrations, from the epic cultures to Dogon elders in Mali to popular holidays such as Halloween or Day of the Dead and numerous Mardi Gras carnivals held throughout Europe and Latin America.

It is well known that African art forms, most notably the mask, were a source of inspiration for modern artists such as Pablo Picasso, Andre Derain, and Henri Matisse in the early 20th century. The aesthetic of the African mask thus contributed to a redefinition of the Western visual lexicon. Considered especially alluring were its accessible reimagining of the human face and its aura of inscrutability.

This selection of works from Africa, Europe and the United States attests to the enduring relevance of the African mask in modern and contemporary art. The five artists represented here - Lynda Benglis, Willie Cole, Calixte Dakpogan, Romuald Hazoume, and Man Ray - have all used the African mask as a catalyst for creative exploration. Their works reflect on a century of viewing the mask as a disembodied form - that is, as an object in a museum removed from its original performative context.

African masks are often thought of as carved wooden artifacts, but they are an inherently complex and dynamic art form: to fully appreciate them, one must view them in motion, animated by costumes, dance and music; the various media added to their surfaces are thought to imbue them with mystical powers; and the influence of foreign materials and techniques have led to a continuous redefinition of the genre.

Responding to the sheer physicality of the mask while alluding to its spiritual quality, each of the works in this exhibition pays tribute to the powerful legacy of the African mask and its infinite potential for reinvention.

The exhibition opened on March 8th and will be on display on the 1st floor gallery between the Michael C. Rockefeller and Lila Acheson Wallace wings of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art website
Image: Portait Mask (Gba gba), Cote d'Ivoire, Baule peoples, before 1913. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Adrienne Minassian, 1997

Man Ray, "Noire et Blanche" 1926
Gelatin silver print, 8.75 x 10.75 inches
Private Collection, New York
Romald Hazoume, "Ibedji (Nos. 1 and 2) Twins" 1992
plastic can, raffia, cowries and acrylic, 16.5 x 11.75 x 3.875 inches
courtesy CAAC - The Pigozzi Collection, Geneva

Friday, February 18, 2011

Jacaranda Tribal at San Francisco Tribal and Textile Arts Show

Jacaranda has just returned from the annual San Francisco Tribal and Textile Arts show. 

The fair, which began Thursday, February 11 and ended Sunday, February 13, is presented by Caskey Lees Antique and Fine Art Shows. The San Francisco show is one of the world's most important exhibitions and sales of tribal, ethnographic art, oriental rugs, textiles, jewelry and sculpture. 

The week brings more than 100 top international art dealers from around the world to sell art and artifacts from the Oceanic Islands, Polynesia, the Middle East, Central and South America and Indonesia. 

Jacaranda offered museum quality African art works, including pipes, headrests, and weaponry. The central piece to the booth was an exceptionally rare Initiation Figure from South Africa. The large, expressive figure is depicted standing, with his hands on his hips and a furrowed brow. Figurative works in such exquisite condition are unique for South Africa. 

Also on display were a collection of Zulu pipes with metal inlay from the collection of British pipe collector, Trevor Barton; a Palm Wine horn from the Kuba peoples of Congo, with exceptional carving and used for drinking palm wine, as well as a number of Ndebele beadworks and Shona snuff containers. 

See below for views of our booth! 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jacaranda has Moved!

Jacaranda is pleased to announce the opening of our new gallery.

Please visit us at:

280 Riverside Drive, Suite 13 E
New York, New York  10025

Visits by Appointment
(212) 713 - 0465   office
(646) 251 - 8528  mobile


Monday, January 17, 2011

"The Global Africa Project" - on display at the Museum of Arts and Design

"The Global Africa Project," currently on display at the Museum of Arts & Design, examines the jewelry, fashion, architecture, basketry, ceramics, painting, and design of the continent. The show presents 200 works by nearly 120 people, teams and collectives. It represents artists, designers, and artisans who produce works that represent the area. 

The show aims to "explore the impact of African visual culture on contemporary art, craft and design around the world." Items on display include the work of Baltimore bead sculptor Joyce Scott and 'drapos' by Haitian artist George Valris. Photographs by J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere of African women's headdresses and elaborate hairdos are also on exhibit, alongside crocheted hats by artist Xenobia Bailey. Other featured artists range from such well-known figures as Yinka Shonibare, MBE, Kehinde Wiley, and Fred Wilson; to Nigerian-born, London-based fashion designer Duro Olowu, and Paris-based Togolese/Brazilian designer Kossi Aguessy. 

The show is curated by Lowery Stokes Sims, MAD's Charles Bronfman International Curator, and Leslie King-Hammond, Founding Director of the Center for Race and Culture at MICA. The exhibit is organized around several thematic ideas, which include: the phenomenon of intersecting cultures and cultural fusion; the branding and co-opting of cultural references; how art and design is promoted in the international market and the creative global scene; the use of local materials; and the impact of art-making on the economic and social condition of local communities. These themes will, according to the curators, "encourage audiences to discern how global African artists grapple with the commodification of art production and the meaning and value of art in society - an increasingly significant issue for nations in a rapidly changing global context."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rare Yup'ik Mask to sell for $2.1 million at Winter Antiques Show

More than 100 years ago, a Yup'ik Eskimo used wood, pigment, sinew, feather and fiber to make a mask celebrating the winds. Now, its striking appearance, rarity and influence on modern art have led its owner to ask what may be a record price for a Native American work.

The 34-inch tall "Donati Studio Mask" - known to the Yup'iks as "the mask that brought the south winds," and therefore spring and sustenance - is for sale at the Donald Ellis Gallery in Dundas, Ontario.

The Yup'iks of western Alaska made elaborate masks for their ceremonial dances, and Mr. Ellis's windmaker mask is one of a dozen bought from the tribe in 1905 by trader Adam Hollis Twitchell. He sold the mask to George Gustav Heye, a collector whose purchases became the core of the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution.

But when the museum had financial trouble in the 1940s, it sold five of its Yup'ik masks. A New York dealer purchased them, for prices ranging from $120 to $160. He resold several to Surrealist artists, including the writer Andre Breton and painter-sculptor Enrico Donati, both of whom found inspiration in the masks.

Four of those five masks are now owned by museums. The most famous of the five, once owned by Mr. Breton, is on view at the Louvre; another is at the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, the private museum established by the late Swiss dealer Ernst Beyeler.

It was the famed dealer's only purchase of Native American art. Mr. Ellis says that modern art collectors, rather than Native-American-art collectors, buy many Yup'ik works because of their relevance to 20th-century art. "These are conceptual works of art," he says.

The Italian-born Donati worked in the U.S. for many decades, dying in 2008 at the age of 99. The Donati Studio Mask is by the same Native American artist and has the same provenance as the Breton mask.

Mr. Ellis is asking just above $2.1 million, a sum fetched a few years ago for a war helmet of the Tlingit - another Pacific Northwest tribe - at a Connecticut auction. People knowledgable about Native American artworks generally consider that total a record.

The mask will be on display at Donald Ellis gallery's booth at the Winter Antiques Show, running January 21-30.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Judith H. Dobrzynski

Friday, January 7, 2011

Kennedy Center President to Meet with African Art Leaders

Michael M. Kaiser, the President of the Kennedy Center, announced Wednesday that he is transporting his arts management in February to five countries in Africa.

As an extension of the training programs at the center, Kaiser plans to hold meetings in Nairobi, Kenya; Lagos, Nigeria; Zanzibar, Tanzania; Kampala, Uganda and Harare, Zimbabwe.

Those nations have had participants in the center's training sessions in Washington. "They all expressed a need for more training in those countries. And I thought we had ignored the central part of Africa," Kaiser said.

Kaiser has conducted sessions in Egypt and South Africa, some of the 70 countries that have participated in the center's outreach.

The center itself has only spotlighted performing arts from Africa in a three-year festival, African Odyssey, that ran from 1997 to 2000.

The issues are very similar to ones Kaiser encountered when he held a national listening tour in all 50 states called "Arts in Crisis." "The resources are different," he explained. "In the United States many people are expected to support the arts. That is not so in Africa. There is very little individual fund-raising. And that's true in most countries of the world."

Most of the countries he is visiting, Kaiser said, "do not have a lot of government support and the question is how do you put funding together. Funding, marketing and artistic issues are very central." Many organizations are supported by funders from Europe.

The travel is scheduled for February 7-14. The program is privately supported by the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the center.

Source: Washington Post Online

Monday, January 3, 2011

Brooklyn Museum to Return Pre-Columbian Objects to Costa Rica

The Brooklyn Museum is preparing to return about 4,500 pre-Columbian artifacts taken from Costa Rica roughly a century ago.

Costa Rica had made no claim to the objects, which were exported in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Minor C. Keith, a railroad magnate and a founder of the United Fruit Company. And there were none of the conflicts, legal threats or philosophical debates that sometimes accompany arguments between museums and countries that claim ownership of antiquities in their collections.
Instead, the museum simply decided that its closets were too full, overstuffed with items acquired during an era when it aimed to become the biggest museum in the world. So it offered the pieces to the National Museum of Costa Rica, which accepted but has yet to raise the $59,000 needed to pack and ship the first batch.
The objects that the Museum plans to let go are primarily made of ceramic and stone; they include bowls and other vessels, figurines, benches and ceremonial metates, or grinding stones. They are among 16,000 artifacts, some made of gold and jade, that Keith and his workers found on his Costa Rican banana plantations. About 5,000 of these pieces ended up in Brooklyn. The museum's plan to transfer some of the collection to Costa Rica was first reported in ARTnews.
The museum plans to keep some of the most valuable pieces, including gold and jade animals and anthropomorphic figurines and pendants. It is unlikely that many of the items being returned have ever been exhibited, although the museum’s records are not precise in that regard. Earlier efforts to give them to Costa Rican and American museums were unsuccessful.
“It’s exciting to find a home” for the objects, the museum’s curator of the arts of the Americas, Nancy Rosoff, said. “Hopefully they can come up with the money.”
The decision to part with most of the Keith objects is part of a culling of the Brooklyn Museum’s collection that has been under way for a decade. Museum officials once estimated the size of its collection as 1.5 million items, although they are revising that downward as records become computerized.
The goal of the culling is to remove works that are not being exhibited or do not fit the museum’s mission, and to reduce storage costs and to conserve staff members’ time. Kevin Stayton, the Brooklyn Museum’s chief curator, said it was an effort, at a time of strained budgets, to make sure that “we’re not overextending ourselves.”
The largest group of items to leave the Brooklyn Museum so far is its collection of costumes, 23,819 that were transferred to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2009. About another 4,400 objects have been deaccessioned already, including 983 Keith pieces. Ms. Rosoff said she expected ultimately to transfer 90 percent of the museum’s Keith objects to Costa Rica.
Like many American museums founded in the late 19th century, the Brooklyn Museum had an almost insatiable appetite for material. Known in its early years as the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, the museum was conceived as Brooklyn’s answer to the Metropolitan, and then some, with departments focused on natural history and the sciences as well as on art. It was designed to be the largest museum in the world, but after Brooklyn was consolidated into New York City in 1898, the effort lost momentum, and only a sixth of the planned structure was finally built.
The museum acquired the Keith collection in 1934, five years after Keith’s death. Keith, who was born in Brooklyn, had gone to Costa Rica in 1871, at 23, to join his brother in building a railroad from San José to the Caribbean Sea. During the project’s construction — which took two decades — Keith also established himself as one of the biggest growers and exporters of bananas in Central America. It was on one of his Costa Rican plantations, called Las Mercedes, that his workers first came across pre-Columbian gold ornaments, spurring the start of his collecting.
When the Brooklyn Museum first contacted the Costa Rican museum several years ago about the possibility of transferring most of its Keith objects, it received no response, so it reached out to American museums that had their own Keith collections: the American Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian's  National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of the American Indian. Perhaps unsurprisingly, since the Brooklyn Museum was planning to keep the cream of the collection, the other museums were not interested.
The Brooklyn Museum reached out to the Costa Rican museum again last year and that time got a positive response — though, in the absence of money to ship the objects, it leaves the timing of a transfer up in the air.
Since beginning a review of the Keith objects in Brooklyn several years ago, Ms. Rosoff has tackled only the ceramic materials and has not gotten through all of those. Among the objects she has chosen to keep are a vessel ornamented with the head, feet and tail of a tapir (a hoglike mammal with a long snout) and another piece, of unidentified function, embellished with a sculptured figure of an armadillo. The objects being sent back to Costa Rica are not of exhibition quality, at least not in an art museum, Ms. Rosoff said, but do have potential value to students and researchers. 

To the Costa Rican museum, though, the transfer seems to be of primarily symbolic importance. Sandra Quirós, director of the National Museum of Costa Rica, said in a telephone interview that the museum did not have immediate plans to display the objects, even if it found the money to ship them. Instead the items would probably go into storage, where they would be available to researchers. She was enthusiastic, however, about regaining part of the country’s cultural patrimony.
“This wasn’t an initiative of ours — it came from outside — but once we were informed of it, of course it was of interest because this is part of Costa Rica’s history,” she said, speaking through an interpreter.
In some ways the transfer is not unlike the Metropolitan Museum’s recent decision to return to Egypt 19 artifacts from Tutankhamen's  tomb. In that case the Met concluded that the objects had come to the museum in violation of an agreement intended to keep the contents of the tomb in Egypt. However, the objects’ minor significance — some were little more than bits of wood — made the return seem to be partly an easy way to garner some goodwill with Zahi Hawas, the forceful secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt.
Ms. Quirós said there were no legal issues surrounding the Brooklyn Museum’s ownership of the objects, since they left the country before a 1938 Costa Rican law restricting export of archaeological artifacts. Still, she said, she looked forward to repatriating the pieces whenever the museum could find the money.
Source: The New York Times