Saturday, May 12, 2012

Strong Results at Sotheby's and Christie's

The results of the spring tribal art auctions at the New York salesrooms of Sotheby's and Christie's were sound testimony to the continuing vitality of the ethnographic art market.

The Christie's sale on May 10, which featured objects from the collection of the late Ernst Beyeler, saw the sale of a fine Santa Cruz Islands platter for $314,500; an impressive Bidjogo mask from Guinea Bissau for $266, 500; and an Australian Aboriginal shield, estimated at a mere $3,000–5,000, for $116, 500.

The large sale at Sotheby's on May 11 saw even more impressive hammer prices.  Three objects––a fantastic Bamana zigzag figure, a serene Buyu male figure, and an imposing Luluwa mask once in the collection of Dr. Werner Muensterberger––each sold for approximately $2.5 million.  An excellent Kota reliquary figure commanded just over $1 million, while a Bamana seated female figure and a Dogon female figure ended at $782,500 and $542,500, respectively.  Two major surprises came in the form of an Azande bone figure that exceeded its estimate almost tenfold at $512,500 and an unusual Lega mask, once owned by Henri Matisse, that began at an estimated $5,000–7,000 and eventually garnered a closing price of $362,500.

Platter in the form of a fish  -  Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands
Mask  -  Bidjogo, Guinea Bissau
Shield  -  Australian Aboriginal
Zigzag figure  -  Bamana, Mali
Male figure  -  Buyu, D. R. Congo
Helmet mask  -  Luluwa, D. R. Congo
Reliquary figure  -  Kota, Gabon
Seated female figure  -  Bamana, Mali
Female figure  -  Dogon, Mali
Bone figure  -  Azande, D. R. Congo
Mask (with possible additions by Henri Matisse)  -  Lega, D. R. Congo

Information and images courtesy of Sotheby's and Christie's

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