Sunday, December 29, 2013

Balance of Power: A Throne for an African Prince

According to Yoruba oral history, artist Olówè of Ise (about 1870–1938) could sculpt a person’s likeness on the spot—without looking at the wood he was carving. This special exhibition spotlights a single extraordinary work by Olówè: a throne he made for Prince Ilori, heir apparent of the town of Isè in southwestern Nigeria. This exhibition is organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts. On view until March 16th, 2014.

Image courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts

Friday, December 27, 2013

Gold and the Incas: Lost Worlds of Peru

The National Gallery of Australia is hosting a major international exhibition, Gold and the Incas: Lost Worlds of Peru, until April 21, 2014. This installation is the most important survey of Peruvian art ever staged in Australia and will showcase the splendor of the ancient pre-Hispanic cultures of Peru. Audiences will encounter the aesthetic depth, drama and beauty of the famous Incan empire and its predecessors. More than 200 objects, from scintillating gold pieces made to decorate the nobility in life or in death, intricate jewelery, elaborate embroidered and woven cloths to breathtakingly sophisticated ceramic sculptures will be on display.

Images and information courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Beyond Eldorado: Power and Gold in Ancient Colombia

From the Spanish Conquistadors to DreamWorks Studio’s animated heroes Tulio and Miguel, and by way of Voltaire’s Candide, many have dreamed of El Dorado. Whether a utopia or a myth, the legend of this lost city of gold rests on a fascinating reality that the British Museum’s most recent exhibition explores. Beyond El Dorado: Power and Gold in Ancient Colombia, on view through March 23, 2014, begins with the ritual that is the origin of the notion of El Dorado, which means “the golden one.” In this ritual, which was celebrated at Lake Guatavita, not far from what is now Bogota in Colombia, an individual who was contending for power was covered with gold dust, dove into the lake, and emerged as a chief of the Muisca people.

For more information on this exhibition, visit the official website.

Images and information courtesy of The British Museum

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Miniatures - New Exhibit at Jacaranda Tribal

Jacaranda Tribal is currently presenting a new online exhibit devoted to beautiful, diminutive tribal works from southern and central Africa, New Guinea, North America, and elsewhere. From tiny ivory carvings from the Congo to antique fish hooks from the far reaches of the Pacific, these works embody a quiet beauty that draws the viewer in, inviting one to a closer examination of elegance.

Below are some highlights from the exhibit. For more information on these objects and many more, visit

Korwar figure  -  New Guinea (Irian Jaya)  -  19th century

Ikokho pendant  -  Pende, D.R. Congo  -  Late 19th or early 20th century

Charm figure  -  Dogon, Mali  -  Late 19th or early 20th century

Fish hook  -  Eskimo  -  First quarter of 19th century

Wirework gourd  -  Shona, Zimbabwe  -  Late 19th or early 20th century
Charm figure  -  Dengese, D. R. Congo  -  Late 19th or early 20th century

Images ©James Worrell 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Curtis Reframed: The Arizona Portfolios

In the early decades of the 20th century, famed photographer of the American West Edward S. Curtis created and published a vast photographic record of North American Indians. These iconic images have generated controversy even as they have fascinated generations of viewers. Photogravures from the permanent collections of the Arizona State Museum and examples of the copper plates from the collections of the Center for Creative Photography are currently on view at the ASM in Curtis Reframed: The Arizona Portfolios, an exhibition exploring Curtis’s work with thirteen Arizona tribes from 1903 to 1928. Twenty images will be exhibited at one time, then rotated after six months, for a total of sixty over the life of the exhibit.

Information and images courtesy of the Arizona State Museum

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tribal Art Auction at Koller

Koller of Zurich will present a sale of tribal art and artifacts today, December 11. Featuring a range of works from Africa, the Americas, and elsewhere, the sale will highlight a special selection of objects from the Galaverni Collection.

Mask  -  Dan, Liberia
Mask  -  Nafana, Burkina Faso
Figure  -  Cameroon Grassfields

Images courtesy of Koller Auktionen

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Before and after the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Art Gallery of Ontario are together presenting Before and After the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes, the first major museum survey of Native artists from the Great Lakes region. The exhibition features more than 100 works from prehistory to the present day. These range from early tools to clothing to weapons to items of ritual life, as well as visual expressions of contemporary artists.

Visit the exhibition's official website.

Images courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

Monday, December 9, 2013

Chiefs and Governors: Art and Power in Fiji

Chiefs and Governors: Art and Power in Fiji , on show now at the Museum and Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge, is the first ever exhibition dedicated to traditional Fijian art outside its home country. It draws on MAA’s exceptional collection of Fijian artifacts, photographs and archives, a collection closely linked to the early colonial history of Fiji and the foundation of the Museum. Baron Anatole von Hügel, MAA’s first curator, travelled within Fiji between 1874 and 1877, and along with Sir Arthur Gordon (First Governor of Fiji) and Alfred Percival Maudslay (Sir Arthur’s private secretary) assembled an impressive Fijian collection, including outstanding objects presented by Fijian and Tongan chiefs. This material formed the founding ethnographic collection of the Museum when it opened in 1884. 

Information and image courtesy of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge

Friday, November 29, 2013

Tribal Art at Sotheby's

The next sale of tribal art at Sotheby’s willbhonor the great collectors and dealers of the first half of the twentieth century, a seminal period in the history of the appreciation of tribal art in the West, as many of the offerings on December 11 will include so many objects that passed through their hands. The highlight of the auction will undoubtedly be a Fang reliquary figure from Gabon that belonged to Georges de Miré. Another Gabonese reliquary guardian figure, this one of Kota origin and with a prestigious provenance, will also be offered. Previews of the sale will be held on December 6–10.

Reliquary figure  -  Fang, Gabon

Chief's adze  -  Maori, New Zealand

Figure  -  Ifugao, Philippines

Ivory sceptres  -  Kongo, D.R. Congo

Images courtesy of Sotheby's

Thursday, November 28, 2013

African and Oceanic Art at Christie's

On December 10, Christie’s Paris will hold a sale of 114 African and Oceanic works. Among the finely curated lots will be a large Dogon figure from Mali dating to the fifteenth century. Two Punu masks, one white and the other black, will also be offered and will be the subject of a lecture by Louis Perrois on Monday, December 9. Viewings for the sale will be held on December 7 & 9.

Standing figure  -  Dogon, Mali

Temple bust  -  Fiji

Staff finial  -  Kongo, D.R. Congo

Images courtesy of Christie's

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Native American Art Sale at Bonhams

Bonhams will present a sale of fine Native American art and artifacts in San Francisco on December 9. The lots will include a range of works from traditional cultures across North America, one of the major highlights of which is an exquisite Okvik ivory head (pictured below).

Ivory head  -  Okvik culture, Alaska  -  200 BCE–100 CE

Image courtesy of Bonhams

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tribal Art Sale at Zemanek-Munster

Auctioneers Zemanek-Münster of Würzburg will present their 75th sale of tribal art on November 30.  The extensive array of lots will include fine works from across the world, spanning traditional carvings from Africa, Oceania, Indonesia, Asia, and elsewhere.

Image courtesy of Zemanek-Münster

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Memoires religieuses Baga

The Musée Barbier-Mueller in Geneva is presenting Mémoires Religieuses, Baga (Religious Memories, Baga) from October 17, 2013, through March 30, 2014, and will shed light on the cultural practices of a people divided between tradition and modernity. The exhibition reveals many other types of Baga objects, as well as objects from associated groups like the Nalu, Landuman, and Susu. These include helmet and face masks, altar masks, crests, drums, and statues, all testimonies to artistic traditions that became extinct in the 1950s. Nonetheless, Baga culture has not disappeared. While they are not as overtly evident as they used to be, the ancient beliefs remain strong and deeply rooted.

Image courtesy of the Musée Barbier-Mueller

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Secrets d'Ivoire, l'art des Lega d'Afrique centrale

The exhibition Secrets d'Ivoire, l'art des Lega d'Afrique centrale (Secrets of Ivory, The Art of the Lega of Central Africa) presents many masterpieces of Lega art, one of the most important artistic traditions of central Africa. Held in the Jay T. Last collection of the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles, these works are now being shown for the first time in Europe. Passionate about Africa and African art, Jay T. Last started to build an impressive collection some forty years ago that had Lega art as its focus. He is donating more than 240 wood and ivory sculptures to the Fowler Museum that are now on view at the Musée du Quai Branly.

Images courtesy of the Musée du Quai Branly

Saturday, November 9, 2013

American Indian and Ethnographic Art at Skinner

Skinner will present a sale of fine Native American antiques and other traditional art in Boston today, November 9.  Among the lots will be a wide range of exquisite North American items from the Southwest to the Woodlands, as well as Maori carvings from New Zealand, figurative ceramics from ancient Mexico, and much more.

Totem pole attributed to John Cross  -  Haida, Northwest Coast

Door lintel panel  -  Maori, New Zealand

Belt cup with portrait carving  -  Northeast

Images courtesy of Skinner Auction

The Allan Stone Collection at Sotheby's

On November 15, 2013, Sotheby’s will present The Collection of Allan Stone: African, Oceanic, and Indonesian Art—Volume One, the first of two sales of the tribal art collection of the legendary New York art dealer. A second sale of equal size will be held in November 2014. Sotheby’s believes that this is the most significant African and Oceanic art collection to be offered in New York since the Helena Rubinstein auction in 1966. Many of the works to be offered have been included in publications and museum exhibitions. A small selection from the collection was the subject of the 2011 exhibition Power Incarnate: Allan Stone’s Collection of Sculpture from the Congo at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut. Among the highlights of the collection is an exceptional group of Songye power figures and Kongo nail figures from the Democratic Republic of the Congo—two of the most iconic genres of African art.

Power figure  -  Kongo/Yombe, D. R. Congo

Warrior mask  -  Kuba, D.R. Congo

Kifwebe mask  -  Songye, D. R. Congo

Power figure  -  Songye, D. R. Congo

Power figure  -  Songye, D. R. Congo

Power figure  -  Songye, D. R. Congo

Images courtesy of Sotheby's

Friday, November 8, 2013

Tribal Art Sale at Bonhams

Bonhams will present an autumn sale of fine African, Oceanic and pre-Columbian art on November 14. The show's major highlight - among the range of other exquisite offerings - is a magnificent Baga shoulder mask representing a beautiful mother from Guinea, estimated between $400,000–600,000.

Image courtesy of Bonhams

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Madison Ancient and Tribal Art 2013

Madison Ancient and Tribal Art will be held this month at New York City's Arader Gallery from November 13–16. MATA is an alliance of International dealers specializing in the art of traditional cultures, among them such highly regarded names as Marc Assayag, Kellim Brown, Bruce Frank, Jacaranda, Charles Moreau, James Stephenson, Tamabaran Gallery and Pace Primitive. The Fall MATA exhibit will run concurrently with the exhibition and sale of the Allan Stone collection of African, Oceanic and Indonesian art at Sotheby's, and the auction of fine tribal art at Bonhams. 

Jacaranda Tribal will present a range of antique tribal works from cultures across the globe, from gorgeous Hawaiian fish hooks to Congolese power figures.

For more information, please visit the official MATA website.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Escultures Musicals

Through April 21, 2014, the Museu de la Música in Barcelona presents a sampling of 130 pieces from the Fundación La Fontana’s magnificent collection of musical instruments, which encompasses 2,000 objects from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania. Created by Helena Folch-Rusiñol and her husband Alejandro Maluquer, its volume, diversity and artistic value make this collection a prime international example of musical heritage conservation in Spain. 

Information and images courtesy of the Museu de la Música