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World Art

In the top ten of bids, the ethnic arts by no means drag their heels. These treasures of africa, america and oceania sold at auction have fascinated collectors from André Breton to Pablo Picasso and from Pierre Vérité to Jacques Kerchache.
In 2000, Kerchache was largely responsible for introducing works by these peoples considered "without writing or history" to the Louvre, foreshadowing the opening of the musée du Quai Branly in Paris.
"Masterpieces the world over are born free and equal," to quote the man who loved these magical objects from all over the globe: from Africa (Ivory Coast, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Angola, Burkina-Faso, Gabon, Madagascar, etc.), oceania (Papua New Guinea, the Marquesas Islands, the Cook Islands, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Polynesia, etc.), the americas (the Tainos of the caribbean islands, the Inuits from the gulf of Alaska) and insulindia (Borneo, Indonesia). While they acquired the rank of art works late on in their history, since 2000, the ethnic arts have certainly been adding fuel to the (sacred) fire in online auctions, with dogon masks, fang statues, kota mbulu-ngulu reliquary figures, maoris pendants and eskimo sculptures.


Recommended lots

A superb and very old mask, with a slightly pinched mouth and a large powerful forehead, like its cheekbones, that plunges and ends with large arches that protrude and overhang its slit eyes. This mask is exceptional both for its plastic qualities, its great age, its presence, and for the rarity of its typology. It is covered with an important patina of soot, known as smoke, which testifies to its age and to the fumigation methods that made it possible to preserve important objects in situ from woodborers. It is still marked by an ancient reddish pigment around the eyes. It is not surprising in view of all its qualities that this beautiful mask passed through the hands and expert eye of René Rasmussen, who kept it in his private collection, and who published it in 1951 with other works from his collection in a small publication (Art Nègre) presented by him and which has since become almost mythical. For a mask of the same rare typology, but of much lesser quality and age, see : Masken der Wè und Dan Elfenbeinküste - Die Sammlung des Schweizer Malers Charles Hug Paris 1928- 31, Museum Rietberg Zürich, 1997, p. 77, fig. 47. Dan, Ivory Coast Wood, remnant of an old ochre pigment around the eyes, superb and old patina from smoke and use. H. Height : 25 cm Provenance : - Private collection of René Rasmussen, Paris. - Sotheby's sale, London, July 3, 1989, lot 86. - Collection Nadine Vinot-Postry, Paris, 1992. Publication : Art Nègre, presented by René Rasmussen, Éd. Le Soleil Noir 1951, reproduced fig. 24.

Estim. 12,000 - 15,000 EUR

*A very ancient and rare anthropomorphic stone statue probably representing a deified ancestor, and constituting a major rediscovery for the arts of Vanuatu, but also more generally for Melanesian arts.Pierre Langlois wrote in March 1962 in a very beautiful text entitled The Art of the New Hebrides: "If we know Oceanic arts well enough, the art of the New Hebrides is however an exception. We have very little information about it, and no serious monograph has yet been devoted to it. Since that time, it has been done, and many travelers, researchers, anthropologists, and archaeologists have stayed in Vanuatu, notably for its art, which Pierre Langlois had also contributed to make known. Today we know thanks to archaeology that the settlement of Melanesia took place about 40,000 years ago, and 4000 years before our era the "Melanesians already had a deep knowledge of their marine and land territory", mastering navigation and moving from island to island. Concerning the ancient statuary of the Vanuatu, we know of course its large drums and its sculptures of fern ranks, as well as its masks and its famous funerary mannequins, but also and above all some rare monumental anthropomorphic sculptures: major works in the museums of Basel and the Pavillon des Cessions in the Louvre, referring to the cults of divinized ancestors. We also know of an ancient tradition of stone sculptures called "magic stones", also called "pig stones", but of which little is known. We also know of an ancient tradition of anthropomorphic coral sculptures of which only five specimens survived the ravages of Christianization and missionaries, saved by Captain Wolsh in 1884 and deposited in the Sydney Museum. The arrival of Westerners and missionaries was devastating: between 1830 and 1920 the local population is said to have decreased by 50%, and up to 90% depending on the region. Representations of deities, or deified founding ancestors, were "removed from sacred places, such as the 'marae', the 'temple' (nakamal) and other hidden shelters, and then buried or burned in wells, or thrown into the high seas. The work that we are rediscovering today is one of those works of art that comes from the past thanks to a chance discovery made between 1930 and 1940 on the island of Santo by a copra farmer who owned 1,200 hectares of land there. While surveying his land, he "found it in a hole". There is another work, also older than the other known stone sculptures from Vanuatu, which also comes from the island of Santo: it is a stone dish donated by R. Chardonnet to the Musée de l'Homme in 1957 (inv.MH57.2.9). But the best evidence from a stylistic or artistic point of view, in order to understand the importance of this rediscovery for Melanesian heritage, is probably to put this sculpture simply in relation to the famous drawing by the anthropologist Nicholai Miklouho-Maclay (1846-1888), which constitutes one of the oldest testimonies of Vanuatu statuary. And even if it is a wooden statue drawn here, the whole attitude, the slightly concave face, the characteristic round headdress, the arms closed to the body, the triangular loincloth (or sex), everything matches. In the same way, many of the same specificities are evident if we compare it with the masterpiece of the Pavillon des Cessions coming from the island of Malo and collected in 1935 during the expedition of the Korrigane. Finally, we note an important characteristic: our work is carved in its lower part in the shape of an axe, perhaps referring to the tradition of pig sacrifices or human sacrifices, or simply to stick it in the ground, but the tradition known throughout other cultures of sculptures derived from an axe shape only confirms its archaism. See Vanuatu Oceania, Arts des îles de cendre et de corail, Éd. RMN & Orstom, 1996, fig. 15, p. 17 for the Miklouho-Maclay drawing, p. 30, figs. 38 and 39 for two examples of coral sculptures collected by Wolsh, and p. 342; fig. 343 for the Santo dish donated to the Museum of Man by Chardonnet. For the sculpture from the island of Malo, see: Sculptures, Afrique Asie Océanie Amériques, Éd. RMN, 2000, pp. 274-278. Santo Island, Vanuatu, (former New Hebrides) Stone, small old minor accidents, mark on the surface in the lower part due to numerous rubbings in an old base (presented with and carved by the former owner M. Auguste Harbulot himself), very beautiful old wear and erosions, the surface of the stone testifies of a long burial. H. 57 cm Provenance : Auguste Harbulot (born in Nouméa on May 18, 1902 and died on September 12, 1946 in Port-Or

Estim. 12,000 - 15,000 EUR