Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

3122Re: [African_Arts] Sotheby's/May 16: Bareiss, Harley, Blades, Ivories, Birds, Aquatic Creatures and Waterways

Expand Messages
  • Ed Jones
    May 1, 2008
    • 0 Attachment

      Hello Lee.

      Aside from the typical beauties to be gazed upon and admired, none is more radiant than the works of Viola Vaughn and her "10,000 Girls" program in the Senegal ... thanks for sharing. 


      Kindest regards,


      --- On Thu, 5/1/08, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@...> wrote:

      From: Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@...>
      Subject: [African_Arts] Sotheby's/May 16: Bareiss, Harley, Blades, Ivories, Birds, Aquatic Creatures and Waterways
      To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Thursday, May 1, 2008, 4:01 PM

      Thanks, Rand, for the information about the Sotheby's auction.  

      For those interested to learn more about the Bareiss collection and the current Bareiss offerings (among them Lots 157-167, 170-185187), see the '99 Holland Cotter article from when the collection was exhibited at the Neuberger (Message 1540).  Also, the Sotheby's press release for the sale can be viewed at   http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/BID/296107775x0x190627/b8ba57f7-e434-4d33-9593-d987663b3062/190627.pdf

      As Paisarn indicated, Lot 176 is indeed the Zula caryatid stool previously discussed (see Message 1542).  The Bareiss Holo and Holo-Holo (157,  158159 and 160), and Songye material (170171172173 and 174) is particularly interesting and strong, as is the pre-Bembe figure, Lot 175.  For enthusiasts of musical instruments, the East African lots begin with a zither attributed to the Kwere or Zaramo (Lot 179).  Then, selected works from the Bareiss collection continue with some thrones before Lot 183 -- an elegant and alluring Utongwe-region Nyamwezi male figure, which was but one of two Utongwe-region figures in KILENGI, leading me to wonder about the disposition of the other, a female figure, and the rest of the Bareiss collection.  Anybody?

      In addition to the Bareiss offerings previously mentioned is the very recognizable Kamba figure (Lot 187) which appeared in "Africa:  Art of a Continent" as did the Utongwe Nyamwezi and the compelling Makonde Helmet Mask (Lot 185).  Based on the very interesting selection of works from the Bareiss collection (among the three collections from which works are featured), the "house" seem to be still moving cautiously with regard to the appreciation and market value attributed to Eastern and Southern African works.   

      More generally, I noticed particularly among the offerings the following lots and/or blocks of objects:

      A nice array of knives and other bladed items beginning with Lot 61 -- A Lali Knife (DRC) and continuing though Lot 74 -- A Fon Sceptre.  Also, don't miss the Holo adze (Lot 160) or Lot 191 -- a Zulu or Tsonga dance staff with blade!  There is also a fine selection of very interesting objects in both elephant and hippo ivories beginning with the Luba Pendant and also including works from the Pende, Pinda, Mbala and Lega -- Lots 128 through 133 and then Luba-Songye and Chokwe (135 and 136), and then 140 (Kongo)144 (Lega)145(Lega)146(Lega)147(Lega)148(Luba-Songye)153(Luba or Hungaan154(Fang), and 155(Luba).  There is also a Metoko figure carved from waterbuck antelope bone (Lot 177).

      One item that stands our both for its beautiful form and its history is a marionette head collected by F.H. Lem, author of the important early publication Sculptures Soudanaises, whose collection served as a primary basis for the legendary collection of the Princess Gourieli aka Helena Rubinstein.  (Why does that name sound so familiar?)  
      Lot 52-Bamana Antelope Marionette Head

      Equally intriguing for its historical significance in the realm of 20th century ethnography and collecting is Lot 85, a Mano mask collected by  George Harley.  The catalogue notes reveal why this is so remarkable:
      "The mask was collected by Dr. George Harley (1894-1966) who was a medical missionary in Ganta, Liberia from 1926-1962. During this time he acquired over one thousand masks from the region. A few hundred, particularly those collected before 1946, went to the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University; others went to private collectors. Harley was not a professional art historian or anthropologist but acquired a lot of practical knowledge through his extended stays in Liberia. In 1941 he publsihed Notes on the Poro in Liberia, followed by his second book Masks as Agents of Social Control in Northeast Liberia in 1950. While much of the information Harley provided has been disputed by later scholarship, his information nevertheless builds much of the material foundation for our knowledge of Dan and Mano masks and their function within the secret societies. Harley was working and interviewing informants during a time when there was still a relatively strong memory of Poro society practices before they began to change under Western influence. See Wells (1977: 22-27) for further discussion."*
      *i.e., Louis T. Wells, Jr., "THE HARLEY MASKS OF NORTHEAST LIBERIA,"  African Arts (Vol. X, Number 2, January, 1977).
        Lot 85  -- Mano Mask collected by George Harley

      Another sub-agenda (always lurking...) that prompts me to highlight this mask is the important and lasting relationship that mark which Harley's involvement with the Liberian communities where he collected.  To illustrate this point as well as to acknowledge continuing efforts to working together to stabilize the region and the world as a whole, see a 2005 article about recent activities at the Ganta Mission:

      "During his busy day, Nyanti pauses to tell his U.S. visitors about George W. Harley, a missionary who came to Liberia from Durham, N.C., in 1926. Speaking with reverence, repeating the missionary's full name every time he refers to him, Nyanti tells the visitors that George W. Harley cut his way to Ganta through the bush when there were no roads, believing that God was calling him to serve in this remote community. The ministry George W. Harley began in 1926, Nyanti says, grew to become Liberia's most sophisticated mission, including one of Liberia's finest hospitals, until it was nearly destroyed by rebel missiles between June and August 2003. Nyanti tells his visitors that George W. Harley's ashes are buried beneath a stone monument outside the church building at Ganta Mission. The monument used to have a marker honoring George W. Harley, he says, but the rebels stole it."  -- "Ganta Mission re-emerges after Liberia's civil war"

      On a somewhat related note... Allthough I see no specific detail regarding the initiative referenced, I think it worth pointing out that Lot 101 -- A Yoruba Epa Helmet Mask -- is listed as a "PROPERTY FROM A MIDWESTERN CORPORATE COLLECTION TO BENEFIT CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY INITIATIVES".  Perhaps someone with the printed catalog could advise if there is more detail provided in the printed materials?

      Speaking of social responsibility, below is the inevitable next tangent on a tangent.

      Newcomers to the group - and any of you who may have missed or overlooked it, please see the link from David Levine's recent posting regarding the upcoming publication about work he is doing in the Gambia and Sierra Leone and his related experiences in West Africa:  http://toubabdoc.blogspot.com/.  For information on other development initiatives in which group members are involved such as the Magic Penny and the Kambia Appeal in Sierra Leone, see Message 2296 or click the embedded links above. Also, although my web pages suffered a technical blow recently, you can view images from my recent endeavors in Senegal and Rwanda (alas, sans commentary) here.  

      Also, I would be delighted to introduce everyone to my friend and inspiration Viola Vaughn, who is the founder and director of 10,000 Girls -- a wonderful initiative with which I am involved in Senegal.  Some of you may have learned about Viola through the recent CNN coverage about her and her work to facilitate educational and entrepreneurship opportunities for young women in Senegal on CNN:
      Now, back to the offerings:

      Those who are intrigued by Lot 82 -- a Senufo Gameboard will also wish to make a special trip to the UN to see Artwork/Artplay:  African Gameboards during the month of May, just a part of the "international photographic and art exhibition by and about indigenous artists coinciding with the 7th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues taking place at UN Headquarters in New York". (Source:  http://www.africanart.org/exhibitions/.)

      Although markedly different in style but staying in the realm of the Senufo, I find it interesting to note the concurrent appearance of this Senufo bird at Sotheby's as well as Lot 111 in the Lempertz auction this past week-end.  

      In addition to the highlighted collections, I noticed two works being offered from the collection of Carl and Wilma Zabel, whose East African works were exhibited at the SMA Fathers Museum in Tenafly, NJ in 2005 as "The Discerning Eye: African Art from the Collection of Carl and Wilma Zabel" with an accompanying publication by Charles Bordogna.  The Zabel lots are as follows:  
      So, there is another Dan object and one more Tanzanian lot offered in search of receptivity to the East African traditions.  

      And while touching back on the Western Guinea Coast, two other objects that intrigued me are Lot 88 -- a Bete Staff and  Lot 95 -- A Sherbro Figure ... -- the latter noted a propos the September, 2007 discussion pertaining to the "Favorite Wife" figure and the minsereh beginning with Message 2500.  As you may note, William Siegmann, former curator of the African collection at the Brooklyn Museum who provides commentary for the offered Sherbro figure, makes reference anew to the frequent misapplication of the minsereh reference noted in Message 2505.  

      Before departing from the "Liberian hinterlands" and the catalog as well, there is one additional offered lot that I wish to highlight as an introduction to a very interesting article that touches upon another recurring theme in which I never seem to lose interest.  Nor, should I say, do I think that it is a theme that should be ignored by anyone wishing to develop an understanding of the complex inter-relationships of African traditions and forms.  I find Lot 96 -- Grebo Janus Crest remarkable for its strong resemblance to horned masks found in southeastern Nigeria.  I recently came across (again, I think) a compelling article which explored the very important and too often overlooked historical interaction among peoples of the Western Guinea Coast and the regions of southeastern Nigeria.     In "Commercial transactions and cultural interactions from the Delta to Douala and beyond," Rosalind J. Wilcox navigates this important, watery terrain, giving great impetus for further exploration of this intriguing aspect of African cultural, commercial, historical and stylistic interplay which, once recognized, re-appears constantly in comparative studies of forms from diverse geographical locales along the coasts and rivers of Western Africa!  See particularly "Migration Patterns" on page 10 and "The Kru Connection" on page 11 of the linked on-line version.  One can also access the article in African Arts Volume XXXV, Number 1 (Spring, 2002).  Swim fast, don't doggie paddle to this article!  For inspiration, see Lot 104 -- Ijo Fish Headcrest (below)... and then start thinking about Bidjogo, Mami Wata,... and the warming Atlantic!  There is no law against reading while in your canoe.


      On Apr 28, 2008, at 6:03 PM, RAND (www.RandAfricanArt.com) wrote:

      Hi group -
      I've been away from the group for a long time because I've needed to focus my time and energy on other things but I'm looking forward to becoming more active again now that things have finally started to settle down for me now.
      I was happy to see that we're now at 500+ members in the group since it was launched in March of 2005!
      May is an especially busy month in New York City in the Tribal art market...
      In addition to the Bonhams & Butterfields auction that Lee posted a message about that is taking place on May 15th, Sotheby's is holding their spring auction on May 16th and the New York Tribal and Textile Arts Show opens on May 15th with a preview gala on the 14th.
      The catalog for the Sotheby's spring auction on May 16th is now available online:
      Of special interest to me were the group of African objects being offered from the Bareiss Family Collection (31 in total), especially the East African objects being offered from the collection. The collection was published in the book "Kilenjgi: African Art from the Bareiss Family Collection". Overall I thought the auction had a lot of nice examples of various types of objects and they've done a nice job with the descriptions on a lot of objects.
      Featured in the auction is a 'Magnificent and Highly Important Baga Serpent" (lot 58, estimate $1.5 - 2 million USD) that was collected in situ by art dealers Hélène& Henri Kamer in 1957. (Hélène Kamer later married Philippe Leloup and is more widely recognized by the name Hélène Leloup with galleries in Paris and NYC). It stated in the auction listing that several of the other Baga serpents the Kamer's collected during this trip are now in the collections of the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Menil Foundation in Houston.
      This particular object was sold in 1961 to art dealer Pierre Matisse (son of Henri Matisse) and exhibited in his gallery in NYC. It is credited as being an inspirational object to artists of the 60's.
      It states in the press release - "Here (meaning Matisse's gallery), the possibility exists that the artists may have seen the Baga Serpent on view at Matisse and responded to it". "Specifically, the exhibition of the Baga Serpent in Matisse's gallery may have had an influence on the creation of Alexander Calder's 'Short Lipped Snake' from 1973."
      As many people in the group may remember, the Bamun headcrest from the Sotheby's auction last May from the Stanoff collection also had a link to modern artists of it's life after collection through only a splash of paint that linked it to being in Vlaminck's studio, where it was also likely seen by Picasso.
      For those of you who are interested in reading about this type of connection, message 2180 in the group will give you some of the background of that object along with the following dialog from the group:
      With speci! al interest to a message from John Monroe to the group that talks about this relationship in more depth which I found especially interesting.
      Message 2187 by John Monroe:
      The 14th annual New York Tribal and Textile Arts Show kicks off on Wednesday May 14th with a sneak preview from 6-9PM. The show runs from May 15-18th in a new location this year, Gramercy Park Armory.
      The special exhibition this year is called "Cameroon 1931-1934: Photography of Paul Gebauer". Paul Gebauer has written several books on the art of Cameroon. The exhibition is curated by Jonathan Fogel (Tribal Magazine) and an article writte! n by Jonathan Fogel will be published in the show catalog.
      For those of you who have never been, the Tribal arts shows like this are a fantastic place to meet dealers from around the world and you get to see and examine lots of great Tribal art all in one place.
      Exhibitions in New York City in May -
      "Artwork/Artplay: African Gameboards" - opend Aprill 22nd and runs through May. MORE INFORMATION
      For those in Europe, BRUNEAF (Brussels non European Art Fair) is coming up soon as well, it takes place June 4-8.
      Christie's and Sotheby's are also holding back to back auctions in Paris in June. The Sotheby's auction is June 11th and the Christie's auction is June 10th.

      Begin forwarded message:

      Date: April 29, 2008 4:59:16 PM EDT
      Subject: Re: YORUBA and African Arts... George Harley

      Thanks for your note...

      Yes; the Mano mask is interesting; in-fact; the entire Sotheby's sale is quite good...   I am interested in Harley material because I have a full sized Dan mask with rare headress field collected by Harley before 1956 and a wonderful little passport mask that was acquired from Harley's widow in 1977; but collected in 1951...  

      So I have some vested interest.. :)

      Thanks again,


      Need a new ride? Check out the largest site for U.S. used car listings at AOL Autos.
    • Show all 5 messages in this topic