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Re: [African_Arts] Re: I have been asked to identify and estimate value of th...

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  • LRubinstein@post.harvard.edu
    Dear Margalit: I hope I haven t led you astray with my comments but I tried at least to share that which I can currently perceive. I should note that it is
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2006
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      Dear Margalit:
      I hope I haven't led you astray with my comments but I tried at least to share that which I can currently perceive.  I should note that it is entirely possible that the origin of the mask that I indicated was likely a Tanzanian hybrid may be from elsewhere in Tanzania (i.e., other than Makonde-Sukuma) or even from the broader region which includes Malawi and Mozambique. One unsettling element about the group of works that struck me is the consistency of quality (or lack thereof) across a broad range of origins.  Knowing the collection history would be helpful, as I can't help but wonder whether the works as a body represented  the preference of the collector or, rather, the acquisition of disparate objects through -- or perhaps even production by -- a common source.
      More generally, I think it is also worth noting that although the quality of the works presented seems generally poor from a standpoint of craftsmanship and aesthetics, many earlier collected examples that one can view in older books and in some museum databases (particularly ethnographic) often fall well outside of the range of carving skill  and aesthetic excellence within which the market and museum examples seem to be located.  Perhaps what we are able to see -- and thus the range of objects to which we are able to compare -- is highly conditioned by the movement toward the consideration of cultural objects as art and by the corollary censoring of works put on public display in order to make the available works correspond more with aesthetic expectations rather than cultural authenticity.  (Your Dogon multi-figure altar piece that reappeared in the Dintenfass auction was a good example of how objects may be manipulated to fulfill desire rather than truth!) 
      I'm sorry I wasn't able to look more closely at the Irian Jaya or Southern African figure more closely but I cannot seem to access the image any longer. 
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