- Thanks Paul re: the zebra skin...turns out there s another one...the one I photographed already is in really good shape as far as I m concerned, though thereMessage 1 of 7 , Dec 5, 2006View SourceThanks Paul re: the zebra skin...turns out there's another one...the
one I photographed already is in really good shape as far as I'm
concerned, though there is a bit of writing on the underside (which is
soft and smooth otherwise), the purchaser's surname in the middle
somewhere and a couple of initials on the tale if I recall
correctly...anyway, thanks, looks like the skins might be the most
valuable pieces :p
and thank you very much Alex! that's just the sort of info I need, if
a bit depressing :)
- ... William: As the West-Sharpes article indicates, there exists a broad range of ideas regarding how to classify postcolonial and contemporary MakondeMessage 2 of 7 , Dec 5, 2006View Source
"Had the works of these sculptors not undergone creative transformations over the past century, their art would have become anachronistic--rendered meaningless, if not to consumers further afield, at least to the artists themselves and the communities in which they live."
-- excerpt from "Dealing with the Devil."William:As the West-Sharpes article indicates, there exists a broad range of ideas regarding how to classify postcolonial and contemporary Makonde sculpture in relation to the traditional production of Makonde carvers. Generally speaking, there remains considerable resistance to perceiving the continuities which link contemporary African artistic expressions to the traditional forms produced by members of the same societies in previous historical periods. Divergent attitudes about the relationship between traditional and contemporary art from across the African continent derive from Western definitions of what African art is supposed to be and whether more recent production which shows obvious, recognized signs of inter-continental culture contact is to be classified as "African" or "contemporary" as if the place ("Africa") and period ("contemporary") are incompatible. As societies and cultures change (as does the world in which they are situated) through time and contact, so change the images, forms and media of artistic expression. In looking at Africa from the outside, the divide between "traditional" and "contemporary" is, I think, overly emphasized while insufficient interest is applied toward understanding how the transformation of artistic expression is inevitable in any social context and the recognition that contemporary production does indeed exist as a continuum which extends from historical production while taking a different form as it arises in a markedly changed, globalized context.Among the most compelling instances wherein the integration of new media may fulfill indigenous requirements but fail to correspond with external expectations of, "the traditional" is the use of photographic images in place of carved figures, ibeji, to represent deceased twins among some Yoruba in Nigeria. Stephen Sprague's article, "Yoruba Photography: How the Yoruba See Themselves" -- published in African Arts Volume XII , Number 1(November, 1978) and in Photography's Other Histories (eds., Christopher Pinney and Nicolas Peterson. Durham: Duke University Press. 2003.) provides some fascinating insight into such an occurrence:
"The photograph is sometimes believed to possess additional power and spiritual meanings and can be used in traditional rituals... The most fascinating and widespread example is the integration of photography into the traditional beliefs and rituals surrounding twins. Because twins are sacred children with connections to the spirit world, it is especially important to show them proper respect. Photographs are often made of twins and other children to hang in the parlor with the photographs of other family members. Then, if a child dies, there is a portrait by which to remember him or her. The procedure becomes more complex when one twin dies before the photograph is taken. If the twins were of the same sex, the surviving twin is photographed alone, and the photographer prints the single negative twice, so that the twins appear to be sitting side by side in the final photograph. If the twins were of opposite sexes, the surviving twin is photographed once in male clothing and once in female clothing... the photographer attempts to conceal the line blending the two separate exposures in order to maintain the illusion of twins sitting together in a single photograph...
"The traditional procedure when a twin dies is is for the parents to commission the carving of a twin figure, or ibeji, which then participates in the twin ceremonies along with the living twin. In some areas, it is now accepted practice for the photograph to be substituted for the ibeji. This picture is then kept on the twin shrine and participates in the traditional ceremonies...
"The cycle of substitution can, on occasion, come full circle when both twins die before their pictures have been taken. Then, if the traditional ibeji are carved, these are sometimes photographed and the photo of the carvings is hung in the parlor in place of the usual twin photograph."
(AA (XII, 1), p. 57 and Finney and Peterson, pp. 252-254)************************************************Another element which affects the perception and valuation of the Makonde carvings is a possibly-weakening-but-still-persistent conservatism with regard to the areas from which collections draw their acquisitions. Eastern and Southern African works -- "traditional" and "contemporary" -- remain marginalized in the global market for African art although we do see increased offerings from these regions in the market. Still, the geographical footprint that outlines the core of Western collecting is remarkably similar now to that which persisted through the twentieth century. As much of the high-end market remains focused upon the redistribution of provenanced works from historically known collections, this follows logically (even though the ritual authenticity of earlier collected works is not necessarily confirmable through their date of collection...) There do exist exceptions, however, to this geographical conservatism in collecting: the Bareiss, Horstmann and Brenthurst collections, for instance, are recognized for their notable emphasis upon Eastern and Southern materials. However, that the particular regional emphases of these collections continues to be acknowledged as a salient characteristic highlights the relative uniqueness of the geographical composition of these prestigious collections.While the Yoruba photographic ibeji and the body of Makonde contemporary carvings are indeed markedly disparate instances, they do serve as examples which underline the definitional and valuative complexities introduced by societal and technological change and religious diversification throughout Africa especially when applied to the consideration of cultural objects as trade commodities. It is ironic indeed that there is apparent ease in accessing and treating African cultural objects commercially but significant distaste for the appearance within the works themselves of signs of the contact which has made them accessible -- contact without which the works would not be available at all on the global market. Perhaps as a new century -- and a new millennium -- have commenced, we will see a transformation toward inclusion of works from the broader continent and with a less strict division of pre- and postcolonial as if this distinction were synonymous with tradition and its purported absence.Specifically regarding the works you presented, I can't honestly say that I know what prices are being realized for contemporary Makonde works although there are clearly some who already perceive and/or attribute a significant cultural and/or artistic value in these works. (For instance, see http://www.malde.com/makonde/exhibitions.asp ) It should be noted though, that in the same way that "traditional" collections are broadening their geographical scope, so too have there been recent exhibitions and publications which focus upon and attribute value to contemporary artistic production by African and African Diaspora artists. Perhaps only through a deeper understanding of the processes and products of these contemporary African artists from Yoruba photographers to Makonde carvers may we progress toward a clearer idea of both the continuities and the discontinuities which characterize artistic production in Africa.****************************************************Also...As a timely note, the results for today's auction at Sotheby's (http://search.sothebys.com/jsps/live/event/EventDetail.jsp?event_id=28041) have been posted. The results for the South and East African works -- the final 10 of 136 African lots offered -- exhibit a range of results. (The three Gurage posts from Ethiopia failed to sell.)
BELLE ET RARE STATUETTE, SHEWA, MALAWI [A FINE AND RARE SHEWA FIGURE, MALAWI] 3,000—4,000 EUR Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 3,600 EUR
_________________________________________________LOT 224f - MASSUE, NORD NGUNI, AFRIQUE DU SUD [A NORTH NGUNI KNOBKERRIE, SOUTH AFRICA]300—400 EUR Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 240 EUR___________________________________________________LOT 225
APPUI-TÊTE, AFRIQUE DU SUD-EST [A SOUTHEAST AFRICAN HEADREST]
1,500—2,000 EUR Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 5,040 EUR (http://search.sothebys.com/jsps/live/lot/LotDetail.jsp?lot_id=159302801)
___________________________________________________________LOT 226BELLE CANNE D'APPARAT , AFRIQUE DU SUD-EST [A FINE SOUTHEAST AFRICAN PRESTIGE STAFF]12,000—15,000 EUR Failed to Sell_________________________________________________________LOT 227SUPERBE APPUI-TÊTE ZOOMORPHE, PROBABLEMENT TSONGA, AFRIQUE DU SUD-EST40,000—60,000 EUR Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 74,400 EUR__________________________________________________________
LOT 228QUATRE CUILLERS À PRISER EN OS, NORD NGUNI, AFRIQUE DU SUD [FOUR NORTH NGUNI BONE SNUFF SPOONS, SOUTH AFRICA] 2,000—3,000 EUR Failed to Sell.______________________________________________________________
LOT 229BELLE MATERNITÉ, AFRIQUE DU SUD-EST[ A FINE SOUTHEAST AFRICAN KNEELING MATERNITY FIGURE]10,000—15,000 EUR Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 6,000 EURAny thoughts???Lee