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Re: [African_Arts] Re: New Member & Opinions

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  • Aaron Weston
    Gary, I will put it simply, anyone who has walked the walk and can prove it, I will listen, when they talk the talk! Have you ever noticed, many who call
    Message 1 of 38 , Mar 28, 2010
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      Gary,
      I will put it simply, anyone who has walked the walk and can prove it, I will listen, when they talk the talk! Have you ever noticed, many who call themselves "Experts" will hardly ever say "I don't know"!

      Felix

      --- On Sun, 3/28/10, rpearsonpe <rpearsonpe@...> wrote:

      From: rpearsonpe <rpearsonpe@...>
      Subject: [African_Arts] Re: New Member & Opinions
      To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Sunday, March 28, 2010, 12:48 PM

       

      Felix
      This is an excellent definition of an 'Expert', especially since it strengthens my opinion that most people who call themselves 'Expert' are such in a very narrow area, not in most or all African Tribal Art.
      So, if an non-African did what you have described, would that make the observer/researcher an 'Expert' in that limited area ? If true, we could justly classify what a person is expert in; then all their other opinions in Tribal Art would be the opinion of an interested and educated person. But not an 'Expert' opinion.
      Note: from your self description, you would fall under the 'interested and educated person' and worth listening to.
      My experience with 'Experts' here in Colorado is there are very few, they are too busy to speak with individual collectors, and they have the bad habit of trying or wanting to be an 'Expert' on everything.- --

      In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, Aaron Weston <impex7@...> wrote:
      >
      > Gary,
      >
      > I can ask you the same question, who are the experts on African Art outside of Africa? Now, let me give you an answer to your question. If you visit any village having a tradition of ritual or ceremonial use of mask, statues..... etc. Speak with the village Elder or Leader, Senior Carver, or Senior members of the most powerful Society in the village, you'll find Experts in the art of that particular village. One cannot be an expert on African Art without knowing everything about a particular item, which includes how the material for an object is chosen, what is done and said by the Carver before, during and after the creative process, how long the process takes....etc. When, where and how the object is used, who's allowed to use the piece, who's allowed to observe the object being used, how long the piece should and will be danced etc......... When and why an item can be decommissioned and who makes that decision. This is just what I've learned about the
      > process, I'm sure there's probably more!
      >
      > Felix  
      >
      > --- On Sun, 3/28/10, GARYGLS2000@ ... <GARYGLS2000@ ...> wrote:
      >
      > From: GARYGLS2000@ ... <GARYGLS2000@ ...>
      > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: New Member & Opinions
      > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com
      > Date: Sunday, March 28, 2010, 12:20 AM
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >  
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Felix, who are the experts on African art in Africa?
      >  
      > Gary Schulze
      >  
      >
      > In a message dated 3/27/2010 9:58:35 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
      > impex7@yahoo. com writes:
      >  
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Outside of Africa, there are only a hand full of people
      > in the world who can be considered EXPERTS in African Art! And most
      > members of this group will never be able to spend enough time with them
      > to make a major difference in their knowledge of the
      > Art.
      >
      > FELIX
      >
      > --- On Sat, 3/27/10, spric1h
      > <sprice@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      > From:
      > spric1h <sprice@...>
      > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: New
      > Member & Opinions
      > To:
      > African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com
      > Date: Saturday, March 27,
      > 2010, 6:04 AM
      >
      >
      >  
      >
      >
      >
      > Hi
      >
      > I never used the word "expert", for exactly the
      > reasons you expressed.
      >
      > "Appropriately educated mentor" is an
      > expert, but usually doesn't call himself/herself that and will always
      > recognize the limits of his expertise. There are many ways somebody
      > can reach that status. Here are a few of them:
      > 1. Someone who has
      > handled or seen a great many documented pieces in museum collections.
      > This group includes curators of African collections in most major
      > museums as well as some others. Most will be glad to give you their
      > opinions, although they don't give appraisals.
      > 2. Dealers and/or
      > collectors who have handled or seen a great many documented pieces in
      > private collections or in the field. Not all can be trusted to tell
      > you the truth, but if you can establish relationships with a few of
      > them you should treasure those relationships.
      > 3. Dealers and/or
      > collectors who have been mentored by those in either (or both) of the
      > previous two categories.
      >
      > Handling or seeing thousands of pieces
      > that are undocumented can't possibly teach you how to recognize
      > "authentic" pieces unless an appropriately educated mentor gives you
      > the benefit of his opinions of them and (very important) shows you the
      > bases of those opinions. After that, of course, you may be in category
      > 3 yourself.
      >
      > Regards
      >
      > Steve Price
      >
      > --- In African_Arts@
      > yahoogroups. com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@ ...>
      > wrote:
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > --- In African_Arts@
      > yahoogroups. com, "spric1h" <sprice@> wrote:
      > >
      > >
      > > > "and without an appropriately educated mentor" is
      > the unsolveable problem. Who was Mentor # 0 ??
      > > Definition of
      > an 'Expert': "Someone who is right more times than they are wrong". I
      > have met and known a number of collectors who believe they are
      > knowledgeable and/or expert in some tribal areas, but have discovered
      > anyone calling him or herself an expert is to be believed with
      > caution. Any 'expert' who reacts violently if his/her opinon or
      > pronouncement is questioned is trying to bully their way into being
      > the 'expert'. The most knowledgeable person I know, while expressing
      > his opinion, is not worried by saying "I do not know".
      > > If you
      > find mentors or experts who are willing to venture their expertise on
      > photos, please list them and I will happily send them items to venture
      > an expert guess.
      > > BTW, go back to a very early posting(s) # 331
      > & # 364; experts can be fooled and the higher the profit=the
      > better the fake. Again just my opinion.
      > > And I know nothing
      > about carpets, have several excellent books on carpets, own a few
      > considered good by my local expert, and do not collect carpets (unless
      > they are low priced or flying).>
      > > >
      > > >
      >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Hi
      > > >
      > >
      > > I have only one nit to pick with what you wrote:
      > > >
      > "Having looked at and touched probably 5000-8000 pieces (ebay &
      > Runners), I believe I have developed a "feel" for tourist vs 'Made For
      > The Trade' vs "reasonably authentic"."
      > > >
      > > >
      > This is, in my opinion, the most widespread misconception in the world
      > of tribal arts and the (closely related) world of oriental rugs.
      > Unless you've seen/handled large numbers of pieces of known (=
      > documented) authenticity or been taught by someone who has, it's
      > impossible to learn what's authentic and what isn't. The argument I
      > encounter from rug and tribal art dealers and collectors is, "I've
      > handled thousands of oieces, so I can tell." That's like thinking that
      > if he had been locked in a room with thousands of books written
      > entirely in Mandarin, none with a word of any other language or
      > illustrations of any kind and without an appropriately educated
      > mentor, he'd be able to read Mandarin.
      > > >
      > > >
      > Apart from that, we share the same neurosis.
      > > >
      > >
      > > Regards
      > > >
      > > > Steve Price
      > > >
      >
      > > >
      > > > --- In African_Arts@
      > yahoogroups. com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@ > wrote:
      > >
      > > >
      > > > > As a late comer to this group, I have been
      > playing catchup by reading the first 500 of the posted messages, and
      > the recent messages. But I have not noticed anyone adding their
      > background to provide a level of expertise and trust for their
      > personal posts. Plus it is difficult to find a grouping of a single
      > subject; witness the 5000 postings.
      > > > > Here's my
      > background:
      > > > > I started collection tribal art with
      > Mexican Dance masks around 1985, but went into African based on an
      > exhibition in Denver and a fellow and his wife (not African) who
      > traveled the country selling good tourist and occasionally good
      > 'authentic' pieces. Since then I have bought from numerous Runners,
      > Ebay, fellow collectors, auctions, and an occasional gallery.
      > >
      > > > An early book on collectors stated a 'collection' is less
      > than 100 pieces. If so I have passed the 'collector' status and become
      > an 'accumulator' with 1000-3000 pieces, large (Bongo) to small (gold
      > weights). The basement is full of moving boxes stacked two deep, the
      > early pieces are on display, some in the garage, and now a storage
      > locker. At this point I honestly have no idea of what all I have
      > 'accumulated' . Someday the "Mother of All Sales".
      > > > >
      > Having looked at and touched probably 5000-8000 pieces (ebay &
      > Runners), I believe I have developed a "feel" for tourist vs 'Made For
      > The Trade' vs "reasonably authentic". Thus I feel confident in
      > expressing "personal opinions" which anyone and everyone is free to
      > disagree with. I will not take disagreement as an insult or a
      > challenge to a duel.
      > > > > First: I am a pessimist. I
      > believe there is very little "authentic" African Tribal Art, based on
      > the correct tribe/purpose/ use/age/ etc, on the market for collectors
      > spending less than mid five figures minimum. What we find, buy, and
      > collect are new pieces made and aged by Africans knowing what the
      > average collector wants (old, authentic, used). The more profit, the
      > better the enhancement of the piece, including sweat marks, raffia
      > holes, signs of use, etc. At the mid four figures, if the piece is
      > 'minor', it may be authentic. It may also be an overpriced, new,
      > nicely enhanced piece. The only piece 100 years old includes the 99
      > years it took the tree to grow. So much for old.
      > > > >
      > Second: Who cares. A well carved, enhanced piece with all the
      > indicators of 'old/used/authentic ' meets my criteria for collecting.
      > I buy pieces that would fool most if not all (including myself)
      > collectors, but I pay three figures or very low four figures, and thus
      > do not feel quite as bad if a fellow collector points out why it is
      > 'new and enhanced' (note I rarely use 'faked' unless a 'trusted runner
      > or dealer' knowingly sells an item knowing the 'provenance' is a total
      > prevarication) .
      > > > > Third: For people sending in a
      > photo or photos of a piece asking for identification, age, or value,
      > please take any response as a 'best guess/opinion' . Identification
      > from a photo is possible but not exact. Age and use from a photo(s) is
      > a wild guess, you really need to handle the piece to make a decent
      > 'guess' as to age and/or use. Value is 'whatever you paid for the
      > piece'. The next higher 'value' is the BFT, or Bigger Fool Theory, or
      > what a 'Bigger Fool' is willing to pay for the piece. Never assume you
      > have by accident bought the looted masterpiece from an African Museum
      > for $99. If you ever believe this, I know a Nigerian Prince who needs
      > a small check and your bank account number to send you
      > millions.
      > > > > Last (for the moment): This site is
      > invaluable for old & new collectors, experts, and novices to share
      > and inquire. Rand/Rubinstein are to be congratulated. I have submitted
      > a few posts before this (the Bongo), and hope to continue, c/w photos.
      > Please note: if think my pieces are new, enhanced, or fake-say so and
      > why.
      > > > > I prefer honesty to collectors or experts
      > blowing smoke up my lower regions.
      > > > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      >


    • Ed Jones
      Khan, Sorry for the dalay, I have been traveling the past few days. The history of Zimbabwe is particularly interesting especially with the Luba and similiar
      Message 38 of 38 , Apr 2, 2010
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        Khan,
        Sorry for the dalay, I have been traveling the past few days.
        The history of Zimbabwe is particularly interesting especially with the Luba and similiar tribal affiliations (Zimba, etc).  
         
        ... You mind if you could tell me the price for such a piece that isn't too old but authentic?  The price for my stool was expensive, but all things considering, I think well worth the investment cost.
        Ed

         

        From: afrikhantiques <khankey@...>
        To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Wed, March 31, 2010 10:13:22 AM
        Subject: [African_Arts] Re: New Member & Opinions

         

        Ed,
        That's really interesting considering the current Zimbabwe political situations and the vast history of Zimbabwe itself. You mind if you could tell me the price for such a piece that isn't too old but authentic?
        Khan

        --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, Ed Jones <bucit@...> wrote:
        >
        > Khan,
        >  
        > You certainly possess an inquisitive mind and eye (also a "good eye" equally... This carving and detail is striking !!  Yes, albeit, this stool is estimated about 25 years old or so (as assumed by the gallery I purchased it from), it is perhaps "one of the finest carvings of the sort that I have purchased.  Carved from a dense, heavy wood with very good patina.  It does have stress fractures (cracks) located on both sides of the stool seat from use.  The seat patina also appears to have consistent evidence of "usage".
        >  
        > It is believed to initially be a derivative of potentially Chewa, maybe a hint of Chokwe, but more.   It was personally sold to the Gallery owner (my absolute favorite) as Zimba.  As she researched Zimba, she discovered it did not exist!  Further detailed and comprehensive research lead her to George Peter Murdock's' book. "Africa,  It's people and culture" (1959).
        > The tribal map of Africa included showed the Zimba people (near Zimbabwe as we know it today).  What a fantastic discovery !  
        > Furthermore, a similar Stool can be found in the book "Africa' The Art Of A Continent", edited by Tom Phillips... the photo is shown on page 286 and is identified as Luba/Maniema?
        >  
        > It is a beautiful piece and I have only seen one other located in a Seattle Gallery (if it is still there). 
        >  
        > More to come... I'll up-load additional photos of the piece to by folder shortly
        >
        >
        > .
        >  
        > Ed
        >
        >  
        >
        >
        >
        > ____________ _________ _________ __
        > From: afrikhantiques <khankey@... >
        > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com
        > Sent: Sat, March 27, 2010 10:45:37 PM
        > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: New Member & Opinions
        >
        >  
        > Ed,
        > I think a good example for the evolution of African art you are talking about is the Zimba Caryatid Stool you own (in your photo album). You said the piece is quite new but you have detailed information about the tribe and region of the piece. I find this intriguing as, from my personal experience, it is difficult to find newer pieces with the quality, detail and most importantly originality of your stool. I don't know if your piece was made for a stool to be used in the village or was just made as a piece of art - regardless of what it has been made for, its a beautiful piece and to find that kind of originality again is really difficult. I personally know some really good African carvers/artists but for them to produce an original, creative, yet still true to the African style (with minimum Western influence) is rare (impossible) as they can only copy the older style.
        > Does this mean that the creativity of true African art has greatly been stunted due to the over-value of the old tribal pieces? Contemporary master carvers only copy old pieces rather than create originals because that is where the market and money is. Further, when I visit contemporary African art galleries, it is clear that African artists made pieces that solely try to please the tourists or the "western eye".
        > Anyway, I really like that Zimba Caryatid you own and hope you could tell me in more detail about it.
        > Thanks,
        > Khan
        >
        > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, Ed Jones <bucit@> wrote:
        > >
        > > Khan,
        > >  
        > > I have a deep interest and welcome the opinions and experiences of individuals, particularly "Africans", which share a common passion of the "arts" of Africa. There is certainly not enough of this... Which I (think) and see is endemic and problematic to the prevailing attitudes and many of the homogeneous biases surrounding much of what is typically referenced and believed today. 
        > >  
        > > I am a "Black or dark skinned" American, without the attachment to African culture/sub- culture aside my experiences having traveled to six of the countries on business...Nairobi, Kenya was one of them.  The various cultures and ethnic groups on that continent spans the globe!  It is also quite true, "most "Black Americans" have absolutely no relations (aside from DNA traces, perhaps as man-kind alike).   I recently spent 3 months on a business trip in Stockholm, Sweden and the same holds true there as well.  The common profile of Scandinavian blonde hair and blue eyes is anything except a majority (lol).
        > >  
        > > The earth and entire planet is evolving. and "art" and ethnographic will certainly reflect these changes as people creatively express life as the know and appreciate it. 
        > >  
        > > I look forward and anticipate reading your contributions to the group!
        > > Ed
        > >  
        > >
        > >
        > > From: afrikhantiques <khankey@ >
        > > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com
        > > Sent: Fri, March 26, 2010 1:37:45 PM
        > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: New Member & Opinions
        > >
        > >  
        > > I just joined this group recently (2 weeks ago). Been reading past and recent posts for just 2 weeks and its absolute ingenious. From comments about all the major auctions to personal pieces from people in the group - its just truly amazing. Big ups for RAND and Lee and of course every1 in this group!!
        > > As for the evolution of African art I agree 100% as there are still true master carvers (copiers) of African Tribal Art today.
        > > Ed I also find what you said about a white person growing up in Cape Town has a "truer" African culture than a black American who grew up in the States interesting - as I am a South Korean who grew up in Nairobi for 20 years then moved to study in New York University and lived in Harlem quite ironic. And I could proudly say I have a truer African culture than the 90% of blacks living in Harlem.
        > > Khan
        > >
        > > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, Ed Jones <bucit@> wrote:
        > > >
        > > >  "Rpearsonpe" et al;
        > > >
        > > > ...I believe there is very little "authentic" African Tribal Art, based on the correct tribe/purpose/ use/age/ etc, on the market for collectors spending less than mid five figures minimum.
        > > >  
        > > > Interesting perspectives, of which I would be inclined to would agree.  However, when it comes to the argument/debate/ opinion (what-ever) about what is deemed authentic, I would disagree.  Evolution and change is a part of life...Like it or not and whether is is considered "quality" or rubbish, irrespective of the nobleman or experienced.  The same can be said for carpets, kilims or textiles alike.
        > > >  
        > > > I'm just another admirer of "genuine" or authentic relics which simply catch my eye and that I can afford.  Perhaps, not much of original origin exists.  Sometimes, I/we become lucky or fortunate, unless we have the funds where-with to pay (deep pockets).
        > > >  
        > > > The "authentic" argument is getting ridiculously worn or silly.  Who has the right to truly say?  If a Mercedes is made in Mississippi, is it still European "authentic" quality and craftsmanship?   Of course not, but in reputation, name (and price). LOL !   Or, did the Mercedes evolve and become different or improved for the times, styles and social classes (economics) ?  Of course it did. 
        > > >  
        > > > How about a "Black" person borne in San Fransisco... Are they truly an African American?  Interestingly enough, a "White" person borne in Cape Town --- migrating to the US on the path of citizenship is an "authentic" African culture (or should I say of an African sub-culture)  in essence than any Black American.  Case in point.
        > > >  
        > > > We should not be fast to dismiss (without consideration) to programming, institutionalizing  and references of "learning" that one might gather and obtain  "experience" by.  It does not make it the rule or standard.judge by.   AFRICA HAS THE RIGHT TO EVOLVE ALSO!
        > > >  
        > > > Ed  
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > > > ____________ _________ _________ __
        > > > From: Bob Ibold <bob.ibold@ ..>
        > > > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com
        > > > Sent: Thu, March 25, 2010 7:29:26 AM
        > > > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] New Member & Opinions
        > > >
        > > >  
        > > > Rpearsonpe,
        > > > Thanks for your comments. I agree with everything you wrote.
        > > > As one of the few generalists in African_Arts (I deal with all cultures that have a tradition of masquerade) my perspective is different than that of most members. The subject you deal with-- Tourist vs Made For The Trade vs Reasonably Authentic-- should indeed be important to the group. Africa leads the traditional art world in both quantity and quality of its reproductions. .. by at least a factor of ten!
        > > > Bob
        > > > MasksoftheWorld. com
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > > > At 03:54 PM 3/24/2010, you wrote:
        > > >
        > > >  
        > > > >
        > > > >As a late comer to this group, I have been playing catchup by reading the first 500 of the posted messages, and the recent messages. But I have not noticed anyone adding their background to provide a level of expertise and trust for their personal posts. Plus it is difficult to find a grouping of a single subject; witness the 5000 postings.
        > > > >Here's my background:
        > > > >I started collection tribal art with Mexican Dance masks around 1985, but went into African based on an exhibition in Denver and a fellow and his wife (not African) who traveled the country selling good tourist and occasionally good 'authentic' pieces. Since then I have bought from numerous Runners, Ebay, fellow collectors, auctions, and an occasional gallery.
        > > > >An early book on collectors stated a 'collection' is less than 100 pieces. If so I have passed the 'collector' status and become an 'accumulator' with 1000-3000 pieces, large (Bongo) to small (gold weights). The basement is full of moving boxes stacked two deep, the early pieces are on display, some in the garage, and now a storage locker. At this point I honestly have no idea of what all I have 'accumulated' . Someday the "Mother of All Sales".
        > > > >Having looked at and touched probably 5000-8000 pieces (ebay & Runners), I believe I have developed a "feel" for tourist vs 'Made For The Trade' vs "reasonably authentic". Thus I feel confident in expressing "personal opinions" which anyone and everyone is free to disagree with. I will not take disagreement as an insult or a challenge to a duel.
        > > > >First: I am a pessimist. I believe there is very little "authentic" African Tribal Art, based on the correct tribe/purpose/ use/age/ etc, on the market for collectors spending less than mid five figures minimum. What we find, buy, and collect are new pieces made and aged by Africans knowing what the average collector wants (old, authentic, used). The more profit, the better the enhancement of the piece, including sweat marks, raffia holes, signs of use, etc. At the mid four figures, if the piece is 'minor', it may be authentic. It may also be an overpriced, new, nicely enhanced piece. The only piece 100 years old includes the 99 years it took the tree to grow. So much for old.
        > > > >Second: Who cares. A well carved, enhanced piece with all the indicators of 'old/used/authentic ' meets my criteria for collecting. I buy pieces that would fool most if not all (including myself) collectors, but I pay three figures or very low four figures, and thus do not feel quite as bad if a fellow collector points out why it is 'new and enhanced' (note I rarely use 'faked' unless a 'trusted runner or dealer' knowingly sells an item knowing the 'provenance' is a total prevarication) .
        > > > >Third: For people sending in a photo or photos of a piece asking for identification, age, or value, please take any response as a 'best guess/opinion' . Identification from a photo is possible but not exact. Age and use from a photo(s) is a wild guess, you really need to handle the piece to make a decent 'guess' as to age and/or use. Value is 'whatever you paid for the piece'. The next higher 'value' is the BFT, or Bigger Fool Theory, or what a 'Bigger Fool' is willing to pay for the piece. Never assume you have by accident bought the looted masterpiece from an African Museum for $99. If you ever believe this, I know a Nigerian Prince who needs a small check and your bank account number to send you millions.
        > > > >Last (for the moment): This site is invaluable for old & new collectors, experts, and novices to share and inquire. Rand/Rubinstein are to be congratulated. I have submitted a few posts before this (the Bongo), and hope to continue, c/w photos. Please note: if think my pieces are new, enhanced, or fake-say so and why.
        > > > >I prefer honesty to collectors or experts blowing smoke up my lower regions.
        > > > >
        > > > >
        > > > >
        > > > >No virus found in this incoming message.
        > > > >Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
        > > > >Version: 9.0.791 / Virus Database: 271.1.1/2769 - Release Date: 03/25/10 03:33:00
        > > >
        > >
        >


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