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Re:Collecting and understanding African art

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  • RPearsonpe@aol.com
    I might add: 1. Keep track of any and all Provenance of an item, preferably in writing. At least your notes . 2. Develop some sort of filing system so
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2012
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      I might add:
      1. Keep track of any and all "Provenance" of an item, preferably in writing. At least your 'notes'.
      2. Develop some sort of 'filing system' so each piece in your eventual collection/accumulation is a 'when/where/how.why/how much' retrievable data.
      3. Don't pass on a piece just because it is 'new'. Many/most tribal pieces have 'enhanced' age.
      4. If it is "too good to be true", it probably isn't, but now and then you will find a treasure.
      5. Try to avoid cleaning anything. If repairing a cracked or broken piece, use adhesive sparingly and inside the crack-you do not want glue squeezing out of the piece.
      6. Sources of pieces, priced low to high: Runners, Auctions, Galleries, Individuals. If you meet an African Runner, ask him/her to share your interest with other Runners. My favorite auction is Arte Primitivo. My favorite Gallery is Hamill (and a great source of data).
      7. Books are the best and lowest priced way of understanding tribal art (but library's will have natta).
      8. Remember-unless you intend on a 'Viking Funeral', someday you will need to divest your collection.
      Lastly, share your knowledge, collection pieces, rare finds, and mistakes with the group.
      Just my opinion.
      In a message dated 11/2/2012 7:35:12 A.M. Mountain Daylight Time, ann@... writes:

      Ed's advice is perfect. Collecting and understanding African art comes down to:
      See and like.
      Research the tribes and culture, their style, reason or function and purpose.
      Study the form, construction and style along with the carvers artistic skill.
      Experience. We all look at our early purchases. Maybe they still have appeal because they drew us to the attraction in African art in the beginning or we were lucky and found a gem that us to expand a growing interest in African art forms but otherwise we see them as follies and then the time comes to rationalise our collection, free cash for the items we can afford as well as items that please our more mature, knowledgeable and experienced palate.
      It is an amazing journey and well worth the time and passion.

      Enjoy your journey

      Ann Porteus
      Sidewalk Tribal Gallery 
      Tel: +61414340331
      Fax: +61362240331
      Office: +61362240331

      On 30/10/2012, at 11:25 AM, Ed Jones <bucit@...> wrote:


      You are welcomed.  May I also suggest, as one that sincerely appreciates wood craft, I have a few personal and basic tenets that I consider when it comes to collecting African art forms;;
      1.  Consider the wood.  Developed and skillful African artists have an affinity for wood.  This means they understand the grain, density, etc and know how to work with it based upon what it is they seek to fashion.  Wood was not simply randomly selected without thought or consideration of the "once living" organism.  This applies for newer market carvings as well as old(er) relics.
      2.  Reference and identify.  Become familiar with lines, curves, expressions and peculiarities of a subject tribe or clan's attributions.  This means it is helpful to discover and learn certain societal and cultural "codes" of a subject tribe or clan.  In fact, making comparisons and spanning various time-lines in comparison of similar objects can be (somewhat) helpful when assessing a piece, AND attributing an object's estimated age... Typically (not in every case), there will be obvious evolutionary changes with stylized fashion, size, color / patina, symbols, expressions, hair styles, scarification's, etc.  The point being, one must immerse themselves in some form of research and study.  This would also en tell the purchase of books and balancing what the western world implies against the importance of "black" African experts.  Otherwise, the term "enthusiast" would not apply, or how else should one know?
      I can tell you that Africans like to touch personal figures as such.. And Blolo Blian (spirit mates) ARE indeed objects with a persona that needed to he led, anointed and cared for.  One should expect to see evidence of oil with a beautiful patina over time -- not a caked up stain, libations or an encrustation on such objects (or costume clothing).  If it were to be condemned, it was destroyed via an affiliated tribal custom.  Additionally, Africans were also not ashamed of the human body, so covering and hiding it is a western/ Euro centrist notion.
      3.  Determine YOUR personal value.  This is an important step, but I certainly do not consider it the principle one;  do not become swayed or lead my market trends, fashions, popularity or anything else... Especially, assumed "worth".  This market, as with other forms of art is highly subjective.  Because a notoriously "high-end" auction house or dealer displays an item with an auction price of $8500 does not mean much of anything.  The true (rhetorical) question becomes, what is the objects worth or merit to you?  Too many people are swept away and caught up with the "groupie syndrome".  It can become "cliquish", political, and famous names trump and wrestle with pedigree/provenance, as this becomes the ultimate motivation and driver --- not the carvers delineated skills and aesthetic form he invented, or why the object may have been invented.  Who really cares so much, because the perspective has become somewhat chaotic?   
      Of course, we would all prefer to have the "best" our money can allot us.  There are wonderfully carved newer market pieces with an expressed value just as there are old relics of value.  
      Basically, it is your "eye" (predicated upon how you have developed it) that will allow your voice to speak to you.  Then one will be sure about a certain piece and it's value.
      With sincere hopes, and all the best with future art endeavors.
      From: africamorkarla <morkarla@...>
      To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Monday, October 29, 2012 2:41 PM
      Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Is this a Blolo Blian figure?
      Thank you Ed, now I know.

      Joseph Anderson - It´s 39 cm tall.

      Kind Regards

      Mikael Löwe

      --- In mailto:African_Arts%40yahoogroups.com, Ed Jones <bucit@...> wrote:
      > It may be (self) helpful to consider relative and known examples of Baule "blolo" / "blian" carvings available via many resources, and consider your figure... Especially the facial features and stylized characteristics.  The "diaper" loin-cloth on yours is rather telling. 
      > Ed
      > From: africamorkarla <morkarla@...>
      > To: mailto:African_Arts%40yahoogroups.com
      > Sent: Saturday, October 27, 2012 8:40 AM
      > Subject: [African_Arts] Is this a Blolo Blian figure?
      > Hello.
      > I bought this Baule figure at an auction this year in Sweden, it was just one
      > of about many items from a rather big collection that the former owner had
      > collected in Africa in the 1920-1940´s.
      > At the auction the figure was called Baule sculpture.
      > I really don´t know anything about Baule figures and the reason I bought
      > it was that i liked the expression of the face.
      > I been searching for information about Baule figures but I haven´t been
      > abel to find a similar item.
      > My question is can this be Blolo Blian figure?
      > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/1886551390/pic/422350110/view
      > Kind Regards
      > Mikael ¶we


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