Catalogue online: The Jacqueline Loudmer Collection (Christies, Paris, 23 June 2016)

Jacqueline Loudmer Christie's 23 Juin 2016 Paris

I’m proud to announce my second catalogue for June: “Collection Jacqueline Loudmer – Succession Jacqueline Millodot”; you can browse it here. Besides 41 paintings and drawings (among which some important works by Fernand Léger), the sales holds 124 objects from Africa, Northern America and Oceania with provenances such as Beasley, Brandt, Degand, Dehondt, de Baillencourt, de Launoit, Friede, Furman, Gallibert, Harter, Hooper, Kerchache, Le Corneur, Loeb, Mazaraki, Mertens, Mestach, Meulendijk, Morigi, Ortiz, Perret, Pinto, Rassmussen, Ratton, Rockefeller, Schindler, Schoeller, Simpson, Tronche and Viot. Note that since it is an estate sale, the estimates are very modest in order to sell everything. Let the fact that there will be no reserve prices make it clear that we wish to find new owners for all objects 🙂

As we as well will offer the Emily Wingert estate during the various owners sale immediately following this auction (info), we will thus be selling the collections of two important female collectors of the 20th century. With the Bamana lady on the front of this catalogue, and the Luba-Shankadi cover girl for the various owners sale, it’s safe to say our two sales are all about women in African and Oceanic art. Jacqueline Loudmer, once married to Guy Loudmer (who organized several important African and Oceanic auctions in Paris in the 1970s), was a well know figure in the Paris art scene of the 1970s and 80s. Her personal collection, however, remained very private and features several great rediscoveries – but those I’ll let you discover yourself !

Jacqueline Loudmer Guy Christie's Paris african and oceanic art

An African statue on the cover of a French thriller

grange congo requiem vili figure art

One encounters African art in the strangest places; yesterday I was leaving Paris as I ran into this advertisement for the new book of Jean-Christophe Grange in Gare du Nord. On the front cover, I spotted a famous zoomorphic figure from the Democratic Republic of Congo. This Vili monkey figure was collected before 1884 and is currently in the collection of the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde (Leiden, The Netherlands) – see it in its full glory below. I haven’t read the book, but apparently the antagonist of this thriller is called l’Homme Clou (‘the nail man’).

Vili monkey figure. Height: 35 cm. Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Vili monkey figure. Height: 35 cm. Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden, The Netherlands.


“Masks of Central Africa” – a traveling exhibition in China

Masks of Central Africa Guandong

Great news from China. On April 29th 2016, a new exhibition about Congolese masks opened at the Guangdong Museum of Art in Canton. It is organized by Ethnic Art & Culture Ltd (Hong Kong) and curated by Marc Felix – who in the last decades has been doing a tremendous effort to stimulate and enlarge the appreciation of African art in China.

The show displays 120 Congolese masks from private collections, 15 with their complete costume, and 16 musical instruments that were used in masquerades (coming from Phoenix’s Musical instrument museum). Field photos from the RMCA Tervuren are displayed on the museum walls. You can see some installation shots here or here. The first weekend attracted 52,000 visitors, so it’s certainly a success story so far. The (free!) exhibition stays at the Guangdong Museum untill July 24th 2016 and will then travel:

  • August 2 till November 6, 2016 at the Nanjing Museum,
  • November 25 2016 till March 5, 2017 at the Gansu Provincial Museum,
  • March 24 till June 26 2017 at the Yunnan Provincial Museum,
  • July 7 till September 10 2017 at the Henan Museum.

There will be 2 catalogues of 352 pages in A4+ format, one in Chinese and one in English/French, containing 800 pictures. Twelve authors wrote essays for the catalogue: Viviane Baeke, David Binkley, Arthur Bourgeois, Kellim Brown, Rik Ceyssens, Pol-Pierre Gossiaux, Marc Leo Felix, Manuel Jordan, Constantine Petridis, Z. S. Strother, Julien Volper, and Pan Yanqin. The English/French edition of the catalogue will be for sale at Congo Gallery in Brussels during BRUNEAF.

Masks of Central Africa Marc Felix

Marc Felix was kind enough to send me some pictures from the installation in Guangdong.

Note that the local curator unfortunately took a bit of liberty with the exhibition's title.

Note that the local curator unfortunately took a bit of liberty with the exhibition’s title by adding a new main title.

Masks of Central Africa China Marc Felix exhibition 2

Masks of Central Africa China Marc Felix exhibition 3


Masks of Central Africa China Marc Felix exhibition 5

Masks of Central Africa China Marc Felix exhibition 6

Masks of Central Africa China Marc Felix exhibition 7

Masks of Central Africa China Marc Felix exhibition 8

My first auction catalogue online! (Christie’s, Paris, 23 June 2016)


I’m very proud to present my first auction catalogue for Christie’s, you can browse it here.


Christie's Paris 23 June 2016 Bruno Claessens African Art


So, now you know why it has been so quiet on the blog these last few weeks 🙂

The sale features an important selection of objects from the estate of Emily ‘Jazzy’ Wingert (1934-2015). Especially her Maori works are truly exceptional. Below the English translation of the catalogue note about Ms. Wingert:

“Stop the Bus!” : The Emily A. Wingert Collection of Oceanic and African Art

In the 1950’s, as a college student, Emily Wingert (1934-2015) was travelling downtown on the Third Avenue bus in Manhattan when she was struck by a window display of African art. She recalled calling out, “Stop the bus!”, because she was so captivated by what she saw that she had to have a closer look. It was the historic gallery of Julius Carlebach that changed the course of her life. The works of art left her hungry for more information, and she changed her major to anthropology at Columbia University.

She studied with renowned scholar, Paul Wingert, whom she would later marry. Together in 1962, they took a sort of honeymoon in the form of a year-long academic journey through the Pacific, with most of their time spent studying Maori art in New Zealand. It is surely the deep knowledge she gained during this time that eventually informed her important Maori acquisitions. That, along with her continuing passion for African and pre columbian art, inspired her to build an impressive collection.

Emily Wingert’s interests and talents were vast and varied, though. After Paul Wingert’s death in 1974, as the owner and CEO of Mark Ten Security in Montclair, she became one of New Jersey’s first female licensed private detectives. In 1988, she followed her passion for jazz and fine dining and created Trumpets, a jazz club and restaurant in Montclair. After 10 years, she sold Trumpets following a sudden and total hearing loss. Adjusting to her deafness, she joined an online discussion group known as the “Say What Club.” This organization became her new passion, and she helped lead a group of people who felt isolated DUE TO THEIR HEARING difficulties, into a mutually supportive community. As an early adopter of the Internet, Emily found that she could talk to people and regain some of the connectivity she had lost with her hearing.

Born into a collecting family, Emily Wingert, nevertheless, clearly was a woman ahead of her time and an original spirit. She would later describe her passion for collecting African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian art (in Vision, Montclair State College, Spring 1989): ‘Not only DO these pieces provide vibrant and exciting clues to the past, they are also great art forms that deserve as much of a place in the art world as works by Picasso or Matisse. I have donated works of art [to the Montclair State College Museum] with the hope that they will inspire others to study this art.’ Emily Wingert surely would be delighted to learn that the objects from her precious collection will come to enrich the lives of a new generation of collectors.

The ‘Stop the bus’ anecdote reminded me of the opening scene of Bell, Book and Candle (see it here), with features a recreation of Carlebach’s gallery in New York. Anyway, I’ll write more about our sale in the coming weeks. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you should have questions about any of our lots.

A sneak peek of “Evolution of Form” (Christie’s, New York, May 2016)

Evolution of Form Baule Leyden

A sneak peek (one day before anyone else!) of one of the rooms of our upcoming curated sale Evolution of Form. As you can see, our African and Oceanic masterpieces will be in good company – or is the other way around?! We have a 12-day viewing period at the Rockefeller Center (I’ll be there from the 7th). The dates:

Apr 30 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
May 1 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
May 2 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
May 3 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
May 4 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
May 5 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
May 6 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
May 7 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
May 8 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
May 9 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
May 10 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
May 11 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

The sale is on the 12th of May. You can find all info on Evolution of Form here. As we are celebrating Christie’s 250th anniversary this year, I can assure you everybody is even more than ever doing their utmost best to create two unforgettable weeks at our New York headquarters. As you can see, its not only the African and Oceanic art that will be of an outstanding quality. I hope to see you there!

Evolution of Form Modigliani

Evolution of Form Baule statue Ivory Coast Christie's May 2016

ps meanwhile in Paris, the cover lot for our June sale, a splendid Luba statue, is proving that African art definitely deserves the title of ‘fine art’ – being displayed with some amazing French antiquities during the viewing days of our Le goût Français sale.

Luba Shankadi figure Congo Le gout francais christies

Exactly 50 years ago today


As my boss Susan Kloman mailed me this morning: “Happy Helena Rubinstein day!” 🙂

Today marks the 50th birthday of the landmark sale of her collection of African and Oceanic art by New York’s Parke-Bernet Galleries Inc. 21 April 1966 will forever remain an important turning point in the worldwide appreciation of African and Oceanic art. The unprecedented prices paid for the objects from her collection would radically alter the commercial value of African art ever after. And, together with this sale, the provenance of an object would came to have an increasingly important influence on its value. We included a small tribute to her in the catalogue of our upcoming sale in New York.. (click on it to zoom)

Evolution of form Helena Rubinstein Christie's


You can see the full Evolution of Form catalogue here, it includes a fascinating Dan mask, described by yours truly, which can be seen on the below interior shot of Rubinstein’s Paris apartment below.


Helena Rubinstein’s apartment on boulevard Raspail, c. 1930. At right, the Rubinstein Dan mask. Photograph by Dora Maar.

Helena Rubinstein’s apartment on boulevard Raspail, c. 1930. At right, the Rubinstein Dan mask. On the left, a Brancusi. Photograph by Dora Maar.

Musée du Quai Branly to be renamed Musée Chirac

Musee Chirac quai branly

According to this article in the French newspaper Le Figaro, the Musée du Quai Branly’s name will officially be changed into “Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac” on 20 June 2016. It is a French custom for prestigious buildings such as museums to take their final name after the death of an important statesman (for example the Centre Pompidou). However, on the occasion of its tenth anniversary, the museum’s president Stéphane Martin has requested the French Ministry of Culture to already approve the renaming of the museum. On 21 June the museum will as well open an exhibition dedicated to Chirac, who was closely involved with the museum’s foundation, showing 150 objects that have a link with the former French president (info).

Abidjan’s Musée des Civilisations needs your support

Installation shot of the Musée de Côte d'Ivoire, Abidjan, in the 1970s. Photo by Bohumil Holas, courtesy of the Musée du quai Branly (PP0179800).

Installation shot of the Musée de Côte d’Ivoire, Abidjan, in the 1970s. Photo by Bohumil Holas, courtesy of the Musée du quai Branly (PP0179800).

Kenneth Cohen (a Fulbright Scholar of American and Museum Studies currently based in Ivory Coast) recently embarked on a praiseworthy mission: to build an online catalog of the collection of the Musée des Civilisations (MCCI) in Abidjan. This museum owns one of the largest uncatalogued art collections in West Africa, numbering some 15,000 objects.

As the museum continues to recover from raiding and damage during a civil war in 2010-2011, it is creating an online catalogue of the collection to help document, preserve, and share it.
The value of the project is that the museum’s overworked staff will not have to write descriptions for every object as a team of 25-30 scholars from Côte d’Ivoire, France, and the U.S. who will log into the catalog and add descriptive information based on the photos and metadata that gets uploaded. The team includes Yaelle Biro, Christine Kreamer, Susan Vogel, Susan Gagliardi, Najwa Borro, yours truly, and others.

Cohen is currently recruiting equipment and funds to pay extra staff to help complete the project and created a fundraising page for individual donors: you can contribute and find more information about the project here. They have already raised $ 14,000 and need another $ 6,000 for the final months’ labor costs.

ps unfortunately a lot of objects disappeared from the museum’s collection through the years – luckily the Musée de quai Branly in Paris holds the the photographic archives of Bohumil Holas (the museum’s curator in the 1960s and 1970s); they include a lot of installation shots (as above), which give a good idea of the museum’s holdings at the time. Cross-referencing these files with the new catalogue will give a good idea of which objects are no longer in the museum.

An interview with Tambaran Gallery’s Maureen Zarember

Maureen Zarember. Image courtesy of Tambaran Gallery.

Maureen Zarember. Image courtesy of Tambaran Gallery.

Click here for a nice interview with Maureen Zarember, who’s been running Tambaran Gallery since 1979. It includes a great story about the above Fang figure:

This figure lay on its back on the floor of a glass case in Sotheby’s auction house, approximately 25 years ago. Almost discarded, not worth standing upright, not attracting attention. Bidding was slow and uninteresting—almost boring—so I won the bid. Afterwards, I was told I had bought a fake, and not to pay for it. However, I was approached by a senior collector who congratulated me and stated, “It’s published,” but couldn’t remember where. I searched books on Fang and Gabon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, unfortunately without success.

Several years later, a Parisian dealer asked me if I still had that old thing, and enquired if it was for sale. I answered, “No, it is published, but I am still hunting for the book.” After several attempts, offering a very handsome profit, the dealer finally realized I would not part with it. I researched and traced the Fang to Pierre Loeb and Pierre Matisse, as it was photographed by Walker Evans for an exhibition at the MoMA in 1935. We have no record of its whereabouts after 1935 until it surfaced at Sotheby’s, a bit shabby for wear. It had traveled widely, as it was found in California, supposedly in the garbage. During my possession, it started to sweat—the libation palm oil was coming to the surface—and it acquired a wonderful dark patina. What tales we might hear if she could speak! Happily, the torso was loaned to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the “Eternal Ancestors” in 2007, and published in their catalog (plate 29).

I did some research and Ms. Zarember paid $ 27,500 for the Fang in 1992 (Sotheby’s, New York, 18 May 1992. Lot 181); it was indeed sold without any provenance. Certainly an incredible story! Research always pays off.

African art in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994)

African art in Tarrantino Pulp Fiction


Another Hollywood film featuring African art: Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994). In one scene Vincent Vega (John Travolta) picks up Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) at Marsellus Wallace’s house. Pretending to be a sophisticated gangster, the latter’s living room is full of African art – all of it fake unfortunately. Above a “Dan” mask, spot more objects (or “African fellas” to quote Mia) in the clip below. A film with a fantastic soundtrack by the way.