African art from the Jan Krugier Collection

Left a detail of Picasso’s “Guernica” (1937) with the head reminiscent of the Baule mask on the right.

Left a detail of Picasso’s “Guernica” (1937) with the head reminiscent of the Baule mask on the right.

As previously discussed here, Christie’s NY sold several African art objects from the collection of Jan Krugier (1928-2008) – once the world’s foremost Pablo Picasso dealer – on 4 November 2013. A Baule mask, published in Rubin’s Primitivism, belonging to André Breton before arriving in the hands of Pablo Picasso, was sold for $1,445,000 (Estimate $500,000 – $800,000) ! Since its semi-circular mouth with pointed tongue appears in several of Picasso’s paintings, most notably Guernica (1937), this African mask found its place in Western art history, resulting in this extraordinary price. The story goes, that Picasso enjoyed keeping the mask on a rocking chair in his studio, so it was always ‘charging’ and in motion. Also on sale were a Guro mask from Paul Guillaume ($ 197K), Fang bellows ($ 137K) and a Bwa mask from Hubert Goldet ($ 52,5K). Again, a good example how context defines value.

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  1. Pingback: African art and the nostalgic premium | Bruno Claessens

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