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.
A must-see if you are in New York before April 16 is “Fétiche” at Adam Lindemann’s gallery Venus Over Manhattan. This exhibition presents a mix of post-war and contemporary Western art with African and Oceanic art. The press release says:
The modern and contemporary works included in the show have no overt spiritual or mystical purpose. Though not religious in a traditional sense, there is significant financial and metaphysical value placed on contemporary art, and its ownership grants power via social status and prestige. The various motivations to possess art are seldom explored, though the entire art market relies upon a system of beliefs that highlights issues of relevancy, timeliness, and critical consensus. Fétiche explores the ways in which contemporary and indigenous works bestow authority and power within significantly different social structures.
You can find more info about the exhibition here (including images of the African and Oceanic art on display).
Fétiche also includes paintings by Alexander Calder juxtaposed with African masks owned by the artist, which are on loan from the Alexander Calder Foundation.
The below juxtaposition of Richard Prince’s ‘It’s all over‘ with two big tree-fern statues from Vanuatu is definitely spot-on. We can only applaud such a wonderful juxtaposition of high level Western art together with great examples of African and Oceanic art.
ps the iconic Lega figure on the poster, once in the Stoclet Collection, was already exhibited in New York once before. 81 years ago, in 1935, it was shown during African Negro Art at the Museum of Modern Art.
First of all, a big thank you for the many felicitations I received. It has been an exhilarating 4 weeks so far and I can tell you that I certainly have a renewed respect for everybody active in the auction business. I hope you will forgive me spamming you with news of some of our events from time to time. The coming week we’ll be showing a small selection of top level objects from our May and June sales in the atrium of the Christie’s headquarters in Paris – I hope to see you there!
So now you know why it was so quiet on the blog in February 🙂 The blog will remain online, but for now my first priority is to create a great June sale that is worthy of your attention. In the meantime brace yourself for our May sale in NY (of which we have a preview in Paris from 14-17 March) – it’s going to be spectacular!
The official press release:
Paris – Christie’s is pleased to announce that Bruno Claessens has joined the auction house as European Head of the African and Oceanic Art department.
Based in Paris, with a presence in Brussels, Bruno will work closely with International Head of Department Susan Kloman and International Consultant Pierre Amrouche. Bruno Claessens’s appointment will further enhance the department, supporting its reach and continuing the high level of our sales in Paris.
Bruno grew up in Antwerp, Belgium, and has always been passionate about this field. He worked with the prestigious Yale University-Van Rijn Archives for African Art as a researcher. He has since published extensively on the subject of African art and served as an independent advisor, writer and researcher to collectors and dealers. His forthcoming book: “Baule Monkeys” will be published by Fonds Mercator, Belgium, this year.
Bruno is best known for his African art blog, which was the most successful and widely read site on the subject. The site has been revered for his insightful comments on the market and weekly updates on current events and historical topics in this dynamic field. 🙂
The continued growth of the African and Oceanic Art category holds many opportunities for Christie’s, as many important collectors around the world consider this field integral to their endeavors, particularly those in the historic cross-over categories of Post-War and Contemporary and Impressionist and Modern Art departments. The twice-yearly sales in Paris are a cornerstone of Christie’s auction offering in France.
During the TEFAF art fair, the department is pleased to be exhibiting a selection of high quality works in Paris, which will be offered for sale in New York on May 12th.