Category Archives: Auctions

Auction alert: Christie’s, Art of Africa – Masterworks, New York, May 14, 2019

I’m pleased to announce our Art of Africa – Masterworks sale, which will take place on May 14, 2019 at Christie’s New York. The auction is an exceptional sale featuring nine masterworks of African Art and will coincide with Christie’s 20th Century Week sales. Once more, a meticulously curated sale with only very special objects. You can find more information about them HERE.

Pièce du résistance of this catalog obviously is the Songye Kifwebe mask, the most beautiful and important example of its type remaining in private hands. Through the sculptor’s use of powerful proportion and the waves of graphic lines, the mask creates an optical illusion that can be perceived as hypnotic. The Kifwebe type of mask remains one of the most iconic in all African artistry and has inspired and compelled artist of the 20th century and appears prominently in the works of Alexander Calder and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Therefor, it’s only obvious we’re bringing it to the market at the time of our major modern and contemporary art sales. Extensive research further revealed this mask was already exhibited in Brussels as early in 1933, in the first African art exhibition with works coming from a single private collection, that of Jeanne Walschot, Belgium’s Nancy Cunard and the first ever female African art dealer. Read more about this masterpiece here. Other highlights of the sale include a Picassoesque Grebo/Kru mask from Liberia, an extremely rare black Punu mask and an enigmatic Chokwe costume. Please come preview the sale at the Rockefeller Center on:

7 May, 10am – 5pm
8 May, 10am – 5pm
9 May, 10am – 5pm
10 May, 10am – 5pm
11 May, 10am – 5pm (with a guided tour and champagne at 3:30pm!)
12 May, 1pm – 5pm
13 May, 10am – 5pm

The sale is on 14 May at 6:30pm. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if I can be of any assistance. Hope to see you in New York !

The Lost Gods of Easter Island by David Attenborough (2000)

If you haven’t seen this great BBC documentary written and presented by David Attenborough yet, you can now watch it online HERE. Attenborough embarks on a personal quest to uncover the history of a wooden Easter Island statue which he bought at Christie’s in the 1980s. We follow him on an investigation to uncover the mysteries of his statue; a journey that takes him from Russia to Australia, England, the Pacific, a Tahiti beach and finally to one of the most remote places on earth, Easter Island.

Yours truly recently also made a short documentary about an Easter Island statue. You can see me talking about the moai kavakava from the James Hooper collection HERE – we’ll be selling it next week in Paris among many other Oceanic masterworks (info).

Catalog online: Christie’s, African, Oceanic and North American Art, Paris, 10 April 2019

I’m very proud to announce the catalog of our April 10th auction in Paris is now available online HERE. I hope it explains the radio silence on these pages these last few months. Indeed, in 2018 Christie’s for the second year in a row was the market leader for African and Oceanic art! Hence I did not have much time to blog. Our forthcoming sale features a strong selection of Oceanic art, coinciding with the exhibition Oceania at the Musée du Quai Branly after its first stop at the Royal Academy in London earlier this year. In response to this momentum we have chosen to respond with a tightly curated group of Oceanic masterpieces. The crown jewel of this group is an iconic moai kavakava statue from Rapa Nui. Formerly in the legendary James Hooper collection, is was last seen at auction exactly 40 years ago at Christie’s London, and it is broadly considered as being one of the most classical of its type. The Oceanic section further includes the Sepik collection of an anonymous Dutch collector, amassed over a period of 30 years and showing the genius of Sepik sculptors through a broad range of first-class objects. Additionaly, from various important private collections, we have brought together a strong group of works from New Ireland (including two Uli’s, on which a monograph will appear later this year) and several top pieces from the Maori. The sale starts with an exciting group of Alaskan treasures from the collection of the French painter Antoine Tzapoff. The African section features a section dedicated to the trailblazing French dealer Maine Durieu, who left us too soon 3 years ago. A group of 12 objects from one of her loyal clients celebrates this much missed taste-maker. Last but not least, and a personal favorite, is the below Kongo couple, collected by Edmund Dartevelle in 1936, among many others exciting works fresh to the market. I sincerely hope you’ll find these 121 objects worthy of your attention and would love to welcome you in Paris during our preview days starting on April 5th. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if I can be of any assistance..

Catalogs October 30th Christie’s African and Oceanic art sales online

I’m happy to report you can now browse the catalogs of our upcoming sales taking place in Paris on Tuesday October 30th; you can download the catalogue of the Stoclet collection on this page (as previously announced here), or browse the lots of our second sale here. This auction (taking place immediately after Stoclet) includes property from various distinguished private collections: fresh to the market Oceanic treasures from the Fortess collection, a selection of objects from the collection of Claude Berri (the famous French movie director), an anonymous French private collection assembled with great taste by a female collector from the 1960s until the 1980s, and the collection of Jacques and Denise Schwob, assembled before 1955 and unseen for more than half a century (including the cover lot). The catalogs are printed and on their way. I hope to see you in Paris for the viewing days on:

Wednesday 24 October, 10am – 6pm
Thursday 25 October, 10am – 6pm
Friday 26 October, 10am – 6pm
Saturday 27 October, 10am – 6pm
Monday 29 October, 10am – 6pm

The sales are on Tuesday 30 October at 4pm. As always, don’t hesitate to get in touch if I can be of any service.

Christie’s announces sale of African and Oceanic art from the Adolphe Stoclet Collection

I’m very proud to announce Christie’s will be selling African and Oceanic masterpieces from the collection of Adolphe Stoclet in Paris on October 30th. Highlights will be on view this week in Paris for the occasion of Parcours des Mondes on Wednesday from 2pm to 6pm, and on Thursday and Friday from 10am until 6pm. You’re most welcome to a cocktail celebrating this announcement on Thursday evening at 6:30pm at Avenue Matignon 9.

Adolphe Stoclet was a very important Belgian patron of the arts in the early decades of the 20th century and is most famous for commissioning pioneer Austrian architect Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstätte with the construction of his private mansion in Brussels. Palais Stoclet, classified as a World Heritage site by Unesco since 2009, was the home of this unseen collection to be sold by Christie’s in October. Stoclet is also remembered as an avid art collector with an avant-garde taste. Long before eclecticism became a trend, he juxtaposed archaic Chinese bronzes, early Greek sculpture, medieval bronzes, Italian ‘primitive’ Quattrocento paintings, and African and Oceanic art in his private residence. These rediscovered treasures have never been on the market before and only a few have been published or exhibited. The collection features a strong group of Congolese ivories, an exceptional kifwebe mask from the Songye, an important royal Luba-Shankadi stool, and the best zoomorphic Yaka headrest to remain in private hands. We are still working hard on the catalog, but it should be available online by mid-September.

Besides the Stoclet sale, we are also having a second auction in Paris on October 30th with objects coming from different important private collections. Highlights of this sale will also be on view in Paris later this week. I hope to meet you there!

Interview with yours truly on Imo Dara about the Durand-Dessert sale

For the occasion for the sale of the African art collection of Liliane and Michel Durand-Dessert, I did a short interview with Imo Dara’s Adenike Cosgrove; you can find it here. One of the subjects..

For newer or younger collectors of African art, which artworks do you recommend they keep an eye on during the auction and what advice would you give them?

A great line I once picked up is “buy with your eyes, not with your ears”, inspiring the name of one of my social media accounts at the time ‘listentoyoureyes’. But, your eyes can fool you—many of the best fakes were made to accommodate Western taste, they were made to please our aesthetic—be aware of that. Key to getting a good ‘eye’ is to try to see as much as possible, to build a visual library in your head that serves as an instant comparison when you encounter a certain object. If you don’t have the time for this, make friends that do and look at an object through their eyes. The African art community is full of people who are willing to share their knowledge and insights (you are a perfect example of that!). Make friends and look together.

Thanks to wonderful initiatives as Imo Dara our community keeps on growing. It excites me when I see how many new young collectors are starting to look at African art. It can be a challenging field to enter, and one has to be courageous to start collecting African art – but information has never been seen easily accessible and knowledge is much more generously shared as before, so the future is looking bright!

Christie’s market leader for the Art of Africa, Oceania and the Americas in the first half of 2018

I’m proud to inform you Christie’s has maintained last year’s position of market leader for the Art of Africa, Oceania and the Americas in the first half of 2018. With combined sales of almost 18 million euro, Christie’s was responsible for 54 % of the market (one percent up compared to last year). With two successful collection sales (Prigogine and Durand-Dessert) a various owners sale in Paris and a curated sale in New York, we maintained our strong position in this competitive market. Focussed solely on Paris, where we held the first and last major sales of this auction season, and not taking into account our Prigogine sale, we have a market share of 72% for the Art of Africa and Oceania !

But our job is much more than just the numbers. Last week, it was an incredible honor and privilege to bring the Durand-Dessert collection to the market. It turned out to be much more than a sale, it was a manifest, renouncing the classical canon to valorize the multivalent arts of the African continent. Time will prove it was an important momentum for fragmented objects and the arts of Nigeria – two clusters which defined this visionary collection. Furthermore, we continue to grow our international base of collectors and increase the visibility of the art we love so much in the international art scene. I can’t reveal too much just yet, but we are now looking forward to an exciting second part of the year. Highlights of our sale on 30 October will be on view during Parcours des Mondes in Paris in September. But for now, let me wish you happy holidays and a great summer !

Very best,
Bruno

 

ps don’t hesitate to contact me if you would be interested in consigning objects with us for our sale in Paris in October !

Preview Durand-Dessert auction to start in exactly one week

Next Friday, the preview of the sale of the African art collection of Liliane & Michel Durand-Dessert begins. The campaign to promote this unique and visionary collection hence is in full swing. Earlier this week we launched the above trailer to wet your appetite about this exceptional group of objects. It’s best enjoyed on a big screen and with headphones. The idea was to make it clear it will definitely be worth a trip to Paris. The preview dates are:

Friday 22 June 2 PM-6PM
Saturday 23 June 10AM-6PM
Sunday 24 June 2PM-6PM
Monday 25 June 10AM-6PM
Tuesday 26 June 10AM-6PM
Wednesday 27 June 10AM-12AM

The auction will take place in Paris on Wednesday 27 June at 4PM. For the Christie’s website, I also did a short feature about our cover lot, the Mbembe statue; you can find it here.

Catalogue online: “FUTURE PERFECT : the African Art Collection of Liliane & Michel Durand-Dessert”, Christie’s, Paris, 27 June 2018

After the successful sale of the Vérité collection last year, I’m very proud to present another collection sale at Christie’s Paris. On 27 June, we’ll be offering the famous African art collection of Liliane and Michel Durand-Dessert. You can browse the catalogue HERE.

The 105 treasures (with a combined estimate of € 7-10 million) are a testament of the avant-garde taste of the Durand-Dessert couple, pioneer gallerists of contemporary art, who have taken an innovative look at African arts, to form a collection which they have brought together with love and rigour for more than thirty years.

The dispersion of this important ensemble constitutes a major event for the African art market, not only because of the intrinsic quality of the objects that are part of it, but because of the uncommon personalities of the couple that put it together with an unrelentingly critical, analytical and original approach, in which their high standards are clearly discernible. Open without exception to all areas of African art, this group was meticulously build up by the couple as a couple. Both are brilliant literary and scientifc academics, and audacious cutting-edge gallery owners who have been pioneers in their field, having shown the most radical 20th century avant-garde art. Also the choices they made in their collecting were well ahead of the pack – the arts of Nigeria indeed form a crucial segment of this unique collection.

In 2008, an important selection of it was presented at the Monnaie de Paris during Parcours des Mondes. This highly acclaimed exhibition, Fragments du Vivant (‘Fragments of the Living’), put their collection on the map and was accompanied by an excellent catalogue published under the supervision of Jean-Louis Paudrat and with beautiful photographs by Hughes Dubois. As you’ll note, many excerpts from the introductory interview published in this book enrich our catalogue notes, inasmuch as the eyes and appreciation that these collectors have had for their objects have contributed so much to making them the marvels that they are.

The African art collection Liliane and Michel Durand-Dessert was born from the same implacable passion that animated their visionary choices for their gallery. A short history of the collection and its makers in English can be found at the back of the catalogue. It is a great honor for us to bring this unique ensemble to the market. The auction will take place in Paris on Wednesday 27 June at 4PM; below the preview dates.

Friday 22 June 2 PM-6PM
Saturday 23 June 10AM-6PM
Sunday 24 June 2PM-6PM
Monday 25 June 10AM-6PM
Tuesday 26 June 10AM-6PM
Wednesday 27 June 10AM-12AM

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if I can be of any service or if you want more information or images on a certain object. I hope to see you in Paris for this not-to-be-missed event!

 

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Save the date: Christie’s, Paris, COLLECTION X, 27 June 2018

On 27 June 2018, in exactly two months, Christie’s Paris will be selling 104 objects from a very prestigious Parisian collection of African art. We are currently still working on the auction catalog, but I’m pleased to already announce the viewing days:

Friday 22 June 10AM-6PM
Saturday 23 June 10AM-6PM
Sunday 24 June 2PM-6PM
Monday 25 June 10AM-6PM
Tuesday 26 June 10AM-6PM
Wednesday 27 June 10AM-12AM

I can’t reveal much more for now, but I guarantee it will be worth a trip to Paris ! I hope to see you there…

ps with 3 auctions in 3 months, I hope you can understand why it was so quiet on the blog these last months..