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Happy 2021!

Courtesy of Softlytaxidermy.

2020 surely was a year to remember for all of us. It was challenging to try to process all the changes in our lives, to say the least. Especially the readers with young kids will understand what I am talking about. On a personal level, my exit at Christie’s surely was an unforeseen 180° turnaround in my life. Although I’m happy the year is over, I feel grateful for the space it also gave to rethink my future. The lockdown surely presented an opportunity for reflection. As the saying goes.. never waste a good crisis. There is still so much work to do in the exciting world of African Art, and my mission as one of its passioned advocates is far from over.. more on that later this year.

For now, let me wish you a healthy and prosperous 2021!

Many thanks for all the continued interest and support.

Best wishes,

Bruno

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Culinary journeys inspired by an African mask

Feuilles à feuilles of beef, manioc and sweet potatoes by Mory Sacko. Image courtesy of Chris Saunders.

To promote their last African Art sale in Paris, the team of Sotheby’s Paris came up with the innovative idea to invite the hot French chef Mory Sacko to create a dish inspired by one of the objects in their auction – a first, I believe.

The chef selected the above Dogon mask from Mali. Inspired by the raw and sculptural quality of the mask as well as the lightness of the object itself, Sacko created a dish that relied on ingredients native to the African continent, a Feuilles à Feuilles of beef, manioc and sweet potatoes. The dish was composed of slices of manioc and sweet potato that have been lacquered over coal, and dehydrated slices of lightly seared beef and cream sauce of white and black voatsiperifery, and penja pepper from Madagascar and Africa. It is ok if your mouth is watering by now.

The idea for this creation was inspired by the mask – raw and yet sculptural – hence the use of ingredients from Africa (with the exception of the beef), the same provenance as the mask. These ingredients were used in their most natural form while preserving the same impression of lightness that one feels when holding the mask.

You can read the full story of this collaboration here. And, next time you are in Paris don’t forget to reserve a table at Sacko’s new restaurant MoSuke, a place inspired by his passion for both Japanese and African cultures.

And let me hereby also wish you ‘bon appetit’ during the hopefully mesmerising dinners in the company of your loved ones in these special times.. happy holidays!

Mory Sacko. Image courtesy of Chris Saunders.
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Nothing is permanent but change

The last 4,5 years of my life and passion in one picture. Please note that I am no longer with Christie’s due to a restructuring of the department. I am most grateful for the exciting journey and proud of the achievements of our world-class team. After a 20 years hiatus, we succeeded in becoming market leader in our field again, establishing many new record prices along the way, and fortifying the place of African and Oceanic Art within the global art market. I’ll be continuing my mission to promote the Art so close to our hearts after the summer break, so be sure to watch this space!

Do not hesitate to get in touch if I can be of any service, and, as always, remember “ars longa, vita brevis” !

Yours truly,
Bruno

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Auctions News

Auction alert: Christie’s, Paris, 29 June 2020 – 3pm

Originally scheduled for April 8th, I would like to remind you our African, Oceanic and Northern American Art auction will take place in Paris next Monday June 29th at 3pm.

Our sale include works of art from the famed collection of James and Marilynn Alsdorf, such as a newly discovered Akan terracotta head from a known hand illustrated above. The Oceanic section is highlighted by a gope board and agipa hook, both collected by Thomas Schultze-Westrum in Papua New Guinea. The African art section includes works from an important European private collection, such as the major Urhobo statue from Nigeria gracing the cover of the catalog. From a private Belgian collection, an important Songye kifwebe masks will be offered at auction, as well as a rare Songye power figure with a slightly turned head.

You can explore the sale here.

As the lockdown measures in Paris have been eased, this will be a regular live auction with a sale preview (but without a cocktail).   I hope to welcome you to our offices Avenue Matignon on:

Friday 26 June, 10am – 6pm
Saturday 27 June, 10am – 6pm
Sunday 28 June, 2pm – 6pm
and Monday 29 June, 10am – 3pm.

As ever, please don’t hesitate to get in touch if I can be of any assistance. We’ll happily send you videos and installation pictures as we understand that for many of you it is still impossible to travel to Paris. However, I’ll happily walk you through the exhibition with a video call if desired.

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Auctions News

Catalog online: Christie’s, PARIS AVANT-GARDE, 17 October 2019

On October 17th, the African art department of Christie’s Paris is teaming up with their colleagues at the Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art departments for the fourth edition of the highly successful sale concept PARIS AVANT-GARDE. Taking place at the art market’s most dynamic week in France, this sale will for the first time include African art besides and exceptional selection of carefully selected and fresh to the market paintings and sculptures.

Among the artists who had a special relationship to the French capital, Pablo Picasso, René Magritte, André Breton, Max Ernst, Fernand Léger along with Nicolas de Staël, Pierre Soulages, Hans Arp, Jean Dubuffet and Zao Wou-Ki, all will be present with works in this curated sale. As for the African art, we’re proud to present one of the best seated Baule statues known, collected by Roger Bédiat and previously in the collection of Myron Kunin, and an exquisite Baule mask once in the collection of Helena Rubinstein – to which the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac will dedicate an exhibition in November. You can download a pdf with the African art selection HERE or visit the sale’s page on our website here.

The sale takes place in Paris on October 17th at 7pm and the viewing days are:

12 Oct, 10am – 6pm
13 Oct, 2pm – 6pm
14 Oct, 10am – 6pm
15 Oct, 10am – 6pm
16 Oct, 10am – 6pm
17 Oct, 10am – 4pm

As you can see in the catalog the selection is truly exceptional, and we’re very proud to be the first auction house ever to mix paintings of this quality with top-level African art in a single sale. As always, please don’t hesitate to get in touch if I can be of any assistance. Hope to see you there. As for the catalog for our main sale on October 30th, it should be online in the coming days, you’ll be the first to know so stay tuned.

 

 

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Auctions News

Save the date(s): Christie’s fall sales of African, Oceanic and North-American Art

Dear reader, I hope you had a relaxing Summer and are energized for an exciting fall season at Christie’s Paris. Please be kind to mark the following dates in your agenda:

– on 11, 12, 13, 14 & 16 September you are invited at Christie’s Paris for an exclusive first view of the highlights of our fall sales
– on 13 September we are hosting a conference about the influence of North West Coast Art on the Surrealists by Marie Mauzé, followed by a champagne reception (let me know if you want to get an invitation!)
– on 17 October we’re proud to be part of the prestigious PARIS AVANT-GARDE sale, which will include several African masterworks (among which a rediscovered Baule mask formerly in the Helena Rubinstein collection)
– the preview of the PARIS AVANT-GARDE sale takes place on 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 & 17 October
– last, but not least, on 30 October we have our main fall sale SPLENDORS, with the preview taking place on 24, 25, 26, 28 and 29 October

SPLENDORS features an exceptional private collection of North West Coast art from British Colombia, among which the Tsimshian spirit mask illustrated above. This unique group of about twenty works took the collector 30 years to assemble and brings together masterpieces from the Haida, Tlingit and neighboring peoples. All objects were meticulously selected and can be considered to be among the best of their kind. A collection of a kind that only appears on the market once every decade and we are very proud to bring it to the market. SPLENDORS as well features an exquisite selection of African and Oceanic art from a princely collection. Build by a gentleman with an incredible eye for quality, it features another twenty objects, among which several of the great icons of their type. Additionally, we’ll be presenting a select group of fresh-to-the market discoveries, including several objects formerly in the collection of Pierre Matisse. We’re currently finishing the catalog and hope to have it ready by mid-September. As always, yours truly has his hands full, but I look forwarding to welcoming you in Paris. Just drop me a line, if none of the above dates would fit in your schedule and we’ll work out a private viewing.

 

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Auctions News

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 !

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Auctions News

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..

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Auctions News

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.

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Jeanne Claessens

I’m happy to report I’ve added another daughter to my collection of kids: Jeanne Claessens was born earlier this month. Both mother and daughter are doing very well and we couldn’t be more happy. As with Felix, and Garance, there’s of course a link with African art, as Jeanne Walschot was the first female dealer of African art in Belgium, and a serious collector as well.