Exhibtions News

Ere Ibeji – exhibition pictures

Sanza Ere Ibeji

François Boulanger’s pictures of the ere ibeji exhibition and book presentation during Bruneaf XXIII can be found here on the Sanza blog.


Book presentation – Antwerp, 6 July 2013

boekvoorstelling Ere Ibeji Bruno Claessens


Save Amsterdam’s Tropenmuseum (update: saved!)

Tropenmuseum Amsterdam

The Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam’s ethnographic and multicultural museum, is being hit by budget cuts. Over half of the staff will lose their jobs and the research library will simply shut down. The museum needs 40,000 signatures to put the Tropenmuseum back on the government agenda and save it from closure.

Please sign the petition here.

For non dutch speakers, on the site: please fill in your first name and last name (Ik = Identity = put your name), city (Wonende te = City = put your city) and your email and send. Then click on the confirmation link in the email you will receive after from the petition site.

For additional information see this short TV documentary (in Dutch).

The contrast with the recent re-opening of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum couldn’t be bigger.


After all the controversy, the Dutch parliament discussed the fate of the Tropenmuseum and is now prepared to give € 5.5 million every year for the next three years. The first two years will be paid for by the ministry of Foreign Affairs (Buitenlandse Zaken), the third year will be financed by the ministry of Education, Culture and Science (Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap – OCW). In 2017, all museums will be evaluated and the Tropenmuseum will not be treated differently from the others. However, a few conditions need to be fulfilled:

– The Tropenmuseum needs to merge with the Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, Leiden and the Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal to become a ‘Museum for World Culture’ (Museum voor wereldcultuur)

– The Tropenmuseum collection and its library need to become national collections, and not as is the case now, private collections

– The Tropenmuseum needs to be independent from the Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen (KIT, Royal Institute for the Tropics).


Ere Ibeji lecture (Katlijk, 7 July 2013)

African Sunday Katlijk

If you are in the neighborhood, I will be giving a lecture on my ibeji book Sunday July 7 at Gallery de Ruijter-van Santen in Katlijk, The Netherlands. I will be speaking at 14pm. At 11am, the 12th African Sunday starts with a lecture on Madagascar grave poles by Anno Fokkinga. Ursula Voorhuis, famed for her comprehensive Yoruba collection, will also be exhibiting 50 objects from her collection. More information on the program can be found here.

News Publications

Free African art books from the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is offering free downloads of many of their out-of-print catalogues and art books here. Among them many titles on African art:

Art of the Dogon: Selections from the Lester Wunderman Collection

Royal Art of Benin: The Perls Collection

Genesis: Ideas of Origin in African Sculpture

For Spirits and Kings: African Art from the Paul and Ruth Tishman Collection

Happy downloading !

Exhibtions News

Ere Ibeji Exhibition Poster

We had a wonderful sunny opening today, with lots of visitors and interest, so I’m a happy man.

ere ibeji exhibition Bruno Claessens

News Publications

Ere Ibeji – Dos and Bertie Winkel Collection (Bruno Claessens, 2013)

This week, I will be presenting my first book during Bruneaf XXIII at the gallery of Pierre Loos (Impasse Saint Jacques 17, first floor). There will be a small exhibition with the ere ibeji from the Winkel collection, together with some framed pictures. I will be signing the book on Wednesday 05/06, Thursday 06/06 and Saturday 08/06 – hope to see you there !

Among the Yoruba of southwest Nigeria, the rate of twin births is over four times the worldwide average. This fact along with a high infant mortality rate gave rise to the creation of a unique twin cult. For each deceased twin, a small carved wooden figurine, or ere ibeji, was made in which the spirit of the deceased could live on. This statuette was lovingly cared for on a daily basis and in return brought the family health and prosperity. Through the lens of Jean-Pierre Depienne and the pen of Bruno Claessens, the 32 ere ibeji from the private collection of Dos and Bertie Winkel are presented in this book for the first time. After an introductory text on the subject, the extensive variety of styles of this very particular type of African art are described in depth.

Bruno Claessens Ere Ibeji 1
Bruno Claessens Ere Ibeji 2
Bruno Claessens Ere Ibeji 3
Bruno Claessens Ere Ibeji 4
Bruno Claessens Ere Ibeji 5
Bruno Claessens Ere Ibeji 6
Bruno Claessens Ere Ibeji 7
Bruno Claessens Ere Ibeji 8
Bruno Claessens Ere Ibeji 9
Bruno Claessens Ere Ibeji 10
Bruno Claessens Ere Ibeji 11

After Bruneaf, you can order the book here on the website of Dos and Bertie Winkel.

Fairs News

Art-A 2013

Apologies for the slow posting these last days. I assisted the famed Dutch photographer Ferry Herrebrugh this week, shooting pictures for the next Art-A catalogue (out late November).

Below, an image behind the scenes with a dramatically lit Moba figure from Amma Tribal Art.

Moba Amma


Appraisal Detroit Institute of Arts

Yombe nkisi nkondi collected by Robert Visser in 1903. (image courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts)
Yombe nkisi nkondi collected by Robert Visser in 1903. (image courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts)

Alarming news from Detroit, where the city’s $15 billion debt has led to the entire contents of the Detroit Institute of Arts being seen as a disposable asset by the city’s emergency manager. More details here and here.

Right now no one knows exactly how much the collection is worth. A rough estimate is approximately $3 billion. It is somewhat taboo to appraise publicly owned art, as there is the belief it should not be put on the market.

A statement released by the emergency manager’s spokesperson said, “While there is no plan to sell any assets, it is possible that the city’s creditors could demand the city use its assets to settle its debts. The emergency manager has alerted certain assets, including the DIA, that they might face exposure to creditors should the city be forced to seek Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. This is a precautionary measure.”

In the meantime, choose which piece of African Art you would buy in the presentation of the Africa, Oceanica & Indigenous Americas collection here. I love their Yaka figure, but my final decision would be this Bamana figure.

(image courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts)
(image courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts)

UPDATE: please take note that Christie’s (Paris) is selling 14 African objects from the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago next month; see lot 61-74 here – with a special mention for this important Baga headdress. Many of them were only recently donated to the museum, so I guess there were given without restrictions that would prevent a sale.

UPDATE 2: more recent news here. The objects illustrated in this post were or bought by the DIA itself or donated to the museum and thus can not be sold.