The Mossi wood carver Roago Sawadogo, photographed in Sini in 1984. Image courtesy of Thomas G.B. Wheelock.
This must be one of my favorite photos of a traditional African sculptor at work. Casually supporting the unfinished block of wood by holding one of the graciously curving horns, Raogo is about to strike his sharp iron adze. The determination and confidence that radiates from his face tell about his mastery of his tools and skills as a sculptor.
This photo was published in Thomas Wheelock’s book on his private collection, Land of the Flying Masks. Art and Culture in Burkina Faso (Munich, 2007: p. 41, fig. 10) – a must read for anyone interested in the art of the country. In a paragraph about “artists” Wheelock for example reveals the following interesting bit of information:
My experience in the art market in Burkina Faso has been that the deeper the scars are carved, and the higher the relief, the more likely it is that the mask was carved for an African patron and not for the tourist trade. Deeper scars are the product of greater time and care committed to the carving.
Something to remember !
A short review of the results of the Bonhams sale of May 15th in NY. Before aftersale, about 50 % of the lots were sold. Overall results were as expected. Many of the excellent objects of daily use from the collection of Marc & Denyze Ginzberg were sold for next to nothing. The Chokwe figure on the front cover failed to sell, which shouldn’t be a suprise seen the high estimate.
Some personal favourites:
– a rare Mossi doorpost, which sold for $ 3,125 inc. premium. A wonderful abstract form at a bargain price.
– an interesting Yoruba door, which sold for $ 5,000 inc premium. It is featured in Henry Drewal’s African Artistry: Technique and Aesthetics in Yoruba Sculpture; a must read by the way.
– a miniature Songye figure with a turned head, wich sold for $ 20,000 inc. premium. Seen the difference in patination the body most likely once was covered. Two other figures from this artist are known.
(images courtesy of Bonhams)