Auction results Bonhams NY, 15 May 2013

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.

Bonhams 15 May 2015

Some personal favourites:

– a rare Mossi doorpost, which sold for $ 3,125 inc. premium. A wonderful abstract form at a bargain price.

Mossi post Bonhams

– 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.

Yoruba door Bonhams

– 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.

Songye figure Bonhams

(images courtesy of Bonhams)


Native auction catalogue online

The online catalogue of the next Native sale in Brussels is now available (their fifth sale already).

You can find it here.

Native 8 June 2013

The Fang spoon on the front cover is a masterpiece. A nice find for this emerging auction house!

Publications Research

The Who’s Who in African Art

An indispensable tool for anyone doing provenance research; giving short biographies of primarily Europeans and Americans who have been connected with researching and publishing on African art, as well as with collecting and selling African art, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Compiled by Guy van Rijn, the Who’s Who in African Art lists circa 18,000 names. Around 10 % of them are joined by a picture. These names have been extracted from 50 years of auction catalogues, and from approximately two thousand books and exhibition catalogues which included the names of authors, scholars, field collectors, dealers & collectors. It is not an address list, but is meant to be used as a reference guide for background information. Following the name there will be a brief description that does not aim to be conclusive at any time, e.g. authors cannot be listed with all of their publications, and therefore only one title is mentioned. It is a work in progress; every week entries are being updated and new names are being added.

Available online here and in printed format here (the 2012 edition with a beautiful cover created by the Dutch artist Ingrid Baars).



Yours truly is also listed.




On the banks of the Ubangi

This amazing field-photo comes from an old postcard. Unfortunately, the only contextual information available is the title of the picture: ‘Sur les rives de l’Ubangi’. So, if a reader knows which Ubangian people these two lovely girls originate from, be sure to get in touch.

UPDATE: I finaly found the origin of this picture, see here. These two Sango girls were photographed by Meulemans ca. 1890 in Banzyville.

sur les rives de lubangi

Exhibtions Publications

Kongo exhibition in Leipzig

Until June 2nd you still have the chance to visit Minkisi. Skulpture vom unteren Kongo at the Grassi Museum in Leipzig, Germany. The majority of the 118 objects are shown for the first time to the public. Many of them were acquired from Robert Visser, who worked for the Dutch trading company Nieuwe Afrikaansche Handels-Venootschap on the Loango coast of West Central African between 1882 and 1904. Visser sent home to Germany at least four large collections of ethnographic objects which he distributed among the ethnographic museums of Berlin, Leipzig and Stuttgart. Other minkisi in this exhibition were collected during the Loango-expedition between 1873 and 1876; in other words: well worth a visit!

Read more about it here


You can find more pictures here

The exhibition is also accompanied by a catalogue.

23 x 30 cm, 256 pages, 140 pictures
23 x 30 cm, 256 pages, 140 pictures

UPDATE: I just received the exhibition catalogue and it’s a must-have. 139 minkisi are presented, many accompanied by the original contextual information and published for the very first time. Excellent study material. In the back are another 60 figures (drawings and b/w pictures) with the figures that left the museum or were destroyed during the world wars. The book also features four informative articles: an introduction to minkisi in Englisch by Wyatt MacGaffey and three articles in German about Robert Visser, the Loango empire and the Loango-expedition.

UPDATE 2: a video tour is available on Youtube.


If you still need an excuse to buy an Ipad

The catalogue of the Collection Françoise et Jean Corlay (Sotheby’s, Paris) is now available as an Ipad app.

Corlay collection

Or, just browse online here.


LACMA purchases Bamana gwan figure

"Gwan" mother and child figure. (Museum Associates / LACMA, 2013)
“Gwan” mother and child figure. (Museum Associates / LACMA, 2013)

Last April, the L.A. County Museum of Art purchased a Bamana gwan figure from James Willis for $ 1 million (coming down from the original asking price of $ 1.6 million). The maternity figure will be welcoming visitors at the entrance of the museum’s new African Art galleries.

According to Polly Nooter Roberts, the newly hired curator of African Art at LACMA and professor at UCLA:

It’s a very symbolic acquisition for the museum, as LACMA is conceiving and giving birth to a new area of collecting and display.

The new galleries open July 7 with an exhibition of Luba sculptures on loan from the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium.

“Of course, a figure of this age would sustain some losses,” Roberts said as she presented the sculpture, referred to as Mother and Child Figure for the Gwan Association because it would have been presented at the Day of Gwan, an annual celebration to greet the agricultural season. It still has a rich, almost glossy sheen, even though the woman’s braids have fallen off and she sits on a stool that now has three instead of four legs. The child has lost its head, too, but these omissions leave “us with fragments of the sublime,” as Roberts put it.

Read more about it here and here.


White gold, black hands. Vol. 6.

Volume 6 of the fantastic series Ivory Sculpture in Congo is due to be out on June 5th. A must have. This volume features articles on the Lega by Kellim Brown and Bernard de Grunne, as well as a study on non-figurative ivories of the Shi by Thomas Bayet & Pierre Loos.

Available during Bruneaf at Congo Gallery with a 50 € discount, so don’t sleep !

White Gold Black Hands vol. 6


Zemanek 25 May 2013

The new Zemanek catalogue is online.

Download it here.

Zemanek May 2013

Notice the fantastic Ibibio mask on the cover, a rare find with an excised eye (unfortunately not visible on the front cover).


Bruneaf XXIII

The catalogue of the next Bruneaf is now available online, view it here.

There are three new participants this year: Andrew J. Berz, Sarah de Monbrison (now permanent in Brussels) & Yasmina Chenoufi from Paris.

Opening hours:

Wednesday June 5th 2013 from 3 pm till 9 pm
Thursday June 6th from 11 am till 7 pm
Friday June 7th from 11 am till 8 pm
Saturday June 8th from 11 am till 7 pm
Sunday June 9th from 11 am till 5 pm