Gallery Lemaire archives digitized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Therese Finette Lemaire and Matthias Lemaire, circa 1970s. Photo courtesy of Finette Lemaire.
Therese Finette Lemaire and Matthias Lemaire, circa 1970s. Photo courtesy of Finette Lemaire.

As my mentor Guy van Rijn always used to say when discussing old archives: “our greatest enemy is the trash bin”. Fortunately, more than ever, people these days realize the value and importance of photographic archives and not that much gets thrown away anymore. I was thus very happy to learn that Jen Larson, Assistant Visual Resource Manager at the Met’s Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas (AAOA), recently digitized approximately 15,000 inventory photographs from the Amsterdam based Gallery Lemaire. This archive spans over 40 years of international, non-Western art-dealing activity from this well-known Dutch gallery. It was founded in 1933 by Matthias Lemaire and since then has been continually run by three generations of the family. The records unfortunately are not accessible online, but are open for research by appointment at the AAOA Visual Resource Archive – you can find more info here.

Matthias Lemaire, circa 1950. Photo courtesy of Finette Lemaire.
Matthias Lemaire, circa 1950. Photo courtesy of Finette Lemaire.

Catalogue online: The Jacqueline Loudmer Collection (Christies, Paris, 23 June 2016)

Jacqueline Loudmer Christie's 23 Juin 2016 Paris

I’m proud to announce my second catalogue for June: “Collection Jacqueline Loudmer – Succession Jacqueline Millodot”; you can browse it here. Besides 41 paintings and drawings (among which some important works by Fernand Léger), the sales holds 124 objects from Africa, Northern America and Oceania with provenances such as Beasley, Brandt, Degand, Dehondt, de Baillencourt, de Launoit, Friede, Furman, Gallibert, Harter, Hooper, Kerchache, Le Corneur, Loeb, Mazaraki, Mertens, Mestach, Meulendijk, Morigi, Ortiz, Perret, Pinto, Rassmussen, Ratton, Rockefeller, Schindler, Schoeller, Simpson, Tronche and Viot. Note that since it is an estate sale, the estimates are very modest in order to sell everything. Let the fact that there will be no reserve prices make it clear that we wish to find new owners for all objects 🙂

As we as well will offer the Emily Wingert estate during the various owners sale immediately following this auction (info), we will thus be selling the collections of two important female collectors of the 20th century. With the Bamana lady on the front of this catalogue, and the Luba-Shankadi cover girl for the various owners sale, it’s safe to say our two sales are all about women in African and Oceanic art. Jacqueline Loudmer, once married to Guy Loudmer (who organized several important African and Oceanic auctions in Paris in the 1970s), was a well know figure in the Paris art scene of the 1970s and 80s. Her personal collection, however, remained very private and features several great rediscoveries – but those I’ll let you discover yourself !

Jacqueline Loudmer Guy Christie's Paris african and oceanic art


An African statue on the cover of a French thriller

grange congo requiem vili figure art

One encounters African art in the strangest places; yesterday I was leaving Paris as I ran into this advertisement for the new book of Jean-Christophe Grange in Gare du Nord. On the front cover, I spotted a famous zoomorphic figure from the Democratic Republic of Congo. This Vili monkey figure was collected before 1884 and is currently in the collection of the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde (Leiden, The Netherlands) – see it in its full glory below. I haven’t read the book, but apparently the antagonist of this thriller is called l’Homme Clou (‘the nail man’).

Vili monkey figure. Height: 35 cm. Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Vili monkey figure. Height: 35 cm. Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden, The Netherlands.



“Masks of Central Africa” – a traveling exhibition in China

Masks of Central Africa Guandong

Great news from China. On April 29th 2016, a new exhibition about Congolese masks opened at the Guangdong Museum of Art in Canton. It is organized by Ethnic Art & Culture Ltd (Hong Kong) and curated by Marc Felix – who in the last decades has been doing a tremendous effort to stimulate and enlarge the appreciation of African art in China.

The show displays 120 Congolese masks from private collections, 15 with their complete costume, and 16 musical instruments that were used in masquerades (coming from Phoenix’s Musical instrument museum). Field photos from the RMCA Tervuren are displayed on the museum walls. You can see some installation shots here or here. The first weekend attracted 52,000 visitors, so it’s certainly a success story so far. The (free!) exhibition stays at the Guangdong Museum untill July 24th 2016 and will then travel:

  • August 2 till November 6, 2016 at the Nanjing Museum,
  • November 25 2016 till March 5, 2017 at the Gansu Provincial Museum,
  • March 24 till June 26 2017 at the Yunnan Provincial Museum,
  • July 7 till September 10 2017 at the Henan Museum.

There will be 2 catalogues of 352 pages in A4+ format, one in Chinese and one in English/French, containing 800 pictures. Twelve authors wrote essays for the catalogue: Viviane Baeke, David Binkley, Arthur Bourgeois, Kellim Brown, Rik Ceyssens, Pol-Pierre Gossiaux, Marc Leo Felix, Manuel Jordan, Constantine Petridis, Z. S. Strother, Julien Volper, and Pan Yanqin. The English/French edition of the catalogue will be for sale at Congo Gallery in Brussels during BRUNEAF.

Masks of Central Africa Marc Felix

Marc Felix was kind enough to send me some pictures from the installation in Guangdong.

Note that the local curator unfortunately took a bit of liberty with the exhibition's title.
Note that the local curator unfortunately took a bit of liberty with the exhibition’s title by adding a new main title.

Masks of Central Africa China Marc Felix exhibition 2

Masks of Central Africa China Marc Felix exhibition 3


Masks of Central Africa China Marc Felix exhibition 5

Masks of Central Africa China Marc Felix exhibition 6

Masks of Central Africa China Marc Felix exhibition 7

Masks of Central Africa China Marc Felix exhibition 8


My first auction catalogue online! (Christie’s, Paris, 23 June 2016)


I’m very proud to present my first auction catalogue for Christie’s, you can browse it here.


Christie's Paris 23 June 2016 Bruno Claessens African Art


So, now you know why it has been so quiet on the blog these last few weeks 🙂

The sale features an important selection of objects from the estate of Emily ‘Jazzy’ Wingert (1934-2015). Especially her Maori works are truly exceptional. Below the English translation of the catalogue note about Ms. Wingert:

“Stop the Bus!” : The Emily A. Wingert Collection of Oceanic and African Art

In the 1950’s, as a college student, Emily Wingert (1934-2015) was travelling downtown on the Third Avenue bus in Manhattan when she was struck by a window display of African art. She recalled calling out, “Stop the bus!”, because she was so captivated by what she saw that she had to have a closer look. It was the historic gallery of Julius Carlebach that changed the course of her life. The works of art left her hungry for more information, and she changed her major to anthropology at Columbia University.

She studied with renowned scholar, Paul Wingert, whom she would later marry. Together in 1962, they took a sort of honeymoon in the form of a year-long academic journey through the Pacific, with most of their time spent studying Maori art in New Zealand. It is surely the deep knowledge she gained during this time that eventually informed her important Maori acquisitions. That, along with her continuing passion for African and pre columbian art, inspired her to build an impressive collection.

Emily Wingert’s interests and talents were vast and varied, though. After Paul Wingert’s death in 1974, as the owner and CEO of Mark Ten Security in Montclair, she became one of New Jersey’s first female licensed private detectives. In 1988, she followed her passion for jazz and fine dining and created Trumpets, a jazz club and restaurant in Montclair. After 10 years, she sold Trumpets following a sudden and total hearing loss. Adjusting to her deafness, she joined an online discussion group known as the “Say What Club.” This organization became her new passion, and she helped lead a group of people who felt isolated DUE TO THEIR HEARING difficulties, into a mutually supportive community. As an early adopter of the Internet, Emily found that she could talk to people and regain some of the connectivity she had lost with her hearing.

Born into a collecting family, Emily Wingert, nevertheless, clearly was a woman ahead of her time and an original spirit. She would later describe her passion for collecting African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian art (in Vision, Montclair State College, Spring 1989): ‘Not only DO these pieces provide vibrant and exciting clues to the past, they are also great art forms that deserve as much of a place in the art world as works by Picasso or Matisse. I have donated works of art [to the Montclair State College Museum] with the hope that they will inspire others to study this art.’ Emily Wingert surely would be delighted to learn that the objects from her precious collection will come to enrich the lives of a new generation of collectors.

The ‘Stop the bus’ anecdote reminded me of the opening scene of Bell, Book and Candle (see it here), with features a recreation of Carlebach’s gallery in New York. Anyway, I’ll write more about our sale in the coming weeks. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you should have questions about any of our lots.