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In the following interview Clamra Célestin tells us about his lifelong involvement with African tribal art, from his boyhood in Chad to his present life in New York and Paris. His early experiences with the art as healing implements offer insights beyond those collectors usually have. And his observations from the perspective of an African collector provide us with food for thought. Clamra’s life as a collector is indeed a case study. From his early years of buying contemporary African sculpture to satisfy a hunger for the art to his advanced connoisseurship of African tribal art, his story contains much to which we can relate. As happens with so many of us, there was a turning point after which he was able to recognize authentic ritually used ancestral art. In his case, this happened during his apprenticeship with famed collector Werner Muensterberger. Clamra’s sense of purpose as a collector and ancestral guardian has freed him from the conflicts often found in the pursuit of collecting tribal art. He is a dedicated collector who continues to learn, trusts his instincts, and remembers his raison d’être. His memoir is scheduled to be published in English at the end of 2017 by Ohio University Press. The French version, titled "Fils du Ciel: De Kindiri à Manhattan", was published by l’Harmattan in Paris in 2011. Discover the full interview by downloading the PDF below or click here : https://youtu.be/Nswxxej4ioA for more info!
Faith-dorian Wright - Tribute
Faith-dorian Wright, a devotee of the arts and a woman with great artistic energy, was born in Brooklyn, New York, where she grew up with an appreciation for art that was instilled in her by her mother. Already recognized for her artistic talent in high school, she was accepted into a special New York City program for gifted children, the first of its kind at the time. Inquisitive and curious, she insisted as a young girl that she wanted to study science, an unusual choice for woman in the 1950s, and went on to complete a bachelor of science degree at New York University in 1955. She continued her education, completing a master of arts degree at New York University and going on to post-graduate studies at the Pratt Institute and the Parsons School of Design, followed by a successful career that distinguished her both as an educator and as an exhibiting artist. Her works enhance museum collections in the U.S., Europe, India, and Israel. She married attorney Martin Wright in 1955 and together they raised their two children. Her deep interest in tribal art developed while at New York University, where she was taught by Robert Goldwater, the first director of the Museum of Primitive Art, and Hale Woodruff, the African-American artist, who also was a collector of African art. Tribal art became a source of inspiration for her, and this was the impetus for her and Martin’s deep and shared passion for collecting in this field... Discover the full article by downloading the PDF below!
Federico Benthem - Tribute
On February 16, 2017, Federico embarked on the most intense voyage of his life—the one that would take him to the next world. Born in the Andalusian town of Málaga on November 20, 1944, Federico Benthem Gross was the grandson of Julia Loring Heredia, the third Marquesa of Casa Loring, and of Ricardo Gross Orueta, the founder of the Museo Loringiano de Arqueologia de Málaga. While still a young child, Federico received an important gift of artworks from his grandfather. It marked the beginning of his life as a collector and the birth of a limitless passion for archaeology and antiquity that would shape his existence. At the age of eighteen, Federico left for Barcelona to pursue architecture studies. During this time, he also took his first trips to the American continent, where he visited Peru and especially Mexico, developing interest in the pre-Hispanic cultures, the artworks of which he actively began to collect. He was a tireless adventurer and traveled the world as his passion for the traditional cultures of the Americas, Africa, Oceania, and Asia continued to grow. His enduring fascination for art and culture gave rise to his decision to become an art dealer... Discover the full article by downloading the PDF below!
The Italo-Swiss businessman Luciano Lanfranchi has been an important art collector for more than forty years. Surrounded by an eclectic array of paintings and sculptures from all corners of the world, Luciano has a very personal approach but at the same time demonstrates the importance of being well prepared to make informed choices in the fi eld of tribal art. Tribal Art Magazine: When we fi rst met more than twenty years ago, I remember that you had a great collection of traditional African art—with some world-renowned masterpieces such as the Blanckaert Hemba fi gure—alongside a wonderful collection of modern art. Can you tell me what inspired you to start collecting African art back in the 1980s? Luciano Lanfranchi: My rapport with African art (and “primitive art” in general) started in 1984 in New York on the occasion of the now legendary “Primitivism” in 20th Century Art exhibition at MoMA. I was both fascinated and taken aback by the show!
In a field where an abiding question is, “Why are there no young collectors?” Javier Peres stands out, not only as a remarkably active collector who is in his early forties, but as an individual who is unusually passionate about African art. His contemporary art gallery, Peres Projects, is currently based in Berlin but has a presence at just about every art fair of any consequence. This grew from smaller spaces, fi rst in San Francisco and then in Los Angeles, New York, and Athens. Wherever his base of operations has been, Peres has made a splash on the international art scene with his bold selection of artists and artworks and his hardcore style as a gallerist. Over the years his stable of artists has included such names as Terence Koh, Bruce LaBruce, assume vivid astro focus, Joe Bradley, Dan Colen, Dash Snow, Agathe Snow, Kirstine Roepstorff, Alex Israel, David Ostrowski, Brent Wadden, Leo Gabin, and Mark Flood. His artists’ works have been included in such prestigious juried events as the Venice Biennale, the Whitney Biennial, the Tate Triennial, and the Sao Paulo Biennial, to name just a few of their accolades. While his work with contemporary art is famous and even infamous in the art world, his relationship with African art has been little discussed but has long been a major part of his life and his aesthetic perception. We recently paid a visit to his beautiful Berlin apartment, had a cup of tea in a Peter Shire mug, and talked about the truly remarkable collection of African art around us, which comfortably shared the space with large canvases by major-name contemporary painters, many of whose notable careers he helped build.
Long known to a small circle of cognoscenti, Pierluigi Peroni’s boundless love for small African art objects has gained in notoriety since the publication in August of 2015 of the book Micromonumentalité (5 Continents Editions), which is devoted to his collection. More recently, in the spring of 2016, a selection of 300 of his objects was presented to the public in a temporary exhibition at the Jagiellonian Library in Kraków, accompanied by a catalog titled Small: Hidden World of Africa. Having thus come to our attention, we were anxious to meet him and learn more about his interests. The opportunity presented itself in Paris last autumn, and our conversation was animated, to say the least. Tribal Art Magazine: You are originally from Italy, a country that has demonstrated relatively little enthusiasm for tribal art. How did your interest in African art develop? Pierluigi Peroni: I was born in Gallarate, in the province of Varese, but Italy isn’t where I discovered tribal art. I came across it in my travels. When I was very young, five or six years old, I began to accompany my grandfather, who was a hunter, on his trips to Africa. We went there two or three time a year for many years, and we visited Namibia, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Zimbabwe, the Congo, Burkina Faso, and Cameroon, to name just a few places. All that to say that these hunting expeditions, which happened some fifty years ago now, afforded me the opportunity to visit some extremely remote places.
Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller - Tribute
Jean-Paul, when I reread the hundreds of emails you sent me, I worry that my weak prose might make you smile. Because everything is to be found in what you wrote: biblical, literary, and artistic knowledge; clever commentary, often humorous and sometimes ferocious. Your judgments on our common passions—on dealers, collectors, auction houses—have been as expected as they were feared, and they were always pertinent. Your superb magazine, Arts and Cultures, was a refl ection of its founder, and the two words of its title perfectly express and embody who you are. Your son Gabriel, who produced an exhibition on the Samurai, said of this order that they wanted to teach honor, benevolence, loyalty, writing, and poetry to the young. You have done all that—as a collector, a museum director, an exhibition curator, and a researcher, but particularly as a friend.
When I was fourteen, I was struggling with a strict Greco-Latin curriculum, and my father enrolled me in evening courses in art school to offer me some distraction. I began painting the following year, and I was an art instructor by the time I was twenty-one. In 1977, while visiting Joseph Henrion, a sculptor and collector of Kongo art, I saw two Shoowa embroideries and was fascinated by their power. I was driven to comprehend their geometric designs, and I would subsequently see twelve thousand of them and own several hundred. The next year, while visiting the Cairo Museum, I was able to visit its storage and see cases fi lled with piles of small, archaic tribal sculptures, cracked and crazed so fi nely that their trunks absorbed light like dark velvet. I began to think about Sub-Saharan Africa, an artproducing area I had never really considered before. Henrion introduced me to the most important players on the Brussels tribal art scene at the time, most notably Willy Mestach, Pierre Dartevelle, Marc Leo Felix, Philippe Guimiot, and Martial Bronsin.