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As an attorney specializing in the art trade and in cultural property, who practices in both Brussels and Paris, Yves- Bernard Debie has been well known to this magazine’s readership for a number of years now for the depth of his analysis in the many fi ne articles he has penned for our Art + Law section. These past months, he has been a ubiquitous personality in the many debates, both on radio and television, regarding the question of the restitution of cultural property to Africa, making his oppositional point of view known. The passion and perspicacity we have become accustomed to hearing expressed through his vision of European law is as much a result of his expertise in legal matters as it is of his love for the history of the art forms themselves. This has become increasingly clear on the many occasions we have had the opportunity to converse with this accomplished jurist, who can recite Victor Hugo seconds after having elucidated the charms of the latest acquisition to his collection, doing so while holding a glass of a fi ne vintage in his hand. It was just a matter of time before we would present him in this part of the magazine and invite him to present his views in a more personal light. >>> To read the entire article click on the "PDF" button below.
Charles & Valérie Diker
October 4, 2018, marked a significant milestone at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. On that day, historical Native American art took its place in the museum’s American Wing in a new installation, Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection. The presentation represents the fi rst signifi cant display of Native art ever to be installed in the American Wing, which has been devoted to Euro-American art since it was established in 1924. Driven in large part by New York collectors and philanthropists Charles and Valerie Diker, this initiative is particularly important in that Native art has not been relegated to its own gallery but instead is now presented on an equal footing with Euro-American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts, together forming a complete panorama of the arts from the North American continent. Click on "PDF" to read the full article.
Nancy Blomberg - Tribute
I FIRST MET NANCY BLOMBERG in 2006 while developing an article about a major expansion at the Denver Art Museum. She met me at the door of the new Daniel Libeskind–designed buliding and showed me the recent installation of African art, a modest collection overshadowed by a masterpiece Fang mask. She then asked if I’d like to see some Native American art. Of course I would. We crossed the street to the older Gio Ponti building, went up an elevator, and entered her realm—nearly a full fl oor of the museum with a vast and extraordinary collection of American Indian material, both historic and contemporary. I don’t recall how long we spent looking at treasure after treasure, but I do know I missed subsequent appointments. She spoke of the material casually but sensitively, always emphasizing that any given object was art rather than artifact. The article we ran could not have been completed without her patient help, and she was always prompt and generous in providing information in the years since. Nancy was born Nancy Jean Bastian in Aurora, Illinois. Her first museum job was at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art. She had moved to Alaska with her husband, Art, who had been transferred there by the Air Force, and began as a volunteer. It wasn’t long before she was hired as a curator. She worked at museums in Los Angeles before joining the Denver Art Museum in 1974 as an associate curator. In her twenty-eight years there she rose to become the museum’s chief curator. Nancy’s emphasis was not only the “art” aspect of a given object, but also on the contribution of the artist who created it, and this was a focal point of her reinstallation of the Native American gallery in 2011, as well as the many exhibitions she produced. A woman working in a predominantly male field, her achievements had considerable visibility, and she served as an inspiration for many, though she likely never intended to. She will be missed. Jonathan Fogel
Ronald Noorman - Tribute
RONALD NOORMAN and his companion, Rijkje Dekker, have been familiar faces to the tribal art scene for decades now, frequently visiting shows and events in Brussels, Paris, and, of course, Amsterdam, where I visited their large and varied collection of tribal art. The sophisticated collection of fi ne combs, spoons, small charm figures, and a host of other treasures, all carefully arranged in tidy and aesthetically pleasing groups, was a real testimony to a passionate and ever-curious eye. Aside from being a talented collector, Ronald’s artistic talent was best known to all for his being an accomplished and strong-willed artist. After an education at the Rietveld Academie, where he learned to paint, he devoted himself exclusively to drawing throughout a long and accomplished career. In the words of Suzanna Héman, assistant conservator at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: “The intimacy of the art of drawing, in which the thought, through the hand, immediately touches the paper and which hardly leaves space for corrections, was Noorman’s ‘metier pur sang.’ His drawings are characterized by simple forms and move between abstraction and fi guration. In some drawings, elements of landscapes can be recognized, others are completely abstract. With charcoal, crayon, pastel, and gouache, Noorman searches for a balance between powerful and tender movements.” About the rather small format of most of his works, he himself wrote: “As an artist I am not easily impressed by big works. I prefer to stick to the human format. On small format I have to concentrate on power, monumentality, tension, spaciousness, and flow”—words that ring true and resounded in all his choices. Ronald Noorman passed away in March last year and is survived by his partner, Rijkje Dekker, and daughter, Romee. Alex Arthur
Martin Wright - Tribute
BORN IN 1930 into the Great Depression, Martin Wright never took his achievements for granted. A hard worker, he acquired an education in law and business administration and went on to specialize in tax law, which led him to a successful career as an attorney and a certified accountant. Married to Faith-dorian, an artist who loved and collected Native American, African, and Oceanic art, Martin became involved in the acquisition of an art form that at first was not familiar to him, but, in typical fashion, he strove to acquire the very best in these fields, eventually becoming an enamored and knowledgeable collector. Following his sense of adventure and his philosophical interest in art, Martin traveled from Easter Island to Mali, from Alaska to Bali, and to many other destinations throughout the world, but, on principle, his acquisitions were always made in Europe and in the United States. Together, he and Faith became influential members of the collection committees of leading museums, key among them the Israel Museum, for which Martin worked tirelessly and voluntarily to strengthen its holdings of African, Oceanic, and American Northwest Coast art. Martin became the Honorary Acting Senior Curator of the museum’s AOA Department and its galleries were named for him and Faith-dorian, anticipating a future in which, with their help, the Israel Museum would come to be considered one of the world’s important centers for African and Oceanic art. (...) Find the entire article in the Winter Issue of Tribal Art magazine (T90).
About ten of us are waiting in line to get in. I hear peacocks and parrots cawing in the distance, and the scents of nature and fl owers fill the spring air. A few minutes later, Steffen makes his appearance. His firm and friendly handshake, his self-assured demeanor, and his broad and sincere smile invite us to follow him. His house is located a few meters from the entrance to the Pairi Daiza, the famous animal park a few miles from the city of Mons in Belgium that has recently been named the best zoo in Europe. As I passed through the door to his place, I had the impression I was entering into a palace of a thousand treasures. Unusual sculptures were everywhere, illuminated by enchanting light fi xtures. A collection of korwars adorned the mantelpiece and Buddha statuettes were grouped together in a recessed niche, side by side with old maps. A group of shrunken heads elegantly lined up on a cabinet echoed the New Guinea fi gures and the Australian shields visible in nooks elsewhere in the room. In front of a library overfilled with books on exotic voyages, a superb albatross appeared to be flying off above our heads. The sounds of Gregorian chant, for which, he later told us, he has a particular fondness, were the musical backdrop to this scene. The ambience certainly was conducive to speaking in confidence.
Ezio Bassani - Tribute
AFTER A BRIEF ILLNESS, Ezio Bassani, the doyen of Italian Africanists, left us on a hot morning in the beginning of August 2018. He was about to reach his ninety-fourth birthday. He was tired but alert, and he was still working on a concept for a new exhibition a few days before his death. To the very end Bassani stayed true to himself: passionate, engaged, intransigent, and a “partisan” of the universal values that the African continent’s artistic expressions manifest. Bassani had been a real partisan long ago when he joined the resistance against fascism and Nazism in the later years of WWII. As he fought side by side with other young combatants in the mountains, he dreamed of a better future for Italy. In these dramatic circumstances he met Edmea, also a partisan, who became his wife, his muse, and his partner for seventy years. He had not yet fallen in love with African art, but this experience forged his character and shaped his nature. After the war, Bassani frequented a milieu of artists, and through them, almost by accident, he discovered African art. It was love at fi rst sight—a total and all but physical passion was born in him. Self-taught, he did what he could to learn about the fi eld in Italy, though it was practically unknown there. He studied, made observations and mistakes, and progressed until he found his path. The chance he had been waiting for was offered to him in the 1970s by noted art critic Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti, who opened the doors of the International University of Florence to him and oriented him toward the history of public and private collections, particularly the older and established ones. (...) Read more in the Winter Issue of Tribal Art magazine (T90).
For years now, a number of us have been wanting to tip our hats in respect to Raoul Lehuard, just to show our affection and appreciation for him. Time has passed, and nothing has been done, so I’m taking the opportunity to write about my friend Raoul and about the passion he has shared with us over the years through Arts d’Afrique Noire, the celebrated magazine that first appeared in 1972, which has helped many of us to better understand the African continent and its customs. Indeed Arts d’Afrique Noire was founded at an opportune moment, a time at which the public was ready to be seduced by the forms of artistic expression it is devoted to...