Latest people reviews
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 fi eld 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.
For François Boulanger, whose good-natured silhouette is well known to every Belgian tribal art dealer, “collectors do not readily appreciate the true value of small ethnographic pieces.” That is how humbly he qualifies the works in his collection, which is as atypical as it is exceptional. In the course of the last twenty-five years, François, with the unwavering support of his wife Françoise (many collectors would envy him for her limitless devotion to the cause of the collection), has amassed no fewer than 900 African works. “But these are only small objects,” he says, a bit defensively, “musical instruments, 500 sanzas— at one time, I had nearly as many as Tervuren. And there are also the drums and whistles.”...
James W. Reid - Tribute
Col. James W. Reid, a retired U.S. military offi cer who had been decorated during the Vietnam War with the Legion of Merit for his “outstanding meritorious services” in honor of his key role in General Westmoreland’s clandestine “Operation Vesuvius” in Cambodia in 1967–68, passed away in December of 2016 at the age of eighty-three. Within the scope of his many achievements, he is perhaps best known to the readers of these pages as one of the world’s foremost authorities on Peruvian textiles and a frequent contributor to this magazine. More than just textiles, he specialized in the art, archaeology, history, religion, sociology, and political institutions of Pre-Hispanic South America, and he sought to bring these subjects to the attention of the public, often using the lens of contemporary art to express his perspectives. His academic background included degrees from England’s 600-year-old Winchester College, Princeton University (BA), and Stanford University (MA), as well at studies at the Institute de Sciences Politiques in Paris at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts and doctoral work at the Universidad de Buenos Aires.
Seward Kennedy - Tribute
I first met Seward Kennedy soon after I started working for Bonham’s, London, in late 1988, and we formed a friendly relationship shortly thereafter. We shared a liking not only for nice ethnographical objects but also for the banter and comradeship that was found on Portobello Road’s Saturday mornings. At that time, Seward was coming to the end of a hyperactive collecting phase. He had seen so much and came to believe that the barrel of cornucopic riches was getting close to empty. About the time I left Bonham’s a few years later, he mentioned that if I ever needed some things to sale, I should give him a call and he could see what he could part with. He lived around the corner from me on Gledhow Gardens in South Kensington, and it was easy for me to pass by. I well remember one of our fi rst transactions. I had a client who wanted to collect ibeji twin fi gures, and Seward said that he had some. We made a rendezvous and at the appointed hour, he strolled over with two carry bags full of ibejis, maybe a dozen couples in all. We agreed on some prices, and later that evening the client came by. As the quality was excellent and the prices reasonable, he bought most of them. The payment was quick, and Seward was content. I had no idea how many ibejis he possessed, but on the client’s subsequent visit to London, I asked Seward again, and he duly popped over with another very saleable tranche. This went on for several years, and in the end I must have sold more than a hundred of them. (...)