Pre-Columbian Art auction at Binoche and Giquello
Building on the success of its previous sales of pre-Columbian art in 2018, Binoche and Giquello presents a new and very diverse sale of South American archaeology, which will satisfy small and large collectors with a weighed mixture of ceramics, hard stone works, small figurines and some notable examples of Colombian goldsmithery. Among the masterpieces of the sale are the imposing and geometric Mezcala statues (lots 106 and 83), the zoomorphic hacha of Veracruz, the Chupicuaro statuettes, or the figurative Mayan ceramics, here illustrated by a beautiful expressive jaguar (lot 128) and a beautiful black Mayan vase with glyphs (lot 80). The price records will probably go on the side of Jalisco ceramics with a very good example of a wrestler (lot 88), but we can also note, more off the beaten track, some rare pearls like a very nice couple of statuettes Chorrera (lot 18), a particularly original Mayan hacha (lot 19), or an expressive warriors head from Veracruz (lot 120). Finally, novice collectors should be be satisfied with a large number of pieces at reasonable prices that easily allow entry into the acquisition market with fine items. The pre-Columbian market is far from moribund.
Over the last year, Fenimore Art Museum lost its beloved friends and benefactors, Clare E. and Eugene V. Thaw. The couple had a profound impact on the museum with their gifts of masterpieces of American Indian art that grew to nearly 900 over the course of twenty-two years. Shaped by the Thaws’ remarkable vision, The Thaw Collection of American Indian Art is widely recognized as one of the world’s most signifi cant collections of American Indian art. A special exhibition at the Fenimore, Eugene and Clare Thaw: A Memorial Tribute, on view until December 30, 2018, displays the initial pieces collected by Clare and Eugene when they fi rst discovered American Indian art in Santa Fe during the 1980s.
The Fowler at UCLA
For more than two millennia, ironworking has shaped African cultures in the most fundamental ways. Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths is an international traveling exhibition that combines scholarship with objects of great aesthetic beauty to create the most comprehensive treatment of the blacksmith’s art in Africa. The exhibition will include more than 225 artworks from across the African continent, focusing on the region south of the Sahara and covering a time period spanning early archaeological evidence to the present day. Borrowed from American and European public and private collections, it also features wood sculptures studded with iron, blades, and currencies in a myriad of shapes and sizes, diverse musical instruments, body dornments, an array of ritual accoutrements, tools and weapons, and other important objects that enabled Africans to forage and hunt, till the soil, and assure their own protection and prosperity. Currently presented at the Fowler Museum at UCLA it will travel to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., and the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris. An interview with exhibition curator Tom Joyce is presented elsewhere in this issue, and a feature about the show itself will appear in our winter edition. Also at the Fowler is a show focusing on the Maroon peoples, who hold a special place in the history of Africans and their descendants in the Americas. Their enslaved ancestors escaped the coastal plantations of the Dutch colony of Suriname and established free communities, with whom the colonial authorities eventually negotiated formal peace treaties. The Maroons—or Fiiman (Freemen or Free People), as many prefer to call themselves—have long been renowned for tembe, traditional art forms including architectural designs, vibrantly hued textiles, and intricately carved utilitarian objects such as serving trays, combs, and canoe paddles. Drawn from the museum’s permanent collection, the objects included in Fiiman Tembe: Maroon Arts in Surinam, on display at the Fowler Museum at UCLA until September 9, 2018, exemplify these objects’ eye-catching use of color and geometric pattern.
MADAGASCAR: Arts of the Great Red Island
Madagascar’s history did not begin in 1500, the year the Portuguese fi rst arrived there. The island’s name had been on world maps since 1459 and several centuries before that Arab and Persian traders had established commercial outposts on its northern part. Archaeological research has uncovered material evidence demonstrating that cultures during what corresponds to the Medieval Period in Europe had made Madagascar a vital locus for trade in the Indian Ocean. Decorative arts, funerary sculpture, painting, photography and contemporary creation: more than 350 pieces unveil the art, history and cultures of Madagascar, a land of exchanges and influences. The exhibition at the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac is the only major one to be devoted to the full range of the arts of Madagascar since the 1946 Musée de l’Homme show, nothing of this scope has previously been seen. A not to be missed exhibition, on view until January 1st.
Paintings from Afar
“Dare to look in order to learn” could have been the subtitle for the Peintures des Lointains (Paintings from Afar) exhibition at the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, on view on the West Mezzanine until January 6, 2019. Sarah Ligner, who has been head of the Historic and Contemporary Globalization Heritage Unit at the museum since 2015 and is the curator of this show, has chosen to highlight the museum’s collection of paintings for the fi rst time. This installation presents 220 canvases and works on paper drawn from the approximately 500 works that constitute the museum’s holdings in this fi eld. These pieces date from between the end of the eighteenth and the middle of the twentieth centuries and have been little seen, despite the fact that they include works by artists of great renown such as Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, and Émile Bernard, to name just a few.
Africa. The Religions of Ecstasy
A comprehensive temporary exhibition at the Musée d’Ethnographie in Geneva will examine the many and varied religions, past and present, of the African continent. Beginning on May 18, 2018, "Afrique. Les religions de l’extase" ("Africa. The Religions of Ecstasy") will present nearly 400 pieces, most hitherto unseen, from the MEG’s collection. Ethnographic objects, photographs, filmed interviews, and video installations will be used to illustrate the dynamism of the diversity of the forms of worship in Africa, as well as those in Europe and the Americas where religious practices were disseminated through the diaspora. The Religions of Ecstasy will be an immersive experience in magical and mystical ambience. Here religion hinges on the connections between living and invisible beings. The show’s common thread is religious ecstasy— losing oneself in the quest for communion and connection with the sacred world. The show will be divided into four parts: monotheistic religions, “fundamental” autochthonous African religions, possession cults, and the magico-religious African universes. Contemporary photographs will illustrate the fervor of worshippers during rituals or pilgrimages, and videos will examine and explain their perspectives.
Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher have been capturing striking images of Africa for decades. Their most recent project, African Twilight: Vanishing Rituals & Ceremonies, once again presents the remarkable beauty and magic of traditional cultures on the brink of irreversible change. On July 7, 2018, the Bowers Museum will present the world premiere of a stunning exhibition featuring eighty-five photographs and fifteen films covering the last fifteen years of Beckwith and Fisher’s work in more than forty-five African nations. Their images capture the continent’s vast cultural diversity while documenting profound moments of commonality in the human life cycle, including unique initiation ceremonies, colorful courtship rituals, the splendor of power in royal kingdoms, and intimate healing practices for the living and the dead. African Twilight is organized by Photokunst and will be on view at the Bowers until January 6, 2019, after which it will travel to other venues. A large-format book will be published by Rizzoli in October 2018.
Neanderthal: the exhibit
Neither merely a fossil or wild inferior being, Neanderthal was for a long time an underestimated species by his modern successor: Homo Sapiens, us. In order to help them regain some prestige, the Musée de l’Homme has prepared an exhibition honouring this long-gone species. After treading upon the Earth for more than 350 000 years, Neanderthals could teach us a lot about adapting to change at a time where we have to face major climatic changes ourselves. The exhibition tries to place Homo neandertalensis in his own environment, habitat as well as in his place in the history of Evolution. The museum has produced an educative exhibition that is very attached to virtual mediums and life-size reproductions. However, art does not completely surrender its place to science and the exhibit also shows the cultural side of our ancestors—from sculpting bones or creating jewellery to making stone tools. Finally, the exhibition offers a sociological approach to observe and discover the perceptions we had of Neanderthals for the past centuries. The exhibit will be also presented in Montpellier as well as at the Canadian museum of history, in Gatineau.
Adventures in the Andes and Amazonia
The International Photography Forum of the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen is presenting Adventures in the Andes and Amazonia, which will be on view through January 20, 2019. The show honors the 150th anniversary of the expedition to South America undertaken by geologist Wilhelm Reiss, a native of Mannheim. In 1868, he set out to explore the Andes and Amazonia, and his travels took him over nearly half of the South American continent, from Colombia to Brazil. The exhibition presents a vast number of photographs taken during the time of this trip. Sepia tones, albumen effects, and great depth of fi eld characterize his landscapes and his portraits of the indigenous people. The show is complemented by a selection of cultural objects and by excerpts from the explorer’s writings.
I am the Other in Roma
Two renowned European institutions—the Museo Nazionale Romano and the Museo delle Culture di Lugano—have combined their resources this fall to produce an exceptional exhibition in the Eternal City that will feature eighty masterpieces of twentieth-century modern sculpture and of African and Oceanic art, as well as a selection of Pre-Columbian works. Titled Je suis l’autre: Giacometti, Picasso e gli altri. Il Primitivismo nella scultura del Novecento (I Am the Other: Giacometti, Picasso, and the Others. Primitivism in Twentieth-Century Sculpture), the exhibition features works by Picasso, Giacometti, Derain, Braque, Dubuffet, and Klein, among others, all of whom found their inspiration in art nègre, masterpieces of which are juxtaposed with these European sculptures. The exhibition focuses on recreating the personal, internal, and artistic quests of the twentieth- century Western artists who encountered these arts, and it examines the innovative forms they produced and their capacity for both material and conceptual synthesis. Western artists could only envy the qualities they found in non-Western sculpture, which were exactly what they were looking for as they strove to free themselves from existing academic constraints. African and Oceanic artworks were hailed as a true liberation, and this is the primary point that the exhibition seeks to demonstrate. It will be on view through January 20, 2019, in the monumental galleries of the Baths of Diocletian.