A special sale

Paris, 15 September 2018

There are certain auction sales that mark their time by establishing a new trend or signalling a change in era. This was what the Victor Choquet sale did for Cézanne, or Sean Scully for Pop Art. And perhaps Pierre Loos will trigger the popularity of Congolese modern artists in a similar way?

“During my three-part sale, fifty years of my life are going to go by, corresponding with what I am, my desire to transmit things to others. For someone like me who’s had the luck to travel, leaving without transmission is like running away like a thief. While some construct walls, I prefer bridges.” The renowned Belgian dealer is getting set to sell part of his large collection over three consecutive sales to be held at Piasa on 17 and 18 September.

The first will be for ethnographic and primitive arts – around 500 lots whose estimates tend towards fairly reasonable prices. Up for grabs will be numerous headrests, Kuba textiles from Kasai (which Pierre Loos helped to bring to public attention), and votive statuettes...

The second sale will be devoted to photographer Casimir Zagourski. “This man from Poland arrived in Congo in 1927 after leaving the Tsarist army under Bolshevik pressure,” Pierre Loos explains. Originally, he was an aviation photographer in the imperial army. As a photographer in Kinshasa, he went about his craft differently from others: he photographed people. Making six or seven trips to tribal groups in an old Ford T, he produced nearly 1,600 shots from which he singled out 440 that he printed in postcard format as well as fifty or so bigger single prints.” Finally, the main sale will feature Congolese modern art (1920-1960), which Pierre Loos collected with a passion – aided by his useful contacts in Belgian colonial circles, who often saw these paintings as the naïve expression of indigenous peoples. In particular, the sale will feature artists from Romain Desfossés’ studio. Pierre Loos had loaned a large part of his collection to the “Beauté Congo” exhibition organised by André Magnin at the Fondation Cartier in 2014. A few pieces by leading artists from the Desfossés studio, including Pilipili Mulongoy, Bela, Raphaël Kalela, Sylvestre Kaballa and Mwenze Kibwanga, will be placed on sale (with estimates ranging from roughly €4,000 to €15,000). The major piece will be a paravent jointly produced by Pilipili Mulongoy, Bela and Raphaël Kalela, estimated at between €150,000 and €200,000. “I’m not counting on getting high prices because it’s the start, but I’m cherishing the hope that this sale will set up a base from which the Congolese modern-art market can develop. I think there’s going to be a boom,” Pierre Loos predicts.

It should also be noted that the Belgian dealer is preparing to open a consultancy firm specialising in Congolese modern art, and that with Thomas Boyer, he’s been preparing a detailed publication on the topic for several years. “This book will become the bible for Congolese painting from 1928 to 1960,” the dealer enthuses. “No one can produce anything better because we have access to thirty years of purchases that I’ve made, and numerous archives that we’ve put together.”

Primitive Arts and Ethnography. 17 September 2018. Modern African Art. 18 September 2018. Photographs by Casimir Zagourski. 18 September 2018. Piasa. 118 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Paris. France. www.piasa.fr