Tribal Christmas at Sotheby’s

Paris, 29 November 2018

Saturday 12 December, Sotheby's is organising two exceptional sales of African and Oceanic art to conclude the tribal year in style. From 3pm onwards, many lots from the anonymous collection of “Monsieur Z” will be dispersed. The session will be divided into three essential parts, illustrating the life and career of this discreet collector.

Since the end of the Second World War, Z has been involved in the avant-garde artistic circles that have emerged in the Brussels region. He works with the members of the CoBrA group: Pierre Alechinsky, Christian Dotremont, Karel Appel or Asger Jorn. He acquires remarkable works directly from these artists over the years. Through its choices and affinities, the Z collection perfectly illustrates the spirit of the group, as Christian Dotremont reminds us: “art must have roots”. A thought common to Z, which at the same time enriches its collection of tribal artworks (Africa and Oceania). As Corneille, a member of the CoBrA group, points out, “African art [...] is a primary art [...] which has not yet experienced any real decadence.” Z acquired several major masterpieces, including a Niembo-style Hemba statue and a Sikasingo statue of the famous Master of Fizi. The latter, estimated between €300,000 and €500,000, is typical of the production attributed to this sculptor from the Lake Tanganyika region. It has a powerful body with a thick, cylindrical torso, very tight legs, arms treated in cut sections and a bulge of the shoulders thrown forward.

Sikasingo Figure, H. 54 cm., Prov. : P. Dartevelle and Emile Deletaille, estim. : EUR 300,000 to 500,000

An artistic richness that Z completes with the acquisition of contemporary creations, according to encounters and evolutions. A blueprint signed by Christo will be proposed, The Floating fabric, Biscayne Bay project, Miami (1983). It is estimated €150,000 to €200,000. A work by Antonio Saura will also be on sale, Annie in her armchair (1967), estimated €130,000 to €180,000.

The dispersion of the Z collection will be followed by a real end-of-year fashion show bringing together items from Papua New Guinea, Polynesia, Ivory Coast or Congo… Two masterpieces will attract all lusts. First, an exceptional Luba Shankadi headrest, attributed to the Master of Cascading Hairdressing. There are only 18 such works attributed to this prestigious sculptor. The cascading headdress represented on this headrest, called mikanda, was documented by European travellers who travelled through the region in the late 19th century. It disappeared completely around 1928-1930. “This is the most emblematic and sophisticated work of the Master of Cascade Hairdressing”, says Alexis Maggiar, European Director of African and Oceania Arts at Sotheby’s. “For the third time since 2006, Sotheby’s will have the privilege of offering for sale in Paris one of the rare works by this inimitable artist.”

Luba Shankadi Headrest, H. 17 cm., Prov. : Ch. Ratton, Alain de Monbrison, Merton Simpson and Murray Frum, Estimate Upon Request

Another exclusive piece is the reliquary figure Kota Obamba attributed to the master of the Sébé (Gabon), estimated €700,000 to 1 million euros. “This master is one of the rarest on the African art market," says Alexis Maggiar. It is also one of the most archaic. We find here all the expression of his individual artistic genius.” These two masterpieces also have a common liability, since they belonged to collectors Charles Ratton and Murray Frum. Two of the most emblematic names in 20th century tribal art.

Among the other treasures on offer is a Fang statue from Gabon from the Paul Guillaume collection (between €600,000 and €800,000). Also worth seeing is the Pectoral Rei Miro from Easter Island. An absolute masterpiece of Polynesian art, estimated between €300,000 to €400,000. The public exhibition of the works at Sotheby’s begins Saturday 8 December at 10am until the day of the sale, Saturday 12 December at 3pm.

Pectoral Rei miro, Easter Island, H. 43,5 cm., estim. : EUR 300,000 to 400,000