The sale of African and Oceanic art concluded by
Sotheby's on December 14 in Paris realized an outstanding total of €8 million.
Just after the sale of the collection of Viviane
Jutheau, Comtesse de Witt, a remarkable selection of African and Oceanic Art
from private collectors fetched €2.6 million, with 83% of lots sold. Here the
iconic works or ones making their first appearance at auction celebrated the
prodigious formal inventiveness of artists from these continents and their
impact on 20th-century art.
The sale was punctuated by three acquisitions by
museums including two by the Quai Branly which enriched its collections with a
Iatmul orator's stool and a Kanak spear, while an American institution acquired
a Kongo Nkonde figure.
The sale was led by a Lega figure which achieved
€487,500. Collected between 1922 and 1947, this Lega figure, whose four heads
probe all directions of the horizon, is one of the rarest and most iconic works
in African art. Personifying Sakimatwematwe - the initiate of the highest rank
who "sees and knows things unseen
and unknown to others" - these figures, whose Surrealist aesthetic
embodies the most important philosophical concepts in the Bwami secret society,
were only revealed to the highest rank initiates.
This session was also a real consecration for Oceanic
art. The drum from the Torres Strait, Melanesia, one of the oldest samples of
Melanesian drums probably acquired in situ by John Graham, soared to €391,500.