Paris Avant-Garde sale – 17 October
Splendors: Art of Africa, North America, and Oceania sale – 30 October
Christie’s is pleased to announce our fall sale season with two important sales in Paris. The Avant-Garde sale will feature several major African masterworks offered alongside works of Modern and Post-War Art on October 17, coinciding with the opening of Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (FIAC) week. On October 30 in Paris we will proudly offer: Splendors – Masterpieces from Africa, North America and Oceania – featuring works from a Princely Collection and a Distinguished American Private Collection. This exceptional sale of 50 masterworks features important African and Northwest Coast works of art from two private collections in one of the highest concentration of top quality offerings to come to market in several seasons. A celebration of transformative beauty, the North American offering focuses on a unique group of 18 Northwest Coast works from a distinguished private collection. The rare mastery of the Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and Kwakwaka’wakw people is truly remarkable, and the diversity of the offering illustrates the importance of beauty in every aspect of their creative endeavours. Works of art from a Princely Collection are an odyssey of classical forms of beauty from West and Central Africa’s major artistic centers, as well as art of Oceania, selected with superb taste and an eye for exquisite refinement.
Highlights from The Avant-Garde sale to includeThe Helena Rubinstein Baule maskLast seen on the market in the early 1990s this beautiful Baule mask rested quietly for almost three decades until its recent rediscovery in a private collection. With a perfectly balanced combination of abstraction and naturalism, this mask represents the distinguished skills of an accomplished Baule mastercarver. It serves as a palpable reminder that African beauty of this kind once set the aesthetic foundation for the birth and evolution of Western modern art. It comes as no surprise that this African jewel once belonged to Helena Rubinstein, the celebrated pioneer collector and patron of Modernism and the Avant-Garde
Highlights from Splendors: Masterpieces from Africa, North America and Oceaniasale to include
Tsimshian masks used in the Naxnox dance series are commonly considered as dramatizations of spirit beings. While many represent human frailties, or categorize social groups, some may depict as in the present case a celestial object. Designated as a representation of the spirit of the Upper Air this potent mask incarnates the visionary portraiture of a human face invested with supernatural power. Its aspect strikes one with its serene beauty and compelling expression. Gathered by G.T. Emmons, a historical figure at the turn of the 20th century involved in the collecting of some of the most important Northwest Coast artefacts, the mask was once part of the famous collection of the George Heye foundation.
Rattles were among the most important ceremonial objects used by shamans along the entire Northwest Coast. This rattle, sold by the trailblazing dealer Charles Ratton, belonged to Adelaide de Menil and Edmund Carpenter and is one of the finest examples of this spherical type in private hands. Of excellent Tlingit craftmanship it is carved in two sections and decorated in relief on both sides with grimacing faces in expression of some vision of some other humanity that only rattle maker and the shaman could see. In pristine condition, the surface is coated in blue-green pigments, a detail which further contributes to its peculiar charm and appeal.
One-of-a-kind and unforgettable, this Ligbi mask stands out as one of the most exquisite masks to come out of Ivory Coast’s Bondoukou region. This elegant do mask effortlessly blends a human face with the sharp and powerful beak of the hornbill, creating a spectacular, surrealist juxtaposition of human and zoomorphic elements. Its unexpected shape, referring to the essence of a bird, and its color of predominant black enhanced with vivid blue give it a mystical appearance while enhancing its beauty. This mythical mask was one of the longstanding icons of the Barbier-Mueller museum in Geneva, Switzerland.
Widely published and exhibited, this Songye statue is one of the icons of African art. This Songye male power figure is encrusted with copper nails, each of which represents a ritual act. The deep eye sockets and open mouth give the figure a sense of sublime power and magic. The striking artwork was featured on the cover of Wild Spirits – Strong Medicine: African Art and the Wilderness, in 1989 and was included in the widely acclaimed exhibition Primitivism in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1984. It previously was in the collection of Robert Rubin, founding trustee of the Museum for African Art in New York and a major collector in the field. Rubin was known to seek out only the finest examples from each culture and the dispersal of his private collection in 2011 was a market-changing sale.
The Splendors: Art of Africa, North America, and Oceania sale will also include a group of five works coming from the estate of Pierre Matisse. Pierre Matisse, youngest son of Henri Matisse, was a brilliant and prescient art dealer, who represented established European modernists such as Derain, Rouault, and Chagall and Lam in his New York gallery. Matisse played a crucial role in the promotion of non-Western art in America, including it in numerous of his exhibitions, such as “African sculpture from the collection of Charles Ratton” in the spring of 1935. Our October sale will include a highly important, previously unknown, Ambete statue acquired from this Parisian dealer.  This figure belongs to a small group of Ambete reliquary figures collected by Aristide Courtois when he worked as a French colonial administrator in Gabon between 1910 and 1936. Statues of this group can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art by (also previously in the collection of Pierre Matisse, #2002.456.7), the Dapper Foundation (#0127), and the Swiss Barbier-Mueller museum (#1019-86).
Paris Avant-Garde sale – 17 October
Splendors: Art of Africa, North America, and Oceania sale – 30 October
Christie’s : 9 avenue Matignon, 75008 Paris

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