90
90
Guro-Bete Mask by the Master of Gonate, Ivory Coast
Estimate
60,00090,000
LOT SOLD. 112,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
90
Guro-Bete Mask by the Master of Gonate, Ivory Coast
Estimate
60,00090,000
LOT SOLD. 112,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art

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New York

Guro-Bete Mask by the Master of Gonate, Ivory Coast

Provenance

Reportedly Mr. Kranz, art dealer in Berlin
Private Collection, Berlin, acquired at an auction of the estate of the above in 1969
Private European Collection, acquired from the above

Exhibited

Grand Palais, Paris, XXVIe Biennale des Antiquaires, September 14 - 23, 2012

Literature

Bernard de Grunne, XXVIe Biennale des Antiquaires, Brussels, 2012, pp. 46-47, cat. 16

Catalogue Note

In the study of the history of African Art, the notion of the individual artist was not introduced until 1935 when Hans Himmelheber identified nineteen artists from Ivory Coast in his groundbreaking Negerkünstler (Negro Artists).  Two years later, the Belgian art historian Frans Olbrechts identified a body of work created by "The Master of the Long Face of Buli," referring to a now famous Luba carver active in the 19th century.  Subsequently, the identification of authorship and workshops has become an increasingly important focus of African art history.  Following the methodologies established in ancient Greek and Medieval art history, the identification of an artist's body of work is based on stylistic and contextual evidence, and often names of convenience are used as a result of the ignorance of the artist's actual name.

It was in 1985 when Eberhard Fischer and Hans Himmelheber suggested in the context of their important exhibition at the Rietberg Museum Zurich Die Kunst der Guro, Elfenbeinküste that two masks in the Rietberg Museum's collection (inv. nos. "RAF 500 & 507", collected before 1928 and 1932, respectively), one mask at the Ethnographic Museum, University of Zurich (previously Han Coray Collection), as well as one mask in a private New York collection were works by the same artist whom they called the "Master of Gonate" (Fischer and Himmelheber 1985: 44 with pls. 11-13; for an amended English version see Fischer 2008: 343-345 with pls. 343-346).

Regarding one of the two masks at the Rietberg Museum (inv. no. "RAF 507"), featuring two curved horns, Fischer (2008: 343-344) notes: "Gonate is a village with a mixed population of Guro and Bete people in the region between Buafle and Daloa. [...] This master's masks - worn at an angle in front of the face and hence neither true face masks nor helmet masks - are carved out of lightweight wood and seem to be almost rectangular.  Perhaps the most subtle mask by the Master of Gonate is in the von der Heydt collection, now in the Museum Rietberg Zurich and published in 1932. [... The hairstyle is] indicated only by three parallel ridges separated by grooves, which form the M-shaped hairline.  Below this, a high forehead is marked down the middle by a vertical scar.  Slightly raised semicircles surround the the elliptical eye-slits, half closed by the heavy upper lids.  The relatively short but high, and in cross-section triangular, nose ends abruptly without nose-wings but has two nostrils burned in. [...] The ears are highly geometrical, each carved as a flat, raised, three-quarter circle. [...] All masks by the master of Gonate are clearly shaped with softly modeled planes, decorative details in slightly raised relief work, and usually a particularly expressive mouth."

Close comparison of the present lot with the known corpus of works by the Master of Gonate allow to identify it as another work by the same hand - in fact, it is one of the artist's finest creations.  The discovery of this mask is a remarkable event and a significant addition to the known corpus of works by this important Guro-Bete artist.

African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art

|
New York