The sale of African and Oceanic art concluded in Paris with an outstanding total of €8 million. The Viviane Jutheau, Comtesse de Witt Collection totalled €5.4 million with 91% of lots sold and ten lots above €250,000.
Drawn from the very heart of African art, Viviane Jutheau, Comtesse de Witt's collection of African art masterly combined the archaism of the works with a highly modern sculptural style. All the works express both the classicism of the great African art styles and the originality of the artists who imbued them with their individual creative genius.
The sale was led by a Kota mask which achieved €847,500, a world record for a Kota mask. This rare large dance mask is a masterpiece from the former Solvit collection. During this auction, the bidders recognized the quality of this rare piece and eventually the mask over-doubled its high estimate of €300,000.
Viviane Jutheau, the first female auctioneer in Paris, began to assemble what has become one of the most striking collections of African art after meeting celebrated art expert André Schoeller at the beginning of the 1980s. It embraces the core of African art, where strength and sensitivity, archaism and modernity meet in dialogue. The art of Gabon – Fang, Kota, Kwele – is the main focus of the collection: each artwork testifies to the individual genius of its sculptor and of the institutions which fed their imagination.
The collection charts the discovery of this art in the West at the beginning of the 20th century, with major figures such as Paul Guillaume, Walter Bondy, Roger Bédiat, Charles Ratton and later André Schoeller, as well as the legendary exhibitions in Paris and New York, all contributing to its recognition. Beyond the collection, Viviane Jutheau, whose family has had close links with Africa for three generations, conceived a manifesto where ‘African art is not a way of making, it is at first a way of being, a way of being more’ (Aimé Césaire, 1966).