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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, CALIFORNIA

Kota Reliquary Figure, Gabon
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171

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, CALIFORNIA

Kota Reliquary Figure, Gabon
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拍品詳情

非洲、大洋洲及美洲藝術

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Kota Reliquary Figure, Gabon
Kota Reliquary Figure, Gabon
Height: 24 1/2 in (62.2 cm)
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來源

Alain de Monbrison, Paris
Private Collection, California, acquired from the above in 1983

相關資料

Kota reliquary figures have become icons of world art, and are today instantly familiar to Western viewers. The basic elements of this tradition are distinctive and do not exist elsewhere in Africa; carved in wood, the human head is rendered with graphic geometrical shapes in a flattened, mostly two-dimensional form, rising vertically on an integrally carved cylindrical neck above an open lozenge. The front of the sculpture is covered with an arrangement of flattened metal attachments in varying colors. No two figures are entirely identical, but the tradition conforms to certain basic canons, which in the minds and hands of Kota artists, were subject to an astonishing diversity of formal improvisation, reduction, embellishment, and invention.

The present figure is of unusually strong architecture and bold expression: large dome-shaped eyes punctuate the mouthless face, which is rendered in an elegant convex heart-shape circumscribed from brows to chin. A sharp central ridge divides the face vertically, running down the forehead into a blade-shaped nose, the line tapering outward in a triangular section running into the chin. The artist has arranged fields of multiple colors of copper and brass with great success, most strikingly with an orange copper-colored field providing the backdrop for the dramatic circular eyes.

Within the Kota corpus, attempts to attribute to a sub-style, region, or atelier is difficult and can be paradoxical if based upon individual attributes. The present figure relates quite closely in the style of the heart-shaped face to a figure from the collection of the Musée Dapper, as well as to one face of a janus example sold at Sotheby's, Paris, June 21, 2017, lot 74. In contrast to the Dapper example, the present figure and the janus bear the classic transverse crescent coiffure and fanning side-coiffures with cylindrical pendants.

The iconographic designs of Kota figures reference the faces and indeed the skulls of those whose sacra they watched over. The surfaces of copper and brass—as highly valued as gold in nineteenth century Gabon—were kept gleaming by repeated sand polishing, and evoked the sparkling surface of a body of water, beyond or beneath which was the world of the deceased. For their creators, these sculptures embodied a mystical conduit between the living and the dead.

非洲、大洋洲及美洲藝術

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