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OCEANIC ART FROM THE ESTATE OF LYNDA CUNNINGHAM

Kanak Figure, New Caledonia
Estimate
20,00030,000
LOT SOLD. 137,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
39

OCEANIC ART FROM THE ESTATE OF LYNDA CUNNINGHAM

Kanak Figure, New Caledonia
Estimate
20,00030,000
LOT SOLD. 137,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

|
New York

Kanak Figure, New Caledonia

Provenance

Lynda Cunningham, New York, acquired before January 1982

Literature

Lynda Cunningham, Oceania / Southeast Asia I, New York, 1982, cover
Oceanic Primitive Arts (adv.), African Arts, February 1982, vol. XV, no. 2, p. 65 

Catalogue Note

The Kanak people are the original inhabitants of the Melanesian archipelago of New Caledonia. According to Roger Boulay, the ethnologist and specialist in the art of New Caledonia, 'though Caledonian social mores and languages […] and its material and artistic culture naturally exhibit many common features with the rest of Melanesia, its position at the far end of the Melanesian arc has seen the island develop a singularly original civilization of its own.' (Boulay in Kaeppler, Kaufmann, & Newton, eds., Oceanic Art, 1999, p. 299).

The present figure, with its feet standing on the remains of a post, fits within the corpus which Roger Boulay has termed ‘sculptures to plant’ (Boulay & Kasarhérou, eds., De jade et de nacre, Paris, 1990, p. 155). Their function is quite poorly documented; Victor de Rochas described them as funerary sculptures which were placed in a spiral arrangement around the deceased’s hut (de Rochas, La Nouvelle Calédonie et ses habitants, Paris, 1862, p.188), and Captain le Bras described a figure which he collected (now in the musée d’Aquitaine, Bordeaux) as having been ‘planted outside the door of a chief’s hut.’ (Boulay and Kasarhérou, ibid., p. 158). Boulay suggests that the sculptures represented notables or chiefs. ‘Neither commemorative nor propitiatory, they seem intended rather to underline, in statuary, the importance of someone who would otherwise be outwardly indistinguishable from his fellows, expect perhaps by a few rules of behavior.' (ibid.).

Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

|
New York