Lot 36
  • 36

PASCALE MARTHINE TAYOU | Poupées Pascale, Les Sauveteurs

250,000 - 350,000 GBP
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  • Poupées Pascale, Les Sauveteurs
  • crystal and mixed media
  • from left: i. 125 by 50 by 55 cm. 49 1/4 by 19 3/4 by 21 5/8 in. ii. 150 by 75 by 52 cm. 59 by 29 1/2 by 20 1/2 in. iii. 110 by 63 by 68 cm. 43 1/4 by 24 3/4 by 26 3/4 in. iv. 115 by 60 by 56 cm. 45 1/4 by 23 5/8 by 22 in. v. 125 by 77 by 58 cm. 49 1/4 by 30 1/4 by 22 7/8 in. vi. 205 by 130 by 62 cm. 80 3/4 by 51 1/8 by 24 3/8 in.
  • Executed in 2007.


Galleria Continua, San Gimignano
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007 


Blandy, Château de Blandy les Tours, Matiti Elobi, August - September 2008


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although they are more vibrant in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Close inspection reveals some surface irregularities in places, including a few minor unobtrusive scuffs, handling marks, short scratches, spots of residue and media accretion to the figures. There is a superficial and light layer of surface dust, particularly in the recesses of each figure. The following descriptions correspond to the order of the figures in the catalogue illustration. A small element appears to be missing from the crystal jaw of the first figure. Close inspection of the third figure reveals two minor chips to the legs at the knee joints, which are joined together using silicone; these minor chips and roughly secured joints appear in-keeping with the artist's choice of materials and working processes. Extremely close inspection of the fourth figure reveals a fine and stable hairline crack to the underside surface of the leftmost element of the figure's crown, which is adhered to the head. Further close inspection reveals a short and stable diagonal fissure to the lower part of the leftmost protruding element above the legs. Close inspection of the sixth figure reveals a diagonal crack across the big toe of the left foot, which appears to have been previously repaired.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

“Duality is very important for me. It’s like looking at a beautiful painting, you need some kind of harmony: harmony comes from shadow and light. There’s a sense of that [in my work]: it’s sweet and bitter, sharp and soft. There is no paradise without hell; no hell without paradise” Pascale Marthine Tayou filmed in conversation, ‘Pascale Marthine Tayou: BOOMERANG’, Serpentine Galleries, 6 October 2015, online. 

Executed in 2007, Pascale Marthine Tayou’s Poupées Pascale, Les Sauveteurs is part of the Cameroonian artist’s ongoing series of hand-blown crystal figures. Adorned in an assortment of found, stitched and crafted materials, the six, almost life-sized sculptures that make up the present work are imbued with a sense of mysticism and intrigue typical of the artist’s internationally acclaimed practice. Born in Yaoundè, Cameroon, in 1966, Tayou lives and works between Ghent, Belgium, and Douala, Cameroon. A self-described nomad, his multi-media practice explores themes of diaspora and displacement, whilst grappling with issues of wealth, power, race and the impact of colonialism on the contemporary moment. Fascinated by how human beings formulate identity through religion, culture and tradition, Tayou addresses and challenges the generative and performative nature of society and civilisation in his work. Through his diverse and eclectic aesthetic, the artist seeks to move beyond the confines of communities and borders, and instead towards what he has described as “something universal, something human” (Pascale Marthine Tayou filmed in conversation, ‘Pascale Marthine Tayou: BOOMERANG’, Serpentine Galleries, 6 October 2015, online).

Translating to Pascale’s DollsThe Rescuers, the Poupées Pascale, Les Sauveteurs are highly charged with symbolic significance. Tayou’s practice is concerned with questions of social conformity, and he frequently uses masks and dolls in his work as emblems of the performative roles we are expected to play and adhere to in everyday life. Robed in elaborate garments, the present sculptures become poignant caricatures of humankind who wear their identities like costumes. Cloaked, masked and burdened by their material and symbolic possessions, the figures offer a compelling social commentary on contemporary existence in our globalised and postcolonial world. The term Les Sauveteurs, or The Rescuers, refers to the itinerant street hawkers ubiquitous to African towns and cities. The name has multiple connotations that blend practical, spiritual and emotional forms of ‘salvage’, and indeed Cameroonian street hawkers are said to ‘save’ people by providing on-the-spot services and to ‘salvage’ goods by recycling and upholstering them. With their glassy, transparent skin, Tayou’s sculptures pertinently surpass notions of race and nationality to present a homogenised and universal ideal. Freed from temporal and topographical specificity, his figures “not only mediate in this sense between cultures, or set man and nature in ambivalent relations to each other, but are produced in the knowledge that they are social, cultural, or political constructions” (Anon., ‘Pascale Marthine Tayou’, Richard Taittinger Gallery, 2019, online).

After initially training as a lawyer, Tayou began his career as an artist in the 1990s. He has since garnered broad international recognition, exhibiting at Documenta II in Kassel in 2002, and at the Venice Biennale in 2005 and 2009. With thought-provoking and interrogative works such as Poupées Pascale, Les Sauveteurs, he has secured his position as one of today’s leading contemporary artists.