Masterworks of Africa, Oceania and the Americas

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Masterworks of Africa, Oceania and the Americas

  • Totem Pole, Southeast Alaska. Estimate $250,000–350,000.
    No one knows when or where the first monumental sculpture that would be called a totem pole was created, but the idea eventually expanded into the broad range of styles represented in totem-carving cultures from Vancouver Island to Southeast Alaska. Native carvers in the second half of the 19th century began to make models of standing poles or new combinations of images as items for sale to outside buyers. A new direction taken by some artists was to carve more deeply into the cylinder, or to pierce clear through to the background, adding lightness and ultimate depth to the sculpture of individual figures. This large sculpture is carved in the style of other poles known to be from Haines, and it may be the tallest of historical model totems that are pierced-through in this way.

  • Dogon-Tintam Statue, Mali. Estimate $250,000–350,000.
    The sculpture of the Dogon people of Mali is one of the most iconic traditions in African art history. The Dogon kept their sacred sculptures in caves in the cliff face, thereby preserving them for hundreds of years. In the absence of written history, little is known about the precise meaning of Djennenke and early Dogon iconography. The Tintam school of sculpture is distinguished for the originality of its style and iconography, which mixing the influences of the communities that have settled there.

  • Baule Male Figure, Côte d'Ivoire. Estimate $200,000–300,000.
    The present statue is a dynamic masterwork by an accomplished sculptor, and an unusually large and fine example of the sacred art of one of Africa’s key classical cultures. the Baule of present-day Côte d’Ivoire. The figure is especially significant amongst the corpus of large-scale Baule statues – scholars have defined the corpus of this sculptor and given the conventional name “the Vérité Master.” Following its creation and a long period of traditional use in situ, the present sculpture had a second life in Europe; in the collection of the Fauvist painter Maurice de Vlaminck, one of the earliest and most influential proponents of the appreciation of African art, it witnessed the awakening of the outside world to the sculptural arts of Africa, and the infusion of African artistic concepts into European modern art.

  • Maori Figure, probably from a Palisade Post, North Island, New Zealand. Estimate $200,000–300,000.
    This enormously commanding Maori sculpture was probably once part of the main palisade post (pou whakarae) of a Maori pā, or defensive settlement or hill fort. These settlements are primarily found in the North Island of New Zealand, and the carving style of this sculpture is consistent with such an attribution. Here the colossal head thrusts forward, its expression intense, the tongue stuck out in a gesture of ritualized challenge. The sculpture was acquired at the Wolff-Knize sale by Pierre Matisse, the art dealer who was well-known for his appreciation of African and Oceanic art, which he exhibited in his gallery alongside masterpieces of Modern art.

  • Kota Reliquary Figure, Gabon. Estimate $200,000–300,000.
    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. 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.

  • Pole Club, Rarotonga or Atiu, Cook Islands. Estimate $200,000–300,000.
    Amongst the pantheon of Polynesian weapons the pole clubs or ‘akatara of Rarotonga or Atiu in the Cook Islands stand at the summit. These superbly elegant and refined weapons were objects of great prestige, imbued with the spiritual power, or mana, of their warrior owners. The present ‘akatara is a particularly exceptional example of its type, notable for the balance of its composition, the presence of several small ‘god’ figures around the collar, and the extraordinarily fine quality of the carving, notable both in the crisply carved blade and in the exceptional flanged butt.

  • Veracruz Standing Priestess, Nopiloa, Late Classic, circa 550–950 AD. Estimate $150,000–200,000.
    This figure of a priestess is perhaps the finest example of the Nopiloa figural tradition. She exudes youthful and confident beauty, and wears elaborate and refined clothing of her status. The Nopiloa region in south/central region of Veracruz  was originally the center of the great Olmec culture of the Preclassic era, and continued to be a highly populated and important region into the Late Classic period. Nopiloa was a center of intensive ceramic production, and became best known for the prized egg-shell thin moldmade figures made from extremely fine grained buff clay and covered in the creamy white slip.

  • Teotihuacan Stone Standing Figure, Guerrero Region, Late Preclassic/Early Classic, circa 200–400 AD. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    The stoic and confident figure embodies the transition from the abstract style of the stone figures from the Guerrero region, as adopted and evolved to the rigorous and symmetrical form of the early Teotihuacan sculpture. The figure has strong vertical and horizontal planes, with narrow openings at the arms reminiscent of specific Mezcala figures from Guerrero, and is made from a large piece lustrous dark green veined serpentine, one of valued greenstones of the era. The figure was part of the collection of William Spratling, an avid early collector of Pre-Columbian art, who documented various styles of stone figures and objects in the important 1964 publication, Escultura Precolombina de Guerrero.

  • Yimam Hook Figure, Karawari River, Papua New Guinea. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    Several archaic cultures of the Middle and Upper Sepik River Region of New Guinea share a common tradition of carving sacred figures which incorporate a series of opposed hooks, including the garra figures of the Bahinemo peoples, aripa figures of the Inyai-Ewa peoples and the yipwon figures of the Yimam peoples. The yipwon figures occur in two distinct sizes: large-scale images were owned by clans or subclans and kept in the men's ceremonial house, where the figures served as vessels into which the spirits were summoned before a hunt or raid. Each yipwon bore an individual name and often had a close relationship with one of the senior men from the associated clan.

  • Lega Mask, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
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