African Art Newletter: Challenges

Dear $email,

The main questions I receive into my mail box are about the valuation and authentication of African Art objects that people have in there homes. Also many starting collectors ask me how to acquie the expertise. The easiest way is to start a small thematic collection and try to visit as many museum collections as possible to set your standards. It is also importantto try to document your objects, since otherwise important informations can be lost.

I must say most of these objects proposed to me are usually just made for decoration, and it become more and more rare to find objects that where brought back at the turn of the XXth century. Unless you have objects that you know where collected before WWII by your grand father or far family, the chances are big it is not something special. Even around 1970 most of the objects coming out of Africa where made for decoration, and many missions where known to produce “copies” in workshops .

An interesting exhibition is in Liège this summer  with objects collected by a doctor in Congo before 1929: this exhibition is worth visiting if you can make it to Belgium before september 20,2012. These objects where brought back by Charles Firket a doctor that went there in the early XXth century when Leopold II decided to make Congo a Belgian colony.
You can see some objects of this collection in the following 2 pdf documents :

>> télécharger le PDF 1 >> télécharger le PDF2

Collections artistiques de l’ULg (Galerie Wittert)
Place du 20-Août, 7. 4000 Liège

Also in Belgium, there is an interesting exhibition with some objects coming from the Tervueren Musuem on view in the Royal Palace, this exhibition is about technology, but some very nice and old objects are on view there.

Fun  African Art Image to Share:

You are free to copy and share the image  below or repin and comment :

While the Boston Museum has to defends itself not to give back the beautiful Benin bronzes they recently got Holland Cotter travelled in Africa and discovered some archaelogy for sale.

Pinned ImageThe Nok Culture book byGert Chesi, Gerhar… read more on this book at
While it is understandable that African are wanting to get there treasures back as explained on this African website article  about why the Boston Museum should opens dialogue over looted Benin artefacts In the main time it is a shame some Islamist are destroying the African patrimony that has been deemed important by the Unesco. African Art, ancient tombs wrecked by islamists

Four photographs show Islamist militants destroying an ancient shrine in Timbuktu in July 2012 . to read more visit…

A Funny movie about discrimination in South Africa led to some controversy


Don’t miss the Parcours des mondes 2012 september 11 > 16 the most important show of tribal art by quality and diversity of its participants. I noted that only six American galleries are participating this year, 14 Belgian galleries, 33 french, and a few from other european countries. You can see some images on this french blog :

Are you looking for some fine African Art? If so, you might be interested in these items :

A Baule Gbekre coming from Frits Lemaire collection

Big Songye 90 cm

New Price € 4,500. This Songye that served to protect the village, still has the ropes under his arms that helped to show it around.


This is a seldom Ijaw used to dance, with strong graphical elements, remains of offerings, and good signs of aging, XIXth. I love the perfection of the graphical execution, around the neck and in the eyes are some metal parts.

I also have a rare Fang mask on a pool that is around 1m60cm high and coming from an english collector, images are send on request (higher price tag, only ask if fundings in place please). I only found one similar object illustrated in the book Greber made in the 1930′s.


guro_z1.jpg (16792 bytes)

Guro Zamble mask (ex Christie’s)

Hope you enjoyed this edition,  just hit reply if you have some comments .

David Norden

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