african masksKuyu
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A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden

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Kuyu Tribe

Metropolitan acquires important Kuyu standing figure

found at

Kuyu metropolitan

Lot 202 bought by the Metropolitan at the vente Vérité for 350,000 € + costs

This past June 2006 the Metropolitan was successful in acquiring a new work for its permanent collection at the sale of the Pierre and Claude Verité collection that was held in Paris at Hôtel Drouot. [ find a copy of the 55 mb pdf sales catalog (comprimed asan exe file) and results .]

While the much anticipated and promoted sale marked some record prices for works of African art, most notably a celebrated Fang mask, the museum elected to pursue filling an area of its collection that was especially well represented in the Verité collection, that of Kuyu sculpture from the Republic of the Congo. Three of the most important examples of this tradition that is distinctive for its emphasis on polychromy and the juxtaposition of two-dimensional abstract design on full-bodied figurative representations were among the highlights of the sale. These were collected in the field during the 1930s by the colonial governor of French Equatorial Africa, Aristide Courtois. Courtois was a major supplier of sculpture from the region to the most important dealers of African art in Paris during the first half of the 20th century including Charles Ratton.

The Metropolitan acquired the most monumental of these, a standing male figure with three faces, that is especially appealing for its engaging views from multiple perspectives and the bold abstract designs emblazoned across the torso. The work will be placed on view in the Benenson Gallery of African art in the coming month. -- Alisa LaGamma

For more on the life of Aristide Courtois, see Pierre Amrouche, "Aristide Courtois (1883-1962), The Bungalow Burner," Arts & cultures 2006, p. 180-189. (RGL call no. A A7849 2006)

A black-and-white illustration of this piece appears in
Eliot Elisofon and William Fagg, Sculpture of Africa (1958; reprinted 1978), p. 163. (Q O3 E47 and Q O3 E47 1978)

For another example of 'Janus faced' Kuyu sculpture, see For spirits and kings
:African Art from the Paul and Ruth Tishman Collection, edited by Susan Vogel (1981), p. 196-198 (O2 N545f REF)

Some recently sold Kuyu's

This Kuyu statue is lot 223 from the Verité collection sold for one million euros without costs this is 1,472,837 $ costs included. 32.75"inch

Brill's Kuyu at Sotheby's auction "The William W. Brill Collection of African Art" sold November 17, 2006  

Kuyu cermonial headLot 76, magnificent Kuyu cermonial head, 10 1/2 inches high

found at in the article about 

Lot 76 is a "magnificent" Kuyu cermonial head that is 10 1/2 inches high.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"The Kuyu people, neighbors of the Mboshi, live on the east and west sides of the Kuyu River, a tributary of the Likouala River, which flows into the Congo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo....Kuyu works of art of similar refinement are rare. Only a few other sculptures of comparable quality and strong physiognomy are known....The Brill head, however, is unsurpassed in its merger of artistic delicacy and savage expressiveness. The composition of drooping eyes in trance-like expression in contrast to a gaping mouth with sharp, ferocious teeth can be understood as an allusion to the moment of transcendence of spirital power during the important ceremonies. The artist's mastery in depicting this moment beyond time makes the Brill head arguably one ofthe most important Kuyu sculptures known."

It had an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold to an American private collector for $464,000, a record for a work of Kuyu art and the highest price realized at the auction. (related Brill collection )

I also have two Kuyu head 's for sale at this moment, you can read details about them by clicking on the pictures :

A Kuyu coming from the Museum of African art in New York as mentionned during the auction where I bought it.

kuyu headT

he crack has been restored by me and is not visible anymore. 

A Kuyu head with same stylistic elements as the one from the Vérité collection published by JP Bacquart




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Gabon tribes
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The Tribal Arts of Africa

The Tribal Arts of Africa
Author: Jean-Baptiste Bacquart

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