Dan Ripley’s Antique Helper will present an important auction of African, Pre-Columbian, Oceanic and Native American art and artifacts on Saturday, October 23rd.. Gathered from several distinguished collections, including an important New York collection, many selections from this auction are the subject of scholarly works. Many have been exhibited, many are listed in the Yale archive of traditional African art.
Recognizing the importance of this sale, Antique Helper has enlisted the services of Scott Rodolitz, A 25-year veteran in the fields of African and Oceanic art. Rodolitz has managed galleries and worked as curator for a number of public and private collections. He worked at the Russian Academy of Scientists and is one of only a handful of Americans to become a member of the St. Petersburg Union of Scientists. Mr. Rodolitz has worked as World Wide Director of African and Oceanic Art at Bonham’s New York. Among his writing credits, Rodolitz co-authored Remnants of Ritual: Selections from The Gelbard Collection of African Art, along with Ethnographic expert Arthur P. Bourgeois. A number of the fine African pieces in this auction were featured in this book, including the fantastic copper covered Lwalwa mask.
According to Rodolitz, the October 23 auction offers a rare chance for enthusiasts at all levels to augment their collections. This presents a unique buying opportunity for beginning collectors. They will be able to bid on items in comfort, knowing that the objects of interest were truly created for traditional purposes, and are not merely copies crafted for the tourist trade.
“There’s something for everyone in this sale, at every price point,” says Rodolitz. “A particular focus was to make sure that all levels of collecting will be represented in this sale. Anyone can come and find objects that are traditional and within their price range.” Prices will range from the low hundreds to thousands.
While the sale will offer a wide survey of cultures from Sub-Saharan Africa, from Mali to South Africa, there will be a strong emphasis on material from Central Africa. This region, according to Rodolitz, offers the greatest cultural and is most popular among collectors of Ethnographic art. “You are not really talking about a single art form or a few art forms,” he says. “… You are dealing with hundreds of different peoples who all have different styles of art work…. There’s an endless range of styles.”
Reasonably estimated items such as Dogon and Kuba masks, as well as a large number of Zairian sculptures, all from provenanced collections, will be quite the attraction for new collectors. Additionally, there are shields from New Guinea and other objects collected from the vast area from Indonesia to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. A number of pieces were collected during the early Harvard medical expeditions of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Other items of note from the Oceanic region include a representational canoe house support from the Solomon Islands, a large ceremonial ancestral facemask from New Guinea and a Wood Lark Island canoe prow. Among the Tribal Art offerings will be weapons, objects of material culture, ritual masks, and carvings.
Of special note is an important Yoruba offering bowl, almost certainly carved by an artist named Agabonbiafe. This bowl boasts an exceptional provenance, having been exhibited in a number of museums. According to Rodolitz, “This bowl is one of the few examples where we know who the carver was. Agabonbiafe was a known and famous carver among the Yoruba, and his work is in museums and other important collections world-wide..” Another item of special interest is a Lega mask from the Gelbard Collection. A wonderful, small Fang figure that sold in a French gallery circa WW II still boasts the original labels on the base. A fine Baule mask, an exceptional Dan spoon and a Kota reliquary guardian figure, sold at Sotheby’s. Not to be missed is an extremely important Bakongo helmet mask, which appeared in Raoul Lehuard’s 1989 volume, “Art Bakango: Les Centres De Style, Vol. III, Les Masques”--the definitive study on Bakango masks. A handful of Zairian objects, formerly in the collection of a United States diplomat, and a Dan mask given by a missionary in the early 20th Century reflect the diversity of the backgrounds of early collectors.
Native American and Pre-Columbian art and artifacts include pottery, beadwork and baskets, as well as Peruvian textiles. A totem pole, ca. early 20th Century from the Pacific Northwest would be an impressive addition to any collection.
The auction will take place at 10 AM, Eastern Standard Time, on October, 23. There will be a preview and reception on Friday, October 22, from 4-8 PM.
For more information, or for estimates for individual items, please view the auction catalog, which will be available at www.antiquehelper.com, or call (317) 251-5635.