MATA Tribal Arts Fair Slated For May 14-May 17

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • March 02, 2015

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Stilt-step, 18th century, from the Marchesa Islands, probably for a young child.
Songye power object of wood. Organic substances would have been inserted and attached.

The Madison Ancient and Tribal Arts Fair is slated to run May 14th-17th at the Arader Galleries townhouse at 1016 Madison Avenue. It is a singular opportunity to shop distinguished collections of the antique sculptural and figurative arts of Africa, Oceania and the ancient Americas. 

Wood sculptures and carvings, fiber works, masks, beadwork, and body objects designed for use in daily life, sport and ritual will be on view. The MATA Fair is a vetted show, promising only authentic and museum quality items. 

Among the show’s highlights are power figures that enabled the quest for communication with gods and spirits. For example, a 7-inch tall carved wood and copper figure created by the Songye people of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, would have been inserted and wrapped with symbolic substances in order to bestow fertility and provide protection against disease and misfortune. 

The quest for beauty by men and women of high birth is reflected in a collection of 19th century headrests from the Shangaan of South Africa. Intended to protect the elaborate coiffeurs of its owner as he or she slept, the beautifully crafted wood platforms feature stylized, sweeping horizontal planes atop geometrical supports.  

The universal importance of sports can be seen in an elaborately carved 18th century stilt-step in the form of a seated figure adorned with a tall headdress. As much game as a measure of a man’s spirituality, stilt-walking was a skill to be mastered early, as evidenced by this 8-inch tall step.  

Exhibitors at the Arader Galleries townhouse include Bruce Frank, Patrick Mestdagh, Marc Assayag, Wayne Heathcote, James Stephenson, Michael Rhodes, Kellim Brown, Michael Oliver, Jacaranda Tribal, Nasser and Co., and Splendors of the World-Hawaii. Pace Primitive, Arte Primitivo and Hunt Fine Arts, and also members of the Madison Ancient Tribal Arts alliance, will hold exhibitions in their galleries nearby the Arader townhouse.

Tsonga headrest, 19th century, designed to keep hair in place while sleeping.

Many of the members of MATA are researchers and scholars whose works have contributed to a greater understanding of the role crafts and craftsmen played in remote cultures.

As culturally significant as it is aesthetically commanding, Tribal art has been steadily appreciating in value. Well-known as the primitive form that informed the works of Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, Gauguin, and others, its influence still resonates in the works of contemporary artists. 

Appropriately, Tribal Arts Week is running concurrent with Frieze Week (aka Art Auction Week), the spring round-up of contemporary art fairs that bring thousands of collectors to New York. The MATA Fair will provide historical context.

Admission to the MATA Fair is free. It runs May 14th-17th at the Arader Galleries townhouse, 1016 Madison Avenue, at 78th Street. Show Hours are Thursday, May 14th 11am-8pm, Friday, May 15th, 11am-7pm, Saturday, May 16th, 11am-7pm, Sunday, May 17th, 11am-6pm.  For details please visit  

Gina Kolbe
Antiques Weeks Media, LLC

Madison Ancient Tribal Arts
About Madison Ancient Tribal Arts

Madison Ancient & Tribal Art is an alliance of international dealers specializing in the art of traditional cultures. With an emphasis on figurative and abstract sculptures, the goal of MATA is to offer to new and seasoned collectors of traditional, modern and contemporary art an eclectic range  of antique fine art and artifacts from the rich tribal cultures of Africa, Oceania, Indonesia, Asia and the Ancient Americas.

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