Sotheby’s – African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art

April 22nd, 2011 by

The Robert Rubin Collection of African Art is one of the most important collections of African art to appear on the international market in recent years.  Mr. Rubin (1934-2009) was a lifetime trustee of the Museum for African Art in New York and a major figure in the field.  The relatively small collection of 50 works reflects his extraordinary taste and discernment and his quest for the finest examples from each region and style.

Among the many highlights is a Baule Male Ancestor Figure from Ivory Coast, which is known as the best of its type.  It was created by a master carver whose attention to detail is unsurpassed in African art.  The unusually large (24in) sculpture is of exceptionally high quality.  It boasts impressive provenance and has also been widely published, including in the prestigious L’Art Negre by Pierre Meauze in 1967.  Another major highlight from the sale is a Dogon Nduleri Male Ancestor Figure which is the Name-Piece of the Master of the Slanted Eyes and the companion to a female figure in the collection of the Musee du Louvre in Paris.

Brose catalogue for the Robert Rubin Collection of African Art

The May auction of African, Oceanic, and Pre-Columbian Art at Sotheby’s offers a rich selection of exceptional art from the traditional cultures of sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific Islands and Indonesia, as well as Central and South America.

The sale features a strong selection of African art, including an important Punu Mask from Gabon which was published in Carl Einstein’s influential 1915 book Negerplastik.  A magnificent Yoruba Female Figure of a woman offering a ram leads a group of West African art from the collection of Nancy and Richard Bloch.  A rare and important Luba-Songye Kifwebe Mask is of the type that probably inspired one of Pablo Picasso’s most dynamic periods, 1907-1908, when he painted Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

Browse catalogue for the African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art auction