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

May 10th, 2011 by

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 inspiration modern European artists drew from these traditional cultures in the first decades of the 20th century is particularly evident in a selection of sculpture from the collection of renowned Modern art dealer Pierre Matisse (lots 167-202). The son of the painter Henri Matisse opened his gallery in New York in 1931 and launched some of the earliest exhibitions of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas in the United States. Represented in the group are a beautiful Fang Reliquary Figure, a striking Kanak Roof Spire, and a sublime Teotihuacan Greenstone Mask.

Pre-Columbian art is well represented from various private collections including an important group of Andean textiles and ceramics from the collection of Roland Hartmann, Switzerland; fine Maya ceramics, Central American gold and an Olmec jade spoon pendant of extraordinary emerald green color from a North American private collection. A large Chinesco Seated Male Figure, Type A, is among the evocative West Mexican ceramic figures from various American collections.