The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, April 25, 2018

African Forms - The Marc and Denyse Ginzberg Collection
A superb Mangbetu drum, Democratic République of Congo. estimate : € 40.000/60.000. © Sotheby's Images.

PARIS, FRANCE.- Sotheby’s is honoured to announce the sale of the Marc and Denyse Ginzberg Collection – the most important private collection of non-figurative African art. Created over the last fifteen years, the collection follows more than thirty years of collecting in the field of African art by the Ginzbergs. This American collection encompasses objects from across the continent of Africa, and the Ginzbergs have focused specifically on objects of great quality and beauty. In this unique collection, the Ginzberg’s have chosen objects which encompass many materials, colors and superb forms realized in traditional African art.

In the history of collections, non-figurative African art entered collections in the period of the great discoveries of African art. Some objects entered the princely collections of Europe as well as those of natural history museums and artists in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In fact the first objects which came to Europe from Africa were objects of use or weapons rather than masks or ritual statues. Later, at the end of the nineteenth century, one need only look at the catalogs published by the famous English dealer, W.O. Oldman, to see the multitude of non-figurative and utilitarian objects he had for sale.

Marc Ginzberg explained in his book African Forms, published in 2000, ‘In the vast array of useful objects that have emerged from Africa, we have a resource of designs and patterns that can be applied in our own cultures. We also have a textbook on the integration of material life into the spiritual life, and we have a panoply of beauty that surprises the eye. The images before us are startling and beautiful, but most satisfying works or art, whether music, poetry, painting or sculpture, show originality emerging from a canon or tradition, and we need to know the sources of these forms to deepen our appreciation.’ Both the creation of this collection, and now the dispersal of the collection are landmark events in the history of art from Africa.

As Marc Ginzberg explains, the collection was chosen to show a wide variety of abstract art. The Ginzberg’s structured the collection around functional categories in order to highlight the treasures of non-figurative African art.

In Africa the human body constituted a place of privilege of artistic expression. At each stage of life, according to precise codes of conduct, men and women painted their faces, added ornaments to their bodies, or scarified them. The aesthetic of these decorations was always prescribed, and jewels or elaborate coiffures were signs of identity, individual and social. The Marc and Denyse Ginzberg Collection reflects the richness of forms found in these jewels, including a wide range of forms—bracelets, necklaces, anklets, earrings, pendants and the like, estimates from €1,5001. The collection also includes jewels worn on the head such as those for initiates, for married women, combs as well as labrets (estimate: €600/800). These jewels from across the continent were made from a great variety of materials, each invoking a specific meaning from the most rare (shells, feathers or horns) to the most precious (gold, ivory, imported beads, bronze or iron) or the most fragile or ephemeral (hair, copper, bone vegetable fibers, grains, pigments). The textiles were also jewels. Conceived as tableaux with a complex graphic design they often had many functions: clothing indicating status or prestige (the Yoruba beaded tunic, for example, estimate: €10,000/15,000) or the Guro woman’s loincloth, estimate: €10,000/12,000), ceremonial clothing (the Dida tie-dye raphia, estimate: €2,000/3,000, or carpets for stools (the famous Kuba raffia estimated from €1,000 to €1,500).

Considered by many as sculptures, African musical instruments, ‘sounding forms’, are well represented it the Marc and Denyse Ginzberg Collection. The chordophones, illustrated by a Ouganda harp with eastern influence (estimate: €1,000/1,500), the membranophones (instruments producing a sound from the vibration of a membrane) the drums in the form of an hourglass; the idiophones such as the superb Mangbetu drum of the purest form (estimate: €40,000/60,000 – ). Finally the category of airophones is represented by a selection of the most beautiful small whistles in ivory (Pende) used for hunting, and superb ivory oliphants (Mangbetu), carved from the finial end of an elephant.

Amongst utilitarian objects from Africa, receptacles occupy an unusual place for it was often the natural material which determined the form and function of the container. A round calabash was used as a cup amongst the Mangbetu (estimate: €1,000/1,500) while an elongated calabash made a water pipe in Cameroon (estimate: €1,000/1,500). Receptacles in wood and in terracotta, horn or leather were chosen by Marc and Denyse Ginzberg for their great quality, constituting objects of great refinement. Amongst the Kuba for example, treasure boxes and palm wine cups were delicately carved with geometric motifs estimates from €2,000. Their magnificent patinas show a mixture of oil and pigment. The use of tobacco, introduced to Africa in the 16th century, gave birth in South African small finely carved tobacco containers in bone, estimates from €1,000 to 6,000, wood and ivory amongst the Zulu in particular (estimate: €25,000/35,000).

By their formal quality, stools, perhaps the most functional of all the objects in the Ginzberg Collection, were always considered works of art. The form of an African seat if often a circular stool with one or more legs. The shape varies considerably depending on the cultural use and significance. For example, amongst the Kuba, backrests served as a stool and are the personal property of high ranking people. Amongst the Lobi, the form of a particular tripod stool for men implies a ritual usage by the fact that one could not cross one’s legs. In Cameroon amongst the Bamum or Bamileke one encounters the greatest variety of furniture—stools, thrones and beds. The Marc and Denyse Ginzberg Collection includes a large selection of neckrests which have caught the eyes of many western collectors by the elegance of their forms. Used as rigid pillows to maintain the elaborate coiffures of men and women, these ‘support of dreams’ are unrivalled for the creativity they express—in the form of a stylized quadruped amongst the Zulu (estimate: €6,000/9,000) , or a root in East Africa, or event a delicate geometric form amongst the Shona from Zimbabwe (estimate from €4,000).

In 1991, an exhibition at the Dapper Museum in Paris, Spoons-Sculptures, gave a mark of recognition to these daily objects which are spoons. ‘The sculptor operates a sort of compromise between the liberty of creation and the souvenir of the traditional forms and images. That is to say that the plastic language does not differ from that which we find in figurative sculpture’ (Dapper 1991:26). The same form of a spoon can easily be a variation of a human figure such as in the Ivory Coast when an abstract form amongst the Kulango is a spoon, estimate: €2,000/3,000). In South Africa, there are two types of spoons, large and elegant wood spoons and small, personal spoons in ivory or bone, estimates from €2,000. In Central Africa, the refinement of small objects is best seen in the elegance of ivory spoons amongst the Boa and Lega. Amongst the Lega these spoons also have an important symbolic meaning (estimate: €15,000/20,000).

The weapons in the Ginzberg Collection truely transcend our idea of functional objects as so much care and attention has been taken in their design. The collection includes both defensive weapons such as shields, and offensive weapons like swords and throwing knives. As Ginzberg himself noted in 2000, ‘One can v

Today's News

August 2, 2007

Major Warhol Show Marks 20th Anniversary in Edinburgh

Jun Kaneko at The Knoxville Museum of Art

Form and Imagination: Women Ceramic Sculptors

Topping Out Expected in 2008 for the VMFA Expansion

Henrik Hakansson at Kettle's Yard

Howard Hodgkin: Prints at Victoria Art Gallery

African Forms - The Marc and Denyse Ginzberg Collection

Dayton Art Institute Resumes Director Search

Ward Davenny: Big Weather - New Photographs and Drawings

Helen Park Bigelow Recounts Tales of Richard Diebenkorn

Cleveland Museum of Art's Annual Chalk Festival Returns

Singapore Art Show 2007: New Ways of Experiencing Art

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Boy and an amateur archaeologist unearth legendary Danish king's trove in Germany

2.- Exhibition at The Met illustrates what visitors encountered at The palace of Versailles

3.- Philadelphia Museum of Art opens "Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950"

4.- Exhibition at Michael Hoppen Gallery presents a cross-section of works from Thomas Mailaender's career

5.- New York's Chelsea Hotel celebrity door auction raises $400,000

6.- Stevie Ray Vaughan's first guitar drives Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Auction to nearly $2.9 million

7.- Lichtenstein's Nude with Blue Hair tops $2.4 million sale of Modern & Contemporary Prints & Multiples

8.- $6.7 million Fancy Intense Blue Diamond sets auction record at Sotheby's New York

9.- Mexico court blocks sales of controversial Frida Kahlo Barbie doll

10.- Dutch museums to conduct new research on the paintings of Pieter de Hooch

Related Stories

Important Judaica and Israeli & international art bring a combined $7.9 million at Sotheby's New York

Tunisia to auction ousted despot's treasures

Andy Warhol's Mao portraits excluded from the Beijing and Shanghai shows next year

China criticises French Qing dynasty seal auction

Christie's announces auction marking the first half century of the popular and luxurious interiors shop Guinevere

Nine new exhibits debut at San Diego International Airport

Rembrandt masterpiece "Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet" back on display at National Museum Cardiff

Amber: 40-million-year-old fossilised tree resin is Baltic gold

Egyptian artist Iman Issa wins the Ist FHN Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona Award

The main chapel of the Basilica of Santa Croce open for visits after five year restoration

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful