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Major Pieces from the Hotz Collection of African Art to Be Sold at Christie's in Paris
A Kota reliquary guardian figure. Gabon. Estimate: €600.000-1.000.000. © Christie’s Images Limited 2011.

PARIS.- Christie's African Art department announced the sale of major pieces from the Dennis Hotz Collection. The 25 works of art are expected to fetch together between € 1.5 and 2.2 million euros. Amongst the highlights, the collection includes the iconic Ratton Kota-Ndassa figure, a Dan mask formerly in the collection of Hubert Goldet, a Songye Kifwebe mask, a Dogon female figure, of the Tomo-ka style, formerly in the Solvit Collection (published Leloup, Dogon [1994]).

Over the past 30 years Dennis Hotz has formed an outstanding collection of Tribal art, distinguished by a sophisticated sensibility and built with a passion for the vitality of great sculpture.

The collection is displayed in a deliberate discourse alongside a collection of 20th-century Modern and Contemporary art from Picasso, Dubuffet, Soulages, César and Arman.

The genesis of the Tribal art collection was in 1983 when Hotz attended the Sadruddin Aga Khan’s sale of Tribal art in London. He was profoundly struck by the sale’s display of the diversity and artistic range of African art and he was moved to develop his own private collection of important Tribal works of art.

Several works of art from Hotz’s collection of African art originated in early collections that were highly influential in the development of 20th-century art. The keystone work of the collection, a masterpiece by a Kota artist of the 19th century, has an illustrious history, having been associated with some of the most famous collections of African art. The figure was part of Charles Ratton’s collection, perhaps as early as the 1940s. After Paul Guillaume in the 1930s, Charles Ratton was the most famous and influential Parisian dealers in African art over the course of some fifty years. A true tastemaker, he also developed exhibitions on Surrealist art in the 1930s, for example; the artists of this movement being his friends and clientele. The Kota was featured in Alain Resnais’s ground-breaking film Les statues meurent aussi (1951–53). Finally, it was part of Hubert Goldet’s important collection which was sold in Paris in 2001. Goldet, one of the greatest Parisian collectors of African art, acquired the work from Ratton.

At the same time, Hotz acquired a Dan mask, also from the Goldet Collection, that is hauntingly beautiful through its plaintive expression and encrusted surface. This is a ‘tough’ and visually challenging piece: it is a characteristic of Hotz’s later selections in both paintings and Tribal art that he eschews what is too easy on the eye. The Goldet Dan Mask (estimate: €150,000-200,000) relates closely to an ancient mask collected on La mission Labouret of 1936, now the in the collection of the Musée du Quai Branly.

A Songye Kifwebe mask –one of the most classic and recognizable masks in the African art canon – demonstrates Hotz’s sophisticated taste. The mask is an exceptional example of its type and one of a very small corpus of masks by a master Songye artist. The mask is estimated at 200,000-300,000 euros.

Amongst the top lots is a Dogon figure (estimate 120,000 and 180,000 euros - coming from former Solvit collection, Paris. It reveals a very modern vocabulary combining sensual forms in counterpoint to an architectural angularity.

Auction: 14 June 2011
Exhibition: 10, 11 and 13 June 2011

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