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Dallas Museum of Art acquires two masterworks of African art at Sotheby's auction
Songye "Four Horn" Community Power Figure. Height: 21 7/8 in (55.7 cm). Estimate: $600,000 — 900,000. Sold for: 2,165,000 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.

DALLAS, TX.- The Dallas Museum of Art has acquired two outstanding works of African art at today’s Sotheby’s, New York auction of the Collection of Allan Stone: African, Oceanic, and Indonesian Art. The collection is one of the finest private collections in the world of arts from primary cultures, and is best known for its strong holdings of power figures from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

These important new acquisitions include the greatly admired and sought after Songye “Four Horn” Community Power Figure and a rare quality Ejagham headcrest. Both works strengthen the Museum’s collection of African art, a collection of nearly 2,000 works that is acclaimed as one of the top five of its kind in the United States.

“The ‘Four Horn’ Power Figure and Headcrest are both remarkable examples of African art that will expand our audiences’ understanding of the innovative art and material culture of the diverse peoples of Africa,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director. “We are delighted to expand the Museum’s scholarship in this collecting area, and to share these iconic works of art with our community alongside other masterworks in our collection.”

Additional details on the works include:

“Four Horn” Community Power Figure (nkishi), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Songye peoples. Made with three Common Waterbuck Antelope (Kobus ellipsiprumnus) horns and one Domestic Goat (Capra hircus) horn attached to the head, a beaded collar of Common Waterbuck Antelope (Kobus ellipsiprumnus) hide around the neck, and an African Civet (Civettictis civetta) hide draped from the waist.

This exceptional Songye power figure has an intensely striking physical presence due to the dynamic contrast between the four prominent horns that radiate from the head and the serene quality of the face provided by the rare use of closed eyes. The metal additions to the face augment the value and texture to the figure. The size of the figure (21 inches) suggests its use either personally for a community leader or by a larger community. Widely published and exhibited, the “Four-Horn” statue from the Allan Stone Collection is “an icon of African art,” according to Sotheby’s in its description of the work, adding that “through this juxtaposition of opposing qualities, the unknown artist created one of the most arresting works of all figurative sculpture - a universal masterpiece.”

Headcrest, Cross River Region, Nigeria; Ejagham peoples. The headcrest or headdress mask of wood armature covered in Red Duiker (Cephalophus natalensis) is the first work by the Ejagham peoples to enter the DMA collection, and enriches the already substantial and prestigious collection of arts from Nigeria. It is a remarkable example of its type, which are relatively rare in museum collections. The four spiraling extensions from the central female head create a dynamic three-dimensionality to the mask.

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