Whether primal, primitive or tribal, the arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas shone out over Paris from 9 to 14 September 2014 in the fine arts district of St Germain-des-Prés.
For its 13th edition, Parcours des Mondes
, the international art fair dedicated to tribal arts, under the honorary presidency of Antoine Frérot, CEO of Veolia Environnement, brought together 68 exhibitors, including nine new art dealers, attracting both committed collectors and well-informed art lovers.
As the American Michael Hamson points out, the exhibitors, coming from all over the world, had taken care to set aside their finest pieces for this key event of the year.
This art fair, the biggest and most awaited in its speciality, found the endorsement of a ardent but demanding public thanks to its rich programme of exhibitions, which were numerous at least thirty seven and invited visitors to discover or rediscover the classics of Sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania as well as less well known arts such as those from India, the Himalayas and South-East Asia.
Another strong point of this Parcours des Mondes was the Café Tribal, open to all, offering a closer view of publishing in the domain of tribal art: particularities, trends, perspectives
An opportunity for richer interaction between visitors to the art fair and actors in the world of tribal art.
Arte y Ritual (Madrid) achieved a resounding success with the exhibition ADAM, Analog- Digital-Ancient-Masters accompanied with a luxurious catalogue. This artistic and aesthetic approach was unanimously hailed for the quality of the pieces presented. Conceived by the gallery as an homage to their clients, this virtual itinerary brought together some thirty years of acquisitions.
At Guilhem Montagut (Barcelona) the exhibition on Mali, The Former French Sudan, also proved a success with some fifteen pieces sold at between 20,000 and 80,000. The flagship piece of this presentation was a Djennenke dogon statue dating from the 15th century and shown for the first time by the gallery (at 150,000).
The expert in aborigine art, Stéphane Jacob (Paris), whose exhibition Aboriginal Painting: Abstraction and Sacredness delighted the public, sold 22 pieces including a most noteworthy painting by Daniel Walbidi at 18,000. In August 2014, the artist had been awarded the top prize in Australian aboriginal art, the TELSTRA (National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award), in the General Painting section.
For his first participation, the young gallery owner Martin Doustar (Paris Brussels) made a striking impression in bringing together some forty ritual skulls from Oceania, Africa, Insulindia and Pre-Columbian America. Seven of these memento mori, with prices starting at 15,000, were purchased and the centrepiece of this exhibition, a Sepik skull rack from Papua-New-Guinea, at a price reaching between one and two million euros (there are only two in the world), aroused great interest on the part of an American museum.
Great success also for Bruce Frank (New York), who as soon as the art fair opened had already sold seven pieces of Oceanic art (amounting to 80% of the pieces presented in this speciality).
The presence of ten of Americas leading art dealers, including Donald Ellis, Bruce Franck, Michael Hamson, Jacaranda and Thomas Murray attracted numerous clients from across the Atlantic. French and Germans also strolled around the galleries and, as Olivier Castellano points out, clients from Asia did not hesitate to acquire pieces from Africa.
Sign of the vitality that currently reigns over the market for tribal arts, the art dealer Donald Ellis (New York), leading specialist in ancient art from North America, ceded major pieces (between 150,000 and 300,000) to new clients and accomplished an important sale (around 200,000) to a British buyer acquiring a work for the first time in this domain.
Another speciality less well known to the general public and one that met with real commercial success was that of the arts of India and the Himalayas, represented by the new participant Frédéric Rond of the Indian Heritage gallery (Paris). The latter sold some Nepalese pieces to buyers who had until then concentrated their acquisitions exclusively on Africa or Oceania.
One point in common among both new buyers and acknowledged collectors: the need to understand and to appropriate for oneself the piece that is bought. As Pierre Moos explains: tribal art remains a domain for enthusiasts, not so much for speculators.
Following on the success of Parcours des Mondes and to meet a request on the part of art dealers and collectors, a Parisian itinerary of Asian arts is to be held in September 2015. According to Pierre Moos, There are bridges between collectors of African and Oceanic arts and those of Asian art, as is clearly demonstrated by the tastes of several of my collector friends.