The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Dogon masterpiece to be offered at Christie's Paris
The Rasmussen-de Havenon Dogon mask, Mali, 17th-18th century. Estimate: €2,500,000-3,500,000. © Christie’s Images Limited 2017.

PARIS.- Christie’s France will offer at auction on 4th April, the Rasmussen-de Havenon Dogon mask which stayed in private hands for more than twenty years. This exceptional mask was discovered in the 1950s through a network of African merchants, including Mamadou Sylla in Bamako, one of the most important amongst them. In the mid-1950s, Sylla sold it to one of the most significant merchant of the Parisian marketplace: René Rasmussen. His friend Gaston de Havenon became as passionate of African Art thanks to his several business trips to Paris, which enabled him to discover the famous Parisian art galleries including those of René Rasmussen and Robert Duperrier. It was only a few years later, in the early 1960s, that Gaston de Havenon managed to acquire the famous mask that he will keep in his collection throughout his life. One year after his death, in 1994, his fabulous collection was sold at Drouot. At that time, the Dogon mask appeared on both sides of the sale catalogue celebrating this masterpiece beautifully. It was acquired by a private American collector and stayed in the same family until this day.

Susan Kloman, International Director of the department: “This is an incredibly exciting moment for the art market and Paris to witness the return of this iconic masterpiece. This archaic mask in a unique style by a master sculptor of the 18th century Dogon, who could rival his Western contemporaries Bernini or later Rodin in originality and quiet power. It is an indelible work appearing in all of the major references on African art. Our offering this April represents only the second time in a century the work has been available at auction”.

The Primordial Couple
The Rasmussen – de Havenon mask has always impressed by its exceptional iconography: unlike the satimbe masks whose female figure on top is generally standing the woman in the present case is laying on her knees while striding a male face. The subject of the kneeling woman is very common in Dogon art and has its origin in a ritual posture that has been photographed and documented by Griaule during funerals where the widow and the sisters of the deceased would kneel down in front of his house (M. Griaule, Masques Dogon, 1938, p. 291, ill. 50). “It is a sacred gesture to be found throughout Kagoro art and in terracotta statuary from the inland Niger delta” (de Grunne, 1994; for a detailed discussion B. de Grunne, Ancient Sculpture of the Inland Niger Delta and Its Influence on Dogon Art, African Arts, vol. 21, 4, 1988). In reference to the motif of Yasigine, the primordial woman, it is clear that the duality femalemale of the present mask can be interpreted as the primordial couple, a concept so central in Dogon cosmogony: “The celestial powers themselves were two, and in their earthly manifestations they would act as a couple: the Lébé and the Seventh Nommo formed a living couple; the ancestors of the great mask and the seat-of-the-mask were an ancestral couple.”(Griaule, 1948, p. 188).

As de Grunne remarks though, “this object remains unique in its style in the known corpus of Dogon masks” (de Grunne, idem). This uniqueness is due mainly to the great age of this mask – this mask is considered the “last object witnessing a type of mask for which today no other illustration survives.”

In Dogon art sacred objects, to which the permanent masks of the Dama and Sigi belong, were hidden in the caves of the cliff to be protected against the intrusion of the non-initiated. They were preserved in sacred spaces where sacrifices and libations were regularly poured upon them. The black and thick patina of this mask indicates a long ritual use for several generations.

Gaston de Havenon (1904 - 1993)
Born in Tunisia he emigrated to the United States at the age of twenty. He was an important businessman and founder of a major cosmetics and perfumes company. As a friend of many artists of the prewar period such as Soutine, Gorky or Noguchi he became passionate about their art and collected their works. Later on, as the eclectic and enthusiastic collector of unquenched curiosity he was, and thanks to his friend Eliot Elisofon, he fell passionately in love with African art. During his business trips to Paris he discovered the galleries of René Rasmussen and Robert Duperrier in Saint-Germain-des-Près.

Both gentleman-dealers quickly became friends and both proved indispensable in allowing him to build a fantastic collection. His collection was sold one year after his death. On that occasion, now remembered as a mythical event of the time, the Dogon mask, prominent on both the front and back of the sale catalogue, was celebrated as its absolute highlight and star.

Today's News

March 6, 2017

Asia Week New York announces largest number of exhibitions in the event's history

Rarely seen Renaissance paintings by Venice masters on view at the North Carolina Museum of Art

Theaster Gates presents new body of work in solo exhibition at National Gallery of Art

Piguet Auction House to offer The Givaudan collection: The epitome of French 18th century taste

Israeli experts find 'mystery' Bronze Age dolmen

'What I Loved: Selected Works from the '90s' opens at Regen Projects

Sotheby's to sell Gerald Scarfe collection of political cartoons

"Adios Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950" opens in Houston

Heni Gallery in Soho exhibits a series of 40 graphite-on-paper drawings by Gerhard Richter

Exhibition presents rare coloured sculptures that represent radical moments in Tony Cragg's practice

A Dogon masterpiece to be offered at Christie's Paris

Almine Rech Gallery in Paris opens exhibition of works by Bertrand Lavier

Yorkshire Sculpture Park presents a collection of portrait photographs of sculptors by Anne Purkiss

The Delaware Art Museum exhibits works by British illustrator W. Heath Robinson

Exhibition celebrates the great graphic boom of American prints from 1960 to 1990

New exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art: Buttons and other ornaments

Magazzino Italian Art announces official opening and inaugural presentation in June 2017

Galleria Francesca Antonacci Damiano Lapiccirella Fine Art announces TEFAF highlights

Artworks examine a dramatic shift in how women artists in the 1990s redefined the 'self' in their art practices

Benrubi Gallery opens second solo exhibition of work by Eric Cahan

New series of oil on canvas works by Los Angeles based artist Christian Vincent on view at C24 Gallery

The Hague Museum of Photography opens Mariken Wessels' first ever Dutch museum solo show

Heritage's February Fine & Decorative Art Auction reaches almost $2 million

Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens announces new Program Manager

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Holocaust 'masterpiece' causes uproar at Venice film festival

2.- To be unveiled at Sotheby's: One of the greatest collections of Orientalist paintings ever assembled

3.- Bender Gallery features paintings by up and coming Chicago artist Michael Hedges

4.- Lévy Gorvy exhibits new and historic works by French master in his centenary year

5.- Artificial Intelligence as good as Mahler? Austrian orchestra performs symphony with twist

6.- Fascinating new exhibition explores enduring artistic bond between Scotland and Italy

7.- Exhibition explores the process of Japanese-style woodblock production

8.- Robert Frank, photographer of America's underbelly, dead at 94

9.- The truth behind the legend of patriot Paul Revere revealed in a new exhibition at New-York Historical Society

10.- Hitler bust found in cellar of French Senate

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
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
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