'Danger-seeking' collector auctions '$84,780' African tribal art figurine


Fascination with tribal art continues in the European collectors markets, with a number of Indonesian primitive artworks appearing for sale at Zemanek-Münster's auction in Würzburg, Bavaria, Germany on September 17.

Meanwhile, Paris's Auctions Rive Gauche is also getting in on the action. Its sale, this Thursday (September 8), will offer primitive art from Africa, Nepal, Oceania and the Americas to present and online bidders.

Measuring 65cm tall, this figure of a female ancestor is from Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa. The figure is carved in an upright attitude with bent legs, powerful and shapely curves, and conical breasts.

The piece is expected to bring between €40,000-60,000 ($84,780) when it auctions later this week.

According to Auctions Rive Gauche's lot notes, this figurine was formerly of the Stéphane Kurc Collection. Kurc's passion for tribal art began during his adolescence and soon grew into a hunt for "authentic" pieces.



A figure of a female ancestor is from Burkina Faso

The collection was amassed from the 1970s onwards and, it is generally held, Kurc's visits to Africa were frequently characterised by parties, excitement and sometimes horrors. As the explorer wrote of his first trip to the continent:

"1974, I am going to join a friend cooperating in Niger ... This is the year of drought ... There are thousands of dead in the bush, refugees flocking to the capital. My friend is a cameraman, I decided to make a film ... After the shoot, I stay in Benin where I buy a few items of Nigeria ... Until an attempted coup broke out in Cotonou which I fled hastily ..."

Kurc's passion for collecting, with encompassed numismatics as well as other artefacts, led him to such places as the Cliff of Bandiagara (or Land of the Dogons), an area of outstanding natural beauty and centre of the Dogon culture, and the dangerous territories of Nigeria.

According to this figurine's lot notes, Stéphane Kurc is selling now his collection to "embark on other passions." His treasures will undoubtedly attract collectors worldwide who share his passion for mysterious, faraway and often dangerous tribal cultures.

Auctions Rive Gauche will undoubtedly be hoping its auction continues the spate of successful sale results in the tribal art markets. Examples include Bonhams & Butterfields' February 2010 sale of African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian which totalled more than $500,000.


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