“fair”

The Dealers speak out

They’re the ones who murmur into the ears of collectors. Gallerists play a crucial role in the tribal-art economy. For this special issue, a number of them, each with their own specialities, have agreed to share their feelings on the sector. Confidences. At auctions, the eclectic nature of the tribal-art market indicates sure growth in the long term, both in terms of the number of lots placed on sale and their proceeds, even if the last three years have seen heavy fluctuations, if not a slight decline. However, by overshadowing the reality of the world of dealers, auction results are only a partial indicator of the health of a sector characterised by deep restructuring. Between a generational shift among collectors, sourcing difficulties, and a complex balance between auction houses and dealers, what does the future hold? Collectors: a new generation takes the reins? In the eyes of Alain Lecomte from the gallery Abla & Alain Lecomte, specialised in ancient African arts, there’s no doubt about it: the sector is in for a shakeup: “The tribal-art market is at its early stages; we are talking about a form of art that is still relatively unknown by the international market. Everything is yet to be achieved. The current market — more specifically, that of ancient African art, but in my opinion, the same goes for other forms of tribal art — is mainly made up of passionate enthusiasts, people who invest themselves, who read specialist books, who spend a great deal of time on the topic, without necessarily being very well off. These are sincere collectors, and their number is growing, both in Europe and in the United States. They need to hurry up and create their collections, because soon the African continent is going to wake up. We can see...

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Alex Arthur, Tribal Art and its market

What are the evolutions and limitations of the tribal-art market? How is it nurtured by the contributions of research and ethnology? Alex Arthur offers us a few indications… Alexander Arthur is a well-informed collector and a fine connoisseur of tribal arts. For over twenty years, he has been the publishing director of Tribal Art Magazine. In 2009, he also became involved, with Pierre Moos, in the management of Parcours des Mondes. You are one of the key protagonists of Parcours des Mondes. How have you seen the fair evolve? I actually participated in the very first Parcours so I remember well how it consisted of only a handful of galleries. But the concept was a good one and it grew rapidly into the world’s premier event. The event grew in quality as has the market overall and Parcours des Mondes has become the annual focal point for many galleries today, a situation that is reflected in the quality of many artworks on show and the number of thematic exhibitions. Tell us about vetting at the fair. Like other fields of art, forgeries will always be an issue, but as the market has evolved, so has the level of expertise. Most of the problem is solved by the fair’s selection of exhibitors. The exhibitors at Parcours are all professional and almost exclusively seasoned veterans who go to great lengths to avoid mistakes. The initial selection for the catalogue is open to all exhibitors and we collect and compare comments on these artworks. If a piece raises doubt, we replace it, whilst others may be replaced because they are deemed to be of insufficient quality. For the event itself, we have a knowledgeable committee that strolls around the galleries during setup and will let us know if they see a problem....

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To the sources of Tribal Art

As every year since 2001, the fair takes place in Saint-Germain-des-Prés for a week devoted to tribal art. Until 17 September, this gathering of 67 merchants offers a guaranteed change of scenery in the heart of Paris. Parcours des Mondes, the fair steered by Pierre Moos – also managing director of Tribal Art magazine – has become the most important event in its field, leaping ahead of its most reputed European rivals. Incontestable success that confers on Parcours des Mondes its unique renown. No small feat, seeing how the schedule of events around classic African, Pacific, pre-Columbian and Asian arts, has taken off. Between the BRAFA and the BRUNEAF in Brussels, the TEFAF in Maastricht, the Tribal Art Fair in Amsterdam and London, and even Frieze New York which, this year, backed the decision to welcome tribal-art dealers in its alleys — Donald Ellis (New York, Vancouver), L & R Entwistle and Co (London) and Galerie Meyer (Paris) —, one thing is sure: we can no longer keep count of the number of international rendezvous organised in honour of tribal art. France is no exception to this infatuation. Ever since 2016, the Bourgogne Tribal Show has been held at Besanceuil in the Saône-et-Loire region, and its second edition last May was well received. Unthinkable, just ten years ago. “Tribal art is a sector that is rising more and more interest,” comments a satisfied Pierre Moos. “The multiplication of fairs helps promote this speciality in the eyes of an increasingly wide public.” From 12 to 17 September, in the space of just five days, over sixty dealers are therefore offering the public the opportunity to discover the most beautiful pieces available on the market, via exhibitions — sometimes themed —, lectures, book publications and discussions. Special Guest As is the case every...

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Archaeology and tribal art: transactions under pressure

Stratospheric-level auctions, overheated prices… The market for archaeological and tribal pieces is booming! We retrace the phenomenon of star status for these highly coveted objects. An issue that we examine by seeing what dealers, collectors and members of the scientific community have to say… Ever since the start of the 2000s, the tribal-art market has literally exploded, with its turnover jumping up from €13.7 million in 2001 to €92.1 in 2014. Despite this strong growth, tribal art remains a marginal market, which represents only 0.68 % of the global turnover of art auction sales, in other words, 40 times less than the proportion occupied by modern art, according to a report published by Artkhade, Art Media Agency and Art Analytics in December 2015. Largely in front, Africa and Oceania leave other geographical zones behind in the shadows. Between 2000 and 2014, these two continents represented 64.8 % of lots offered at auctions and 81 % of the sector’s total sales proceeds. Above all, the market’s growth has been accompanied by a multiplication of auctions raising millions of euros in sales rooms. In 2014 alone, fourteen lots went over the million-euro mark, yielding a total of €39 million, in other words 42 % of the yearly turnover of the tribal market at auctions. “The market turned around when the first major public sales were held, first the sale of the Hubert Goldet collection in 2001, then above all the Vérité sale in Paris in 2006 [editorial note: which totalled €44 million at Drouot]. A spectacular sale, on the media and marketing front as well,” explains Didier Claes, African arts specialist. “This was the first time that African objects reached such records, including a Fang mask which went for €5 million. This was an important milestone for the acceptance of this...

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Christopher “Kip” Forbes

He is vice president of the jewel of the American financial press, a great wine lover (Lafite Rothschild) and an enthusiast of the Second Empire. He is Christopher Forbes, president of the Biennale Paris for this 2017 edition. An “ambassador” of shock aesthetics, a collector and a patron. An encounter. Christopher Forbes, vice president of Forbes Publishing and an extremely well-connected art collector, is a Francophile. And here’s proof: as the new school year starts, he’s ready in place as the new president of Biennale Paris. Christopher “Kip” Forbes is therefore presiding over the destiny of the “Biennale Committee”, which this year comprises Prince Amyn Aga Khan, Max Blumberg, Gary Tinterow and Roxana Velásquez. While Forbes takes care to specify that “the decision to improve and raise the quality standards of Biennale Paris was taken before I joined the committee”, he has also confided to Art Media Agency that “the committee members, who are not affiliated with the Syndicat National des Antiquaires, are either collectors or genuine connoisseurs, or else work closely with those who are”. Before going on to say: “We’ll all try to attract as many people as possible to the fair this year.” At the same time, he remains discreet on how exactly these interpersonal networks operate, how friendships develop on the art market… Regarding the Committee’s vice president, Benjamin Steinitz, a specialist in decorative objects and classical furniture, Christopher Forbes has confessed that he has “long admired and appreciated his presentations at various art and antiquities fairs”, while becoming personally acquainted with him only recently, via the committee. Similarly, he only met the SNA’s new president Mathias Ary Jan for the first time at the launch of the Biennale Committee, at the syndicate’s head office on Boulevard Malesherbes in Paris, on 15 November 2016. So...

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