“Parcours des Mondes”

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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Javier Peres, art out of time

Iconoclast or iconophile? Innovative, or the product of an era? This year, Parcours des Mondes has invited Berlin gallerist Javier Peres to exhibit a few pieces from his personal contemporary-art collection alongside a selection of dealers’ works. The recent years have demonstrated a step-up in boldness amongst exhibition curators. Events such as “Bord des Mondes” (Palais de Tokyo, 2015), “Une Brève Histoire de l’Avenir” (Louvre, 2015) and “Carambolages” (Grand Palais, 2016), have brought together works without any immediate or flagrant historical ties, but other less obvious links. History has not been cast aside, but played down in relation to anthropological or formal connections. In this way, these exhibitions can be compared to essays or protocols rather than demonstrations, their intention less being to highlight a moment in art history than to speak about Man, to investigate the great history of human representations, or to operate formal matches that convey meaning. This same audacity is behind the appealing display of classic African art next to contemporary art. In this way, in May this year, Bernard de Grunne and Almine Rech joined forces to organise an exhibition that was highly publicised: “Imaginary Ancestors”, unveiled at Almine Rech’s New York gallery. The latter restaged a Paul Guillaume exhibition shown at the Durand-Ruel gallery in 1933 (displaying Fang sculptures next to contemporary works of the time, proof that this curatorial gesture has been around for a while), and in parallel, matched “modern primitivists” with artists such as Joe Bradley, Mark Grotjahn, Ana Mendieta, James Turrell and Erika Verzutti. Javier Peres is familiar with this game of mix-and-match. The gallerist (Peres Projects, Berlin) has already played it on three occasions. First of all, in 2014, in his Karl Marx Allee gallery, with the exhibition “Group Spirit”, at which he showed Bundu helmet-masks from his personal collection...

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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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Parcours des Mondes: Whirlwind in Saint-Germain-des-Prés

A Bakongo nail fetish, a Jivaro shrunken head, or a sculpture from Papua New Guinea… From “museum-quality” pieces to charming finds, we look back to a crazy week: the Parcours des Mondes. The tribal-arts market is fascinating. Less dangerous than operating a uranium mine in Gabon, more restful than Tintin’s adventures in Congo, it has experienced an unprecedented boom in the last fifteen years or so. The quest for “magic” objects from Africa, Oceania or the Americas draws dealers and collectors to Paris every year at the quirky Parcours des Mondes * in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district. This eminently tribal rendezvous, a deliciously ritualistic ceremony, brings together the cream in international dealing every September. To give a literary comparison, one might say that the magic of the Parcours des Mondes is a bit like the shock inflicted by L’Afrique fantôme… it is just as enchanting as Michel Leiris’ book. The type of week that might set you into a trance until Christmas. Following on from the BRUNEAF (Brussels Non European Art Fair) and Tribal Art, Bryan Reeves’ fair held at the start of September in London, the Parcours des Mondes follows the singular trail of the so-called “remote” arts whose attraction seems boundless. Even Audrey Azoulay, French minister of culture and communication, fell under the spell of Punu masks, Kota relics and other nail fetishes. And when great state officials venture to the jungle of galleries (such as Meyer or Flak), crossing the Rue des Beaux-Arts just as Livingstone traversed the Zambezi Valley, then you really know that these works are finding favour high up. “Best show ever” Alain Bovis gathered some “small wonders” – around one hundred minuscule statuettes, amulets and jewels – for an exhibition named “Beautysmall”. Bernard Dulon was in top form with Tsogho statue masterpieces from...

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