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Galerie Meyer FINE OCEANIC & ESKIMO ART June 12 – 18, 2017 Exhibiting at Jean-Francois Heim & Angela Berney Fine Arts Andlauer Hof - Münsterplatz 17 Basel 4051 Switzerland


I am very pleased to offer this short catalogue for my exhibition at the gallery Jean-Francois Heim & Angela Berney Fine Arts during ART Basel 2017. The Oceanic and Eskimo selections each include a number of important cultural and cultual master works, along with more mundane objects of functional and daily use. The Pacific section includes pieces from New Guinea, New Zealand, Easter Island and Fiji. The superb and extremely rare Easter Island Lizard-Man, or Moko, was originally part of the illustrious James Hooper collection and the iconic flute stopper from the Yuat River was most probably collected by Margaret Mead herself while investigating the “Mundugumor“ People of the Yuat River between 1931 and 1933 before becoming part of the mythical La Korrigane Expedition of 1934-1936. Further along in the Oceanic selection there are two art-works collected in the Korwar area by the surrealist author Jacques Viot in 1929 as well as a unique and enigmatic “fish-man“ that was long cherished by the the father of surrealism - André Breton. The Eskimo cultures of the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska are represented from the earliest periods of Ekven and Okvik through to the early 19th century. The seated Chukchi figure with its classic Eskimo features dates back to the time of Jesus Christ and shows that a thriving, highly artistic and technologically advanced group of people were active on the Siberian Coast of the Strait two thousand years ago. Their neighbors, the Okvik on Saint Lawrence Island, produced the massive head used most probably in relation to shamanic rituals in the same time-frame. The Punuk, the subsequent culture in the Bering Strait and the Alaskan coast, created the iconic, and superbly carved “stargazer“ in the period between 600 and 900 A.D. Later, the Thule culture swept across Alaska and Canada and carved the delightful and smiling iinruq figure - guardian of the lamp flame and thus life ! Almost every art work in my exhibition has at some point in time belonged to notable collections and many have extensive provenance. Such is the case of the shield collected by Neuhaus in 1909 and the Sepik River mask collected by missionaries from the S.V.D. of Steyle. In the Eskimo selection the large Okvik head once belonged to André Schoeller whilst the iinruq was collected by Lt. Commander Moser in 1898.


An extraordinary and rare headrest representing a zoomorphic quadruped standing on a rectangular base. The animal’s face is of typical Korwar form. The body is elongated and curved to form the neck-bar of the headrest. It is supported by four massive legs with carved feet. The animal’s genitals are placed behind the junction of the hind legs – reminiscent of a monkey on all fours. Yapen Island, Korwar Area, Vogelkop Peninsula, Geelvink Bay, Indonesian New Guinea, Melanesia. Wood with an excellent patina of age and wear. 33 cm. 19th century. Collected in the field by Jacques Viot circa 1929. An inventory label on the underside of the baseplate in French script : “Oreille…/( sing.../village de …/ile Jappen…/(il n'y a pas d…/dans cette ile …/les légendes en… “. This label is written in Viot’s handwriting of the mid to late 1930's and appears to be an explanatory description of the piece with more details than usually offered on field inventory labels. The label is of similar paper and dimensions to those used by Viot on the pieces he collected in the area in 1929. The field inventory label is now missing on this headrest. Viot, an artist on the fringe of the Surrealist movement went to Dutch New Guinea as an agent for the gallerist Pierre Loeb and is famous for bringing back to France most of the sculptures from the Lake Sentani area. He also visited the Korwar area collecting extensively on Jappen (Yapen) and Kurudu Islands and in the general area. Ex coll. : Philippe Bourgoin - acquired from André Fourquet & Ascher Eskenazi along with a group of objects collected by Viot ; Gal. Meyer, Paris ; private collection, Paris. Published : Meyer, Anthony JP: OCEANIC ART / OZEANISCHE KUNST / ART OCEANIEN. Könemann Verlag, Köln. 1995, page 58, fig. 36/37.


An extremely rare fishing or net float carved as a stylized fish decorated with two Korwar figures. The smaller figure is carved as if inset into the front of the body of the main figure whose body is represented with typical scroll and foliage motifs. Twin figure representations are relatively rare in the Korwar area. These figures, one large and one small, represent ancestral beings - possibly parent and child - possibly a primordial couple. The coif of the larger figure is pierced for attachment and the lower extremity is carved to represent a fish tail. Cenderawasih (Geelvink) Bay, Korvar Area, Vogelkop Peninsula, Indonesian New Guinea, Melanesia. Wood with a good patina of age and wear. 25 cm. 19/20th century. The float is mounted on an un-signed Kichizo Inagaki base. Inagaki refused to continue to sign his bases during and after after WWII as he was unable to obtain the right wood-stain. The nail insert seems to have been added later. Collected by Jacques Viot circa 1929 on either Kurudu or Yapen islands. Ex coll. : The French artist Fernand Devèze, then by descent to his nephew Mr. Bergognon. It is probable that Devèze acquired the float through the Parisian dealer Marie-Ange Ciolskowska, as she was one of his main suppliers.

The float appears in the lower left corner of the photograph taken by Jacques Viot in 1929 on Yapen published originally in L'Art Vivant, avril 1931, Jacques Viot: "Beauté du Monde La Baie de Geelvink", page (or) fig. : 172. The Viot provenance has been lost until I acquired this work of art in 2009 and recognized it in the Viot photograph.


A mask representing an ancestor spirit. Lower Sepik River, PNG, Melanesia. Wood, cane and pigments. 34.5 cm. 19th/20th century. Ex: SVD Mission Museum (Societas Verbi Divini - Society of the Divine Word), Haus der VÜlker und Kulturen, Sankt Augustin, Germany, Inv. N° 71.10.390. Collected in the field by a missionary of the order. Ex: Mia & Loed van Bussel, Amsterdam (Z.018.) ; private collection, the Netherlands.


Elisa & André Breton, 42 rue Fontaine. Photo : © Ida Kar, 1960. The “fish-man“ is visible here in the center of the “wall“ just behind André Breton. In later years it was moved over to his right - in front of the window - where it remained until the auction of the collection.

A very rare and probably unique architectural element which possibly is related to clan representations. This type of roof ornament would have been attached as the finial to the main outer roof supports of a ceremonial Men’s House. Murik Lakes to North Coast area, PNG, Melanesia. Wood with traditional and European pigments ; minor conservative repairs and old damage. 86 cm. 19th/20th century. Ex coll.  : André Breton, 42 rue Fontaine, Paris 75009, lot 6116 of the André Breton auction, 2003. Unfortunately, Breton did not keep records and there is no information available about the original source of this figure in his collection. Private collection, NY. Published : Paris, Musée national d'Art moderne/Centre Georges-Pompidou,  André Breton, La beauté convulsive, 1991,. p. 79 (photo Sabine Weiss, 1960, in the atelier), p. 258. Exhibited  : Paris, Musée national d'Art moderne/Centre Georges-Pompidou, André Breton, La beauté convulsive, 1991. Ex private Collection, NY.


Sacred flute “stopper“, or wusear representing the son of the Asin, the great mother crocodile. Biwat People, Yuat River, Sepik River, PNG, Melanesia. Wood with rattan and fiber attachments. The nose and upper left arm are re-attached. 64 cm. Early 20th century. Collected by Comte & Comtesse de Ganay, Charles et Régine van den Broek and Jean Ratisbonne on the La Korrigane Expedition of 1934/36. Originally purchased by de Ganay, van den Broek & Ratisbonne from the Burns Philp shipping company headquarters in Rabaul, New Britain in August 1935. The original expedition collection number 1130 appears on the Musée de l’Homme deposit inventory card and mistakenly Inv. N° D.39.3.523. Subsequently removed by Mme. de Ganay from the Musée de l’Homme in 1961. Ex private collection, Paris. Ex Galerie Meyer, Paris  ; private collection, NY. Following extensive research by Christian Coiffier, it now appears that the flute stoppers acquired by the La Korrigane expedition at Burns Philip in Rabaul - notably this example - were those collected in the field by the anthropologist Margaret Mead and originally destined for the Museum of Natural History in New York. Margaret Mead was active on the Yuat River along with her husband Reo Fortune in the early years of the 1930’s and carried out extensive field work amongst the so-called Mundugumor as she mistakenly named them.


An extremely fine and rare, minute paint dish in the form of a stylized crocodile with a human head. Lower Sepik / Yuat River area , PNG, Melanesia. Wood with a superb patina of age and use. Minor restoration of the tail loop. 18th/19th century. 16.2cm. Ex. Coll. : Friede, Rye ; Lunshof, Paris.


A coconut cup used for drinking water or soup that is carved in low relief. Abelam, Prince Alexander Mountains, PNG, Melanesia. Coconut shell and traces of pigment with a fine patina of wear and age. 13 cm ø, 19/20th century. Ex Galerie Meyer, Paris ; Private collection, Paris.


An extremely fine and early War-Shield, or epok. These shields are representations of important ancestors. The face on this example is carved with more prominent features than most and shows large pig tusks jutting from the nose to encircle the protruding mouth. The incised decoration on this example is unusual and very finely done. The central vertical band is carved with 5 stylized human figures in the splayed hocker position. The concentric scroll patterns on either side of the central ridge are very well balanced and rhythmic. A large quadruped or stylized human figure is carved on the forehead again in the splayed hocker position. The outer edges of the shield are carved with dentate motifs and the right side of the shield is pierced along its length to support the imposing fiber fringe that would normally be attached. The rear is scooped out with two vertical pierced ridges and one cross bar remaining for the handle. Collected at Karau village, Murik Lakes, Lower Sepik River, New Guinea, Melanesia. Wood and cane with a fine deep red ochre pigment and lime highlighting (no known restorations or repairs). Stone carved. 160 x 22 x 17 cm. 19th century. Provenance : Field collected between 1908 and 1910 by Dr. Richard Neuhauss ; Joe Hloucha, Prague ; Náprstek Ethnographic Museum, Prague ; Will Hoogstraate, Amsterdam ; possibly Konietzko, Hamburg ; E. Urhart, Santiago & Paris ; John Friede, New York. Ill. : Neuhauss, R. : DEUTSCH NEU-GUINEA. Dietrich Reimer Verlag, Berlin, 1911, vol. 1, 206b, p. 306. “This shield N° 26 617 was in the Náprstek Museum from 1936 to 1965. In 1936 it was acquired from Czech collector Josef Hloucha (1881-1957) and in 1965 it was exchanged for other objects with Mr. Will Hoogstraate from Amsterdam (Galerie D´Eendt n.v., Spuistraat 270-272). It is noted in the inventory book translated from the Czech : "War shield from black wood, decorated with carving and lime, height 158,6 cm, width 22,8 cm. Oceania, New Guinea, Sepik". The number 64/36 indicates that this object was acquired in 1936, as the 64th item of the year. It is also noted that the object was exchanged for others with Mr. Hoogstraate from Amsterdam. Information kindly provided by Monika Badurova, curator for South America & Oceanic Department, Náprstkovo museum on 14/02/07.


A rare Lizard-Man or tangata moko (moai moko). The distinctive Lizard-Man figures (moko) of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) are composite beings with the heads and tails of lizards, the fan-like tails of birds, and the bodies of humans. Reportedly placed at the thresholds of dwellings or ceremonial structures or hung from interior rafters, the figures may depict powerful spirits, who served as supernatural guardians. Small lizardman images were also worn as pendants by dancers during feasts. According to conventional characteristics, the half-man, half-reptile figure stretches out in a sinuous movement, bringing to mind both the fluidity of an animal and the process of metamorphosis; the arms are folded on the chest in the axis of the body, the hands are joined together under the chin. More than an anthropo-zoomorphic entity whose identity is marked in the combination of its human and lizard features, the fluidity of these figures' movement, motion and composition clearly brings to mind the notion of metamorphosis. In Easter Island, as in the Marquesas, Society, Austral, Cook, Hawaiian islands and New Zealand, the mythology of the lizard takes pride of place, as it comes and goes between the surface and the depths of the earth. According to Orliac (2008 : 142-143) "they are the hosts of graves and of the world of the dead; thus they carry the tale of the actions of the living and bring back to the light messages from the ancestors". They never appear as such in sculpture, but their features are visible in these famous Lizard-Men figures : Moai Tangata Moko. As with the rest of the Easter Island statuary, their importance remains mostly mysterious. According to Orliac (idem: 144), the poor reputation of lizards in Rapa Nui suggests that they were probably used to "protect humans against the ailments caused by certain reptiles that are evil or manipulated by sorcerers". As with each of the pieces in this corpus studied by Catherine and Michel Orliac, the present Lizard-Man was carved in an arched branch of a Sophora toromiro tree. According to Orliac (idem), this exclusivity highlights the symbolic connection – stronger even than the bond with the other otherworldly dwellers – which this tree has with the reptilian entity. The present figure's size, the use of toromiro wood, the quality of the sculpture and the depth of the patina places it amongst the fifty known "lizard men" figures which were sculpted before 1870. Easter Island, Polynesia. Wood (Sophora toromiro), 35 cm. Early to mid 19th century. Provenance: James Hooper Collection, London (H377) ; Christie's London June, 19, 1979, lot 192 ; Carlo Monzino, Lugano ; Private Collection, Switzerland ; Entwistle Gallery, Paris 2008 ; Tomkins collection, NY. Pub. : Phelps, Steven: ART AND ARTEFACTS OF THE PACIFIC, AFRICA, AND THE AMERICAS-THE JAMES HOOPER COLLECTION. Hutchinson & Co. LTD. and Christie’s, Manson & Woods, London. 1975, Pl. 44, page 88 & 419. See the identical example formerly in the collection of Daniel Cordier – and quite possibly by the same artist; and those in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin (inv. n° 1880.1603); and in the W.O Oldman collection.  Pub. : Steven Phelps. Art and Artefacts of the Pacific, Africa and the Americas: The James Hooper Collection. Hutchinson & Co. London 1976: 88 (plate 44) and 418-419, number 377.  Christie's London. Melanesian and Polynesian Art from the James Hooper Collection, June 19, 1979: 60-61, lot 192. Charles W. Mack, Polynesian Art at Auction. Mack-Nasser Publishing, Northboro, 1982: 78-79, item 2, plate 25.


Simon Spierer of Geneva was a worldrenowned wholesale tobacco trader and later a modern art dealer with his companion Marie-Louise Jeanneret. His world famous collection or "Forest" of large, standing, modern and contemporary sculptures by the likes of Brancusi, Giacometti, Arp and Moore are now housed in a special display in the Historical Museum in Darmstadt. His interest in sculpture and modern art brought him to acquire a small number of important core pieces of Tribal Art both African and Oceanic. These tribal art works were displayed within the context of his “Forest of Sculptures“, however they were not part of the donation to Darmstadt. As can be seen here the Maori gable figure was a prominent part of his collection of Tribal Art and displayed in confrontation facing the “Forest“…

The Forest of Sculptures in the home of Simon Spierer in Geneva. The Maori gable figure is circled in red on the table to the left.


A powerfully carved male tekoteko, or gable figure, an architectural element from the roof of a ceremonial meeting house or Marae. The flattened, frontal figure offers a strongly sculpted body and features in the aggressive Polynesian Stance camped with legs apart and slightly bent, three fingered hands held to the stomach, and the head sitting low on the wide neck. The sculptor has used here all the available breadth of the wood to block out the squared head, shoulders, arms and legs widening the figure to offer maximum visibility. The face is organized to focus on the three main components of the squinting slanted eyes, the wide nose, and the open mouth with the aggressive extended tongue. The figure wears a unique form of four-pointed crown and there is a frontal knob at the center of the forehead. The tekoteko stands on an elongated shaft carved in full relief with seven down curving hooks. The ocular, nasal and oral cavities are cut through, creating openings through which sunlight could stream. This is a very special and unique effect known on only two other tekoteko (ex Pierre VeritĂŠ collection, Paris; Volkerkunde Museum, Berlin). Maori, New Zealand, Polynesia. Wood (Kauri Pine : Agathis australis) with a fine patina of age, exposure and wear. 74 cm. 18th/19th century. Ex collection Simon Spierer, Geneva ; Adrian Schlag, Brussels ; Daniel HourdĂŠ, Paris ; Private Collection, NY.


A very fine classical kali dabala, or chiefly headrest from Tonga. The long flared neck-bar and square sectioned twin feet are representative of the finest architectural design. There is an unequaled finesse in the balance of the volumes and shapes used to construct this mundane device. Every single feature of this headrest is carefully thought out and perfectly crafted to achieve the refinement reserved for a person of the highest rank. Tonga, Polynesia. Hard wood and coconut fiber. 57.7 x 12.8 x 15.2 x 13 cm. 19th century. Ex coll. : Leo Fleischman, Sydney, inv. N° LF/I19 ; Inv. N° Roy 399 ; Galerie Meyer, Paris ; F. Pujol, Barcelona. N° 59 OCEANIC HEADRESTS / APPUIE-NUQUE OCEANIENS. Gal. Meyer, Paris, 2004.


A totokia war-club used as an assassination weapon for piercing the skull. Made from a carefully tutored tree, the totokia's head is carved out of the massive rootball with the central spike carved from the taproot. The grip and shaft have been left plain. Fiji, Polynesia. Iron wood (Casuarina equisetifolia). 73 x Ă˜ 14 cm. 19th century. Ex Coll.: A. Bernand, Paris.


An extraordinary large head from a shaman/ancestor effigy. Okvik culture, St. Lawrence Island, Bering Strait, Alaska. Mineralized walrus tusk (Odobenus rosmarus divergens). 11.2 cm. 300 BC – 100 AD. Ex coll. : André Schoeller, Paris ; Renaud Vanuxem (Pub.: Time Bless Art, Galerie Vanuxem, 2004) ; Michel Boulanger, Liège.


A powerfully carved, asexual, seated figure with typical Eskimo features. Maritime Chukchi, called Anqallyt  ("the sea people") in the Chukchi language, Eastern coastal Siberia. Mineralized walrus tusk (Odobenus rosmarus divergens). 200 BC – 300 AD. 7 cm.


A very fine female figure. Punuk culture, Bering Strait, Alaska. Mineralized walrus tusk (Odobenus rosmarus divergens). 600 – 900 AD. 6,7 cm.


Arm with hand and extended fingers. The hand is drilled with circle/dot tattoo motifs. Okvik Culture, St Lawrence Island, Bering Strait (or possibly Ipiutak), Alaska. Mineralized walrus tusk (Odobenus rosmarus divergens). 10.5 cm. 600 – 900 AD. Ex Norman Hurst, Cambridge, Mass. Exh. & Pub. : Norman Hurst : Arctic ivory: Two thousand years of Alaskan Eskimo art and artifacts, Cambridge, Mass., 1998, Fig. 11, p. 12. SURRÉALISME & ARTS PRIMITIFS Une révolution du regard. Fondation Pierre Arnaud, Lens (CH), 19/06/2014 – 5/10/2014.


An exceptional shaman's amulet, or iinruq (iinrut), representing a half figure with extensive tattoos on both the front and rear of the torso. Yup'ik (Eskimo), possibly Cape Vancouver, Alaska. Walrus tusk (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) and Asian or European glass bead. 18th/19th century. 7.3 cm. Provenance : Collected by USN Lt. Commander Jefferson F. Moser (1848-1934), Captain of the USBF steamer Albatross (1897 to 1901) between October 12, 1897 and April 26, 1898.


A powerfully carved enigmatic human figure with its head thrown back in the position of a “stargazer�. Alaska, USA. Mineralized walrus tusk (Odobenus rosmarus divergens). 6.5 cm. Late Punuk to early Thule Culture, 900 - 1600 AD.


Galerie Meyer FINE OCEANIC & ESKIMO ART June 12 – 18, 2017

Exhibiting at : Jean-Francois Heim & Angela Berney Fine Arts Andlauer Hof - Münsterplatz 17 Basel 4051 Switzerland

GALERIE MEYER - Oceanic & Eskimo Art 17 rue des Beaux-Arts Paris 75006 France +33 680 108 022 ajpmeyer@gmail.com www.meyeroceanic.art

Profile for Galerie Meyer - Oceanic Art

Basel Oceanic and Eskimo Art exhibition 2017  

A short catalogue presenting highlights of my exhibition of Oceanic & Eskimo art at the gallery of Jean-Francois Heim and Angela Berney Fine...

Basel Oceanic and Eskimo Art exhibition 2017  

A short catalogue presenting highlights of my exhibition of Oceanic & Eskimo art at the gallery of Jean-Francois Heim and Angela Berney Fine...

Profile for ajpmeyer