The Highlight of the upcoming African & Oceanic Art auction at Sotheby’s in Paris, is this Bamana sculpture with its profound understanding of form. Early 20th century painters and sculptors were influenced by the “Negro” art which was to profoundly change creativity in the modern world. It was also magnificently apparent in the exhibit entitled Primitivism displayed along with works by Max Ernst.
The Kònò mask can not simply be reduced to the powerful wild animals which its forms evoke in this case probably the hyena (long ears embodying the predator’s sentiency) and the elephant (wisdom, intelligence) the combination of which is remindful of the polymorphism of the powerful divinities whom the priests must influence favourably.
…brilliantly translated by the sculptor through the paradox of its absolute formal purity, and in this respect it resembles no other Kònò mask. Above and beyond the obviously perfectly accomplished work and the significant fact that the roots of its forcefulness delve into the subconscious, the emotions aroused in us by the arresting beauty of this masterpiece of Bamana art are the ultimate confirmation of its importance.
Lot 58: A Bamana Masterpiece: Kònò Society Mask, Mali, Estimate €300,000 – €400,000, African & Oceanic Art Auction, Thursday, Dec 3, at Sotheby’s, Paris
Update: Hammer Price €1,408,750