Art is where we belong

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Size 80 cm
Material Wood
Origin Nigeria

In the late sixties, Jacques Kerchache, Philippe Guimiot, Alain Dufour,
Lucien Van de Velde and others brought back from Nigeria the first cluster, seen by the occidental market, of what will be called the Mumuye figures. They've been a major source of wonder and imagination and the creativity of the mumuye artists has been celebrated ever since in every major institutional and private collections.

During his visits to the British Museum between 1922 and 1924, Henry Moore sketched, among some works catching his eyes, a powerful wooden figure brought back from Nigeria by the Captain E S Lilley in 1921 and donated to the Museum in 1922. This figure can be compared in many points to the figure presented here. The composition of the face with this large T-shaped nose, the deeply carved round eyes, the mouth,... are features shared by the two figures, even the slight head tilt giving the dynamic attitude to the figures.

The compositions of the bodies are different. While the British Museum figure has compressed proportions, the presented figure is more hieratic and powerful. This difference could be explained by the different gender of the figures but also mainly by their respective sizes (48 and 80 cm).

Even if the result of a scientific analysis has to be interpreted with a lot of care,
we requested a C14 test for this figure. All the signals date the death of the wood used to carved the sculpture before 1910. This estimated creation date corroborates that the presented figure and the British Museum figure have been carved at
the same time but also and probably by the same artist or workshop.

From the early discovery of a artwork of its type in 1921 to its own discovery
in the late 1960's, we stand, with this Mumuye figure, with a rare and powerful witness of the two major events in the discovery of one of the major artistic cultures. 


Lucien van de Velde, Antwerp, 1970's

Fritz Koenig collection, Landshut 1970's

Kurt Egger collection, Heidelberg

European collection