African Art: a prestigious Swiss collection

Milan, Wednesday 14 October 2020


Baulé, region of Bouaké (Ivory Coast)

Wood with a black coating, traces of white dust
H 39.5 cm

Male figure.
The figure appears facing the front, symmetrical with its arms resting on its stomach, which was a sign of peace for the Baulé people. Its half-closed eyes, which resembles coffee grains, give the face an expression of recollection. The refined hairstyle is attributed to people of high class. The scarification on the body, as well as having an aesthetic function, also tell us which ethnic group it belongs to. The pronounced calves are characteristic of the oldest Baulé works. Its feet, isolated from the earth, represent the image of an idealised being who lives in the afterlife. It was restored by Baulé people with thin copper staples on the back.


€ 6.000 - 8.000

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- Maria Wyss gallery former collection (Basle);
- Former private collection (Lugano);


- VOGEL SUSAN M. “L’art Baoulé du visible et de l’invisible” Paris 1999;
- BOYER ALAIN MICHEL “Miroirs de l’invisible” articoli pubblicati sulle riviste: Arts d’Afrique Noire n° 44, pages 30 - 46 (Winter 1982) and Arts d’Afrique Noire n° 45, pages 21 - 34 (Spring 1983);
- BOYER ALAIN-MICHEL "Visions d'Afrique: Baule" Milan 2008;
- GOY BERTRAND “Cote d’Ivoire - Premieres regards sur la sculpture - 1850 / 1935” Paris 2012;

It represents what the Baulé call “the bridgegroom of the other word” or Blolo.According to religious beliefs of the time and ancient Baulé oral tradition, Blolo is a place similar to the Christian Paradise where one carries out the same activities as one does on Earth, and all beings only experience joy. As on the Earth, they live in whole families. The individuals who live in any given village have a wife and children, which are added to their earthly families and are no longer with him after they are born. This is an event which marks the day of his temporary death in Blolo. During his adolescence, after certain prophetic signs are manifested, he turns to the spiritual leader of the village to seek explanations of merit. The ”priest”, after having listened to him, orders him to have a statue carved by a sculptor. The statue will accompany him, protect him during his life on earth, and be the sign of the heavenly husband and wife’s presence materialised in the sculpture.The little statue is an object of worship and forms a sort of spiritual bond with its owner. Women have a sculpture of a male, while, on the other hand, men have a female one. This is why we now have many examples of these statues, and they are equally split between male and female representations. Baulé sculptuors became famous throughout the world for how refined their creations are. Their continuous ceremonies of worship, carried out with palm oil and vegetable fat, bestow a beautiful, glossy coating upon these sculptures.


African Art

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