Garra Hook

Hunstein Range, Upper Sepik,
Papua New Guinea

Bahinemo People

Carved wood and pigments
20th century
Height: 39 ¾ in. (101 cm)

Ex collection Michael Hamson, USA

Published: Sepik: Hooks, Figures & Masks, 2018

Price: on request

Photograph of the sculpture by Henry Moore:
Three Points 1939-40, cast before 1949; Henry Moore OM, CH 1898-1986, Tate, London
© Tate, London 2018
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved, DACS / www.henry-moore.org

Melanesia – Papua New Guinea
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In the region of the Hunstein Mountains, upriver on the Sepik River and west of the Korewori, the garra hooks featuring water spirits were used during initiations by the Bahinemo populations. These sculptures are distinguished by their minimalism and their extreme stylization of form.
In the late 1930s, the British sculptor Henry Moore (1898–1986) seemed irresistibly attracted by sharply pointed, hooked shapes, as illustrated by his preparatory drawings from the period.
In the reference book, “Primitivism in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern” (MoMA New York, 1984, p. 607), Alan Wilkinson noted the marked interest of the artist for Oceanic sculpture. In a text from 1941, Henry Moore himself evoked “New Guinea carvings, with drawn out spider-like extensions and bird-beak elongations…“.
His sculpture Three Points from 1939-1940 (illustrated above) calls to mind intriguing echoes of garra figures.