Africa

Tsogho-Vuvi Mask

Gabon

Carved wood and pigments
Early 20th century
Height: 12 ½ in. (32 cm)

Ex collection Bernard Dulon, Paris
Ex collection Didier Claes, Brussels
Ex collection Daniel Hourdé, Paris
Ex private collection, Paris since 2005

Yale University Archive GVR : 0026535-02

Published in: AfriCubisme, 2018

Price: on request

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The white masks of Gabon had a major influence on modern art, in the image of the famous Fang mask – much admired by Picasso – belonging to Vlaminck: « It’s mind-boggling, its expression disturbing: these are shapes coming from the outdoors, from bright light… It is thus understandable that the way the volumes relate enable them to express light, or what happens when light coincides with one shape or another. »* André Derain, 7 March 1906.
This type of mask was used during initiation ceremonies among the Tsohgho and more widely in central Gabon for Mvudi or Bwiti rituals. The dancer wearing the mask would appear at dusk or dawn, emerging from the mountain mists. Women and children were not allowed to see the mask.

* Correspondence with Maurice de Vlaminck after a visit to the ethnographic collections of the British Museum