Papua New Guinea
Coastal area or Nagum Boiken, Northern Sepik
Carved wood, fiber, pigments
Late 19th or early 20th century
Height: 9 ¾ in. (25 cm)
Ex collection Charles Ratton, Paris
Ex Loudmer, Arts Primitifs, 27 June 1991
Ex collection Georges Goldfayn, Paris since 1991
This incarnation of a powerful clan spirit played a prominent role in the initiations of young men. It also served during events marking different stages in their lives (war, rituals or social events). Guardians of the clan’s well-being, these figures were kept in the Men’s House. A place for sharing and discussion, the Men’s House constituted the very heart of the ceremonial life in the villages of the Sepik.
In terms of provenance, this figure formerly belonged to legendary antiques dealer Charles Ratton in Paris. It was acquired at a Paris auction in 1991 by George Goldfayn, an author, publisher, man of letters and cinema. Passionate about art, he was closely associated with the Surrealist circle in Paris from 1950 onwards. A close friend and confidant of André Breton, Georges Goldfayn participated in the launch of the gallery À l'Étoile scellée, 11 rue du Pré-aux-Clercs in Paris at the end of 1952. Breton was the artistic director while Goldfayn was the gallery administrator.
Under the aegis of André Breton, he began collecting ancient Oceanic and North American art in the 1950s and continued to do so until his death.