Los Angeles

“Primitive Art”

Harry A. Franklin Gallery

One of the finest collections of primitive art ever assembled for sale is now at the Franklin Gallery. Handsome, and frequently major pieces from Africa, the South Pacific, and South America are displayed in a lavish installation.

Although pieces from these widely divergent areas exhibit different motifs and, configurations which readily identify the origin, it is not the differences but the similarities that are remarkable. Each piece originally had a magic and/or spiritual function––either to keep away bad spirits or court the good ones. Even functional items, such as drums, hooks for suspending baskets, stools, chairs, and supporting posts were carved with ancestor figures (sources of power), fertility symbols, and half-man half-animal motifs. Interestingly, one of the most important pieces in the exhibition––a Dan-N’gere dance mask made of carved wood, tusks, hair, and metal––was once in the collection of Georges Rouault, and two mosaic feather masks from an early extinct Brazilian tribe are exceedingly rare.

––Virginia Allen