2012 September Parcours Des Mondes Tribal Fair in Paris

Written by Michael Auliso and republished here with his permission.

Missing most images on page 1 and all on pages 2,3 and 4.

It was another exciting year at the Parcours des Mondes.

In spite of a recession and record high Euro Zone unemployment and climbing, the  attendance at the fair seemed high as usual.  Unlike last year where there was little evidence of a weak economy in Paris,  I began noticing some changes this year.

The number of dealers was steady at 65, but the composition changed slightly.   Surprisingly a few dealers who have exhibited for years, didn’t have a gallery this time.   I’m confident the reason is that exciting fresh material is scarce and getting more so.  There is a sense that in a couple years the great gems will be mostly gone.  The standards are so high in Paris that if a dealer has to show recycled pieces it is probably best not to exhibit.  Lack of available quality material, at reasonable prices, has begun to sideline some dealers, who chose to wait and put their best foot forward rather than show any sub par material, or have pieces that were previously exposed.

The quality of the material is why we all attend this show and it didn’t disappoint this year.   I did, however, talk with some African collectors who seemed more impressed by what they found at the auction previews.  That said, with the exception of Polynesian Art (somewhat sparsely represented), I found the quality to be stimulating as always.I’ve noted that there is a distinct model for success in Paris.  Save up material for 2-5 years or longer (if doing a thematic exhibit), don’t expose it, then blitz it in a high-impact exhibit letting the buyers clamor for it.  In reality much of this material is pre-sold days or weeks before the fair.  If you pay attention you’ll notice galleries with red dots upon opening their door supposedly for the first time.  I can’t really condemn dealers for that since it is about sales first and often they leave sold pieces on display to be enjoyed.  This technique is very effective and mastered by the dealers who have enough capital to sit on fresh pieces for years without selling.  This year this “save and release” strategy was especially well executed by Yann Ferrandin, Bruce Frank, Michael Hamson, Serge Le Guennan and others which I’ll discuss further.

In terms of sales it was apparent that great material that was priced fairly, sold well and kept selling.  The buyers are very sophisticated here and tend to yawn at “good pieces” and PAY for “incredible pieces”.  Its my understanding that a few of the local Paris dealers with permanent galleries were disappointed with sales.   You would think they might have the home court advantage, but the reality is that two thirds of the dealers are visiting which increases competition.  So the buyer psychology maybe on the side of the visiting dealers?  There is a perceived time limit to do business with them and the added curiosity and feeling of something new to be discovered.

As usual it was impossible to cover each gallery or noteworthy object, so this review is limited by my time, and permission to take photos.  Enough said, so lets have a look.

Annual Pre-Parcours Dinner Independently Hosted by Entwistle Gallery

Lance Entwistle (left) greeting guests Daniel Hourde and companion.  Located at the opulent Maison de l’Amérique Latine on Boulevard St. Germain, this dinner is an exclusive and upbeat event for art lovers to share good food and great conversation.

Wine and hors d’oeuvres in the courtyard

Lance speaking with Thomas Murray and Kristal

Bobbie & charming staff in attendance. 

A Lovely Formal Dinner Setting

About 100 guests were in attendance

  Lance holding court and chatting with guests. That chocolate desert was heaven!  What a class act by anyone’s standards.  A special thanks to Entwislte Gallery for approving coverage of their private event.

vicinity map inside the Parcours catalog


rue Guenegaud colored orange with Parcours banners

Patrick Frolich with a unique early Kota figure presented on an early “Inagaki” wood base

(Patrick Frolich) A fine Baga figure from Guinea Bissau

(Patrick Frolich)  with a New Guinea Middle Sepik stone-carved hook.  The bottom has a bird head with the base of the hook forming its wings.

Bruce Frank with an exhibit of New Guinea Boiken woven bride price “talipun” masks/ figures.  Many had surrealistic qualities.  Bruce told me this was a score from a single-owner German collection.

(Bruce Frank) Cont.

(Bruce Frank) cont.

(Bruce Frank) cont.

(Bruce Frank) cont.  Look at the surface and age on these.

John and Nicole Dintenfass live part time in Paris

Serrra’s Cameroon Buffalo mask in the window was his Parcours catalog submission

 (David Serra) with a Nigerian Afo stool

(David Serra) with a fine Yoruba divination staff

(David Serra)  Dan mask

Kevin Conru with a lovely Solomon Island Malaita dipper/ ladle

(Kevin Conru) Detail

(Kevin Conru)  In my opinion this sculpture was one of the rarest objects in the fair and one that I have never encounter before.  It is from the people of Para Micronesia of the western islands which include the Hermit, Kaniet and Niningo groups.

(Kevin Conru)  Solomon Island House Post

(Kevin Conru) Cont. A Northwest Coast Mask, Kwakiutl?

Herma Visser with a large New Caledonian Kanak figure (left) followed by a sweet New Guinea Coastal Sepik figure

Adrian Schlag.  This impressive New Guinea Ramu river mask from Friede’s collection was illustrated in the Parcours Catalog

Adrian Schlag looking at a New Guinea coconut spoon with a superb face.

(Schlag)  Detail of above.  The face being the size of a thumbnail, my cheap camera had trouble focusing.   Quite a rare little gem.

(Schlag)  Cont. with an expressive Buyu figure from the Congo

(Schlag)  Cont.  A monumental New Guinea sculpture from the East Sepik province, likely Singarin Village

Detail of above

Interior:  Wayne Heathcote’s gallery just minutes before the official opening on Tuesday at 3 pm.  Wayne and Michael Hamson taking a closer look at a object.

Heathcote cont.  One of my favorite display cases. 

(Heathcote)  A grouping of Melanesian Banks Island pudding knives

(Heathcote) with another impressive display case of Maori pieces

(Heathcote) Large New Guinea Coastal Sepik Figure

(Heathcote)  Display case containing an early Easter Island “Moi Kavakava” figure

Another view of above

(Heathcote) group of Aboriginal stone “churingas”

Michael Hamson relaxed and in the cockpit just minutes after the opening.

(Hamson) A New Guinea Ramu adze handle (Parcours catalog submission)

(Hamson) Asmat drum with full figure handle. 

(Hamson) A wonderful New Guinea Coastal Sepik food pounder

(Hamson) New Ireland male figure

(Hamson) Display case items: Left, a pre-contact Middle Sepik Sawos lime stick finial, collected in 1935 on La Korrigane expedition.  (Right) a complex element from a Sepik pear thrower resembling a fruit bat.

(Hamson) Boomerangs, churingas, and bullroarers (Papuan Gulf)

Enjoying a Starbucks coffee one morning on Pont des Arts

What a beautiful city

(rue de Seine) Roberto Gamba (left) with pal smoking in the rain

Gallery Patrick and Ondine Mestdagh.  Ondine standing next to a gorgeous Hawaiian Royal Pendant necklace “Lei Niho Palaoa”

(Mestdagh) A New Guinea Highlands shield with an undulating Centipede

(Mestdagh)  The age and use patina on this Kava bowl was noteworthy.  Fijian or Tongan 18th C.

(Galerie Flak)  Fang reliquary figure on an Inagaki base (Parcours catalog submission piece)

Effective window graphics to draw in enthusiasts.  I should note that Guilhem Montagut and Charles Moreau partnered and now have a gallery in New York on 67th street.  Their first exhibition is “100 masks” and I believe is still ongoing.

Jacaranda- Traditional African Art, New York

Ought Oh, there’s trouble.  Collector Michel Grandsard from Antwerp and (right) dealer Alan Marcuson from Brussels

Jean-Yves Coue, downstairs gallery on rue de Seine

(Jean-Yves Coue) far right in red

(Coue)  Hemba stool fragment

(Coue) with a group of New Caledonian spears of a type I had not seen before

 Paranoia?  One of 4 galleries this year hostile to photographs.

Jo De Buck Tribal Arts Brussels.  This Lele adze from the Congo was Jo’s Parcours catalog submission piece

(Jo De Buck) Expressive Lwena figures from Angola

(Jo De Buck) Lwena figures

(Jo De Buck) detail of above

Gallerie 1492 (Yannick Durand).  I immediately asked Yannick what this Mushroom-like  terracotta object was.  It is from the Mayan culture and he believed it was used as a hand drum.

(Gallerie 1492) detail of above

(Gallerie 1492)  showcase of more Pre-Columbian treasures

Gallerie Schoffel- Valluet

(Gallerie Schoffel- Valluet) had this very special shield from the Bagobo People of the S. Philippines

(Gallerie Schoffel- Valluet)  Detail of the design showing a skillful native repair reinforced with rattan

(Philippe Laeremans Tribal Art)  This dramatic piece was a Nigerian headdress likely of a Pangolin.  A cool object but I was unable to ask details.

(Gallerie J. Visser)  An impressive trio of New Britain Toali masks

(Jorris Visser)  New Britain Lor mask

(J. Visser)  I especially liked this New Britain Baining Tapa mask.

(Exterior) Entwistle gallery, Lance (left) conversing with a customer

(Entwistle gallery) New Ireland Malagan “matua” Mask

(Entwistle gallery) It is rare to see one this old and complete with the side ear panels still intact

(Entwistle gallery)  A pretty great Fang figure

(Entwistle gallery)  This impressive Dogon Mask was the submission piece for the Parcours catalog

(Entwistle gallery)  I’ve always wanted one of these Admiralty Island War Charms.  This ornament was worn by men on the nape of the neck.  After about 1932 they were no longer used.

Yann Ferrandin’s Melanesian Exhibit

Yann once again thrilled collectors, presenting an impressive oceanic exhibition with completely fresh material he had wisely chosen over a 5 year period.

A distinctive New Caledonian Kanak figure/ roof spire (left) and a New Guinea Coastal Sepik ancestor figure

New Ireland Malagan mask

This Korwar figure was one of my favorite pieces in the Fair.  Note how the ears mimic seashells

Another view. 

A New Ireland Malagan figure (left) and a New Guinea Pre-contact Karawari Aripa figure

An ancient Solomon Island canoe-prow ornament “nguzunguzu”

This 19th c. Solomon Island Malaita breast pendant was beyond-the-valley-of-cool.  It is wood with shell inlay and is generations older than anything you see on the market today.

Probably the best Asmat wood head I’ve seen. 

Group of Vanuatu material with a stellar Malekula/ Vao Island mask (left)

Arte y Ritual (Ana & Antonio Casanovas)

A large Bamana Boli sculpture from Mali. 

A small ancient New Guinea Sepik, maybe Boiken?

This important New Guinea ancestor figure is from the Kopar People of the Lower Sepik River, Singarin Village

detail of above

(Arte y Ritual cont.) A New Ireland Mask-like ritual element

This massive globular semi-eroded figure from the Membe of Cameroon, had a brute yet uncanny presence. 

A very fine Middle Sepik Iatmul Mwai mask

A powerful pre-contact New Guinea Yangoru Boiken spirit figure, Ex. Friede collection (Parcours catalog submission)

An early encrusted abstract Cameroon miniature ancestor figure, I believe Bangwa?

An Azande abstract miniature figure from the Joseph Herman collection

(Arte y Ritual cont.) Lobi figures

The charred remains of someone’s possessions piled in a street corner.  Being Paris, this might be mistaken as a Modern Art exhibit.  In fact if someone staged a “fake opening” with well-dressed people holding champagne glasses, at least someone would ask, “Who is the ARTIST?”.

A bizarre “street art” mural on rue de Seine of Sid Vicious, likely inspired by Banksy

Michel Thieme Tribal Art- Amsterdam.  This was the first year Michel was exhibiting at the Parcours.  I appreciated a number of pieces he had.  This New Guinea Lake Sentani Bark Cloth was apparently collected by Jacques Viot with other noted examples in 1929.

(Michel Thieme) The age and surface of this 19th c. Korwar figure struck me.  Look at the relief-carved snake on the headdress!

(Michel Thieme)  New Guinea Papuan Gulf Elema Gope Board

(Michel Thieme)  Checkout this outstanding Asmat drum.  The handle lyrically blending a human and Praying Mantis.

Detail of above

Rue Visconti is laden with galleries but is barely wide enough for a smart car to pass through.  So this small group of people are actually blocking the street.

Voyageurs & Curieux (Jean-Edouard Carlier) had an exposition on the art of the Bismarck Archipelago encompassing New Britain and New Ireland.   He had some exciting material including a New Ireland Overmodeled skull but his gallery was crowded most of the time and didn’t lend itself for photography.

Joacquin Pecci had an exposition on “Scarifications” which included this Nigerian Koro cup

Gallery of Frederic Rond- “Indian Heritage” on rue Mazarine with carefully selected Himalayan Art

(Frederic Rond)  A trio of Shamanic masks from Himachal Pradesh, East of Bhutan. 

 rue Jacuqes Callot has seen better days

rue Jacuqes Callot

Alcazar restaurant overhead view during a killer party hosted by the Parcours organization

this live band was from Zimbabwe if memory serves me…

Pierre Moos saying a few words

Strike up the band!

(Alcazar bathroom)  You know you’re in a classy place when the urinals have custom angled stone drip pans.  You won’t see these in a McDonald’s Bathroom in the States.

(Gallery SL)  A Spoon Exposition presented by Serge Le Guennan

 “Des Cuilleres et des Hommes”

According to Serge, this exhibit was years in the making.  Broad in scope, it included spoons from many tribal groups but also folk art, European and sailor-made examples.   Without his published catalog, for the sake of accuracy I’ve left the photos uncaptioned.  The exhibit was impressive and handsome but was dimly lit and often crowded making photography more difficult.

 Opening day crowd

The origin of this decadent spoon was unknown but amazing in its execution.

End Spoon Exhibit

Renaud Vanuxeum’s exposition on “Miniatures”


A Chamba figure and a Korwar charm (right)

A standing Congo figure and an stone-carved New Guinea Sepik amulet figure

This was a curious little piece.  I had a hunch it could be from the Humbolt Bay on the North West Coast of New Guinea.  However, Renaud said that after researching the wood and it is apparently from N. America’s the Northwest Coast.


I was struck by just how TINY this little Teke figure was on the left!  Many collectors, including the great Saul Stanoff, loved small pieces for obvious reasons including how the artist had to be very exacting and couldn’t make a “mistake”.    (Right)  A Songye fetish with a great surface.

    Galerie Meyer

Exposition: “Walkabout, L’Art Ancien des Aborigenes D’Australie”

The genius of Anthony Meyer… What could be better than a Kangaroo in your window holding a throwing club to draw people in.  I loved it since you instantly knew what his exhibit was about.

Parcours catalog submission photo

Meyer’s exhibit had people talking and got much attention.  One collector I spoke to said you would need a “shoehorn” to squeeze another piece into this gallery.   Yeah maybe, but I appreciated the impact and diversity of the exhibit and I’m unaware of where you would have to go to see that much Aboriginal material displayed in one location let alone a private gallery.

Group of Tiwi “mourning rings”  Northern territory Bathurst/ Melville Island

While I didn’t have a full shot, the two longest scared churingas were floor-to-ceiling in height.

Woomeras, clubs and spears but the Kangaroo kicked me just when I was taking the photo

Galerie Meyer cont.

A great showcase displaying other gems

(Galerie Meyer cont.) with a secondary exhibit in the back of Eskimo ivories and artifacts

A growing trend?  On rue de Seine upscale clothing shops have begun to replace art galleries

“Cosi” on rue de Seine– Dynamite Salads and Sandwiches and cute female staff

I saw this “far out” animal hide (Pangolin?) armored warriors helmet at Galerie Sigu (Jean-Francois Blondau) which was apparently from Sudan.

Galerie Serge Schoffel with a Marquesas Island arm sculpture

(Galerie Dodier)  I look in to see what the crowd was standing around for and found this impressive large scale Yoruba Bowl bearer maternity figure.  It was proudly and courageously displayed all by itself on the main floor demanding a viewer’s full attention. 

A piece speaking loudly all by itself

(Chris Boylan) an expressive New Guinea Eastern Highlands mask with inset teeth.

(Ben Hunter) A powerful New Guinea squatting figure

 (Dalton Somare’) Tomasto Vigorelli putting on a new face and creating a photo op.

 (Dalton Somare’)  A Yoruba Divination Bowl.  Good composition with inset ebony eyes.

 (Dalton Somare’)  a Senufo kpelie mask

  (Galerie Gregory Chesne)  He also had an exposition on miniatures where I noticed this Congo Fetish

(Gregory Chesne) Small Songye fetish

(Gregory Chesne) A pair of Marquesas Island Stiltsteps

(Galerie Ratton) A large Songye fetish

(Galerie Ratton) A New Ireland Malagan figure and a New Caledonian Kanak roof spire

(Galerie Ratton)  A North Coast New Guinea Vokeo Island mask and a Yombe maternity figure

(Galerie Ratton)  A dramatic New Ireland overmodeled skull.  I’ve always wanted one so if you have one at home let me know 🙂

(Text and photos by Michael Auliso)