News-Antique.com - Apr 22,2009 - New York, New York – Sotheby’s spring sale of African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art will be held on May 15, 2009, and will offer collectors a selection of tribal arts from important American and international private collections. The sale will comprise an especially rich offering of Oceanic works of art, several of which are the best of their kind. Works from the sale will be exhibited simultaneously with the single-owner sale of The Sculptor’s Eye: African and Oceanic Art from the Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation beginning May 9.
A MAGNIFICENT STATUE OF IRIWÁKE, GOD OF THUNDER
Amongst the most prominent collectors of art from Papua New Guinea in the twentieth century are Marcia and John Friede from New York. Mr. and Mrs. Friede were pioneers in the field, starting their collection mid-century when the appreciation for the art of New Guinea was just beginning, and have made sharing their collection one of the central missions of their life. Counting more than 3,000 works, the collection they have put together is the greatest assembly of New Guinea art in the world. One of the great masterpieces from the Collection of Marcia and John Friede, the Half-figure of the god IRIWÁKE, from the Papuan Gulf region of Papua New Guinea, is a representation of monumental majesty and magical power (estimate in excess of $1 million). Twodimensional carving from the Papuan Gulf region was popular among 20th century artists, and its influence can be seen in their work, most notably in the work of Jean Dubuffet. The IRIWÁKE figure was previously owned by Loed and Mia van Bussel from Amsterdam, who, like the Friedes, pioneered collecting of New Guinea art and assembled one of the world’s top collections. The figure’s discovery is well-documented; it was collected in 1966 by a German scientist, who later recalled to scholars that while much of the village had been destroyed, the figure had been well preserved, indicating it was still of outstanding cultural value to the inhabitants. Only one other figure of this extremely rare iconography is known to exist. IRIWÁKE, a powerful god of both war and headhunting, was carved with stone tools and dates to the pre-contact period. The god is depicted with large arms outstretched and raised; scholars have suggested that the white bolts that run the length of the figure’s arms represent lightning. The figure also wears a nose-stick and pendant made from the shell of the giant, or “murder,” clam – which can weigh up to 450 pounds. The stone-like shell is a prestigious material, given the size of the animal and the difficulty involved in harvesting and sculpting it. The IRIWÁKE figure from the Friede Collection is one of the major cultural remnants from the Papuan Gulf, one of the central images of an entire culture, and one of the major works of art from Papua New Guinea in the world.
ADDITIONAL OCEANIC ART HIGHLIGHTS
Other featured works from the Friede Collection include a Magnificent Torres Strait Drum from Papua