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Masterpieces of African Art from the Collection of the Late Werner Muensterberger

Sotheby's
New York


10 AM, May 11, 2012

Sale 8924


Muensterberger head

Lot 62, Luluwa Helmet Mask," Democratic Republic of the Congo, 13 3/4 inches high



By Carter B. Horsley

Werner Muensterberger (1913-2011) was a psychoanalyst, art collector and author of several books and the catalogue for this auction has an essay on him by Richard Feigen who described him as "an elegant, faschinating man of the old school."

"I came to trust his insights, his experience, his judgement.  Although I know nothing about African art, even I sensed the quality of the objects in his sitting room," Mr. Feigen wrote.

"During a long life that spanned nearly a century, he crossed the pathers of the likes of Pablo Picasso, Sigmund Freud, Walt Disney, Louise Bourgeois, Nelson Rockefeller, Constantine Brancusi..., Albert Einstein, Charles Ratton....Legendary actors such as Danny Kaye, Laurence Olivier, James Dean and Marlon Brando lay on the couch of his New York psychoanalytic practice."

His father manufactured women's hats in Hoerde, near Dortmund, Germany and he got his first introduction to African art through a distant relative of his mother, Eduard Freiherr von der Heydt, who gave his major collection to Zurich where it forms the core of the Reitberg Museum and his modern paintings were given in 1952 to the City Museum Wuppertal, which is today called the Von der Hyedt-Museum.

Over the yearsm Muensterberger parted with some of his prized works. One wss a Benin ivory statue of Opa that he had acquired in 1947 form the Sodney Brney Gallery and substenqetly sold to Julius Carlebacvh he later sold it to Nelson Rockefeller who donated it in1978 to the Metrpolitan Museum ofArt.

Another ws a Senufo Female Figure that was considered very important and an icon of "universal art."  It acquired in in 1958 from Emil Storrer who had collected it in situ.  Muensterberg later sold to to William Rubin,who consigned it to Sotheby's in 1991 where it became the first African artwork to sell in excess of $1 million.

In 1959, he acqured the Luluwa Mask, Lot 62, from Merton D. Simpgon in New York.  It is illustrated at the top of this article and is the cover illustration for the auction's catalogue that states that it stands as an icon of Central African Art.

According to the catalogue, it can only be compared to the famous Luba helmet mask with curved horns in the Museum Royal de 'Afrique Centrale, ":Merging stylistic influences from various neighboring peoples, it is a keystone for the understsanding of Central African sculpture. "With its highly refined naturalism, tits harmonious proportions, and its symmetrical scarificaton patterns, the Meunsterberg mask is the quintessential embodiment of the Luluwas concept of beauty."

The head has a flat, thin metal "hat" near some worn down braids.

It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to$2,500,000.  It sold for $2,546,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.


Stone head

Lot 61, Sapi (proto-temne) stone head, Sierra Leone, 7 1/2 inches high

Lot 61 is a Sapi (proto-temne) stone head from Sierra Leone that is 7 1/2 inches high and was acquired from Merton D.Simpson in New York in 1973.

It has an estimateof $250,000 to $350,000.  It sold for $242,500.



eroded woman

Lot 60, Female Funerary Figure, Vezo, Madagascar, 20 inches high.

Lot 29 is an eroded by impressive female funerary figure from Vezo, Madagascar.  It is wood and 20 inches high.   It has an estimate of $12,000 to $18,000.  It sold for $20,000.


Black pot

Lot 64, "Anthropomorhic sculpture, by Magdalene Odundo, 16 7/8 inches high

Lot 64 is a stunning. modern abstract sculpture of a broad, curved container with an angled and flaring neck opening.  It is by Magdlane Oduncdo (b. 1950 in Nairobi).  Her ceramics, the catalogue states, "are hand built, using a coiling technique that does not use the wheel and the surfaces are not glazed but burnished.  The artist is represented in many museums.  The lot has an esitmate of $40,000 to $60,000.  It sold for $134,500.

The auction has only 7 lots.

See The City Review article on the Spring 2012 African Art auction at Sotheby's New York

See The City Review article on the Spring 2012 African Art Auction at Christie's New York

See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 auction of African and Oceanic Art from the Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian art auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbia art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on Spring 2008 African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on Spring 2007 African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Saul and Marsha Stanoff Collection of African, Oceanic, Pre-Columbian and Indian Art auction at Sotheby's May 17, 2007

See The City Review Article on the William Brill Collection of African Art at Sotheby's November 17, 2006

See The City Review article on the Fall 2006 African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2005 African & Oceanic art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2005 African & Oceanic Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2004 African & Oceanic Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2004 African & Oceanic Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2003 Tribal Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2003 Tribal Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 Tribal Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Tribal Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2001 African & Oceanic Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2000 African and Oceanic Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 1999 African and Oceanic Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 1999 African and Oceanic Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 1998 Sotheby's African and Oceanic Art auction

See The City Review article on the Spring 1998 Sotheby's African and Oceanic Art auction


 



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