Authentic African art to be auctioned

The Citizen:


Nearly R4.5 million worth of precious traditional African art will go on auction at Stephan Welz & Co. in Cape Town on February 26.

The 312 lots to be sold are from the substantial personal collection of retired African art dealer Colin Sayers, who closed his central Cape Town gallery, The Collector, in 2012. The collection represent artisanal work from South Africa to Morocco.

Curious. A Luba Shankadi Mboko Figure, Democratic Rep of Congo, Circa 1930. Picture. Supplied.

What gives these art pieces their value, and differentiates them from curios?

“Curios are just that: they are ‘curiosities’ made specifically as souvenirs,” says Anton Welz, Director of Stephan Welz & Co. “The majority of the artworks in this auction were collected directly from the local tribes, whether here in sub-Saharan Africa, or from less accessible countries like the DRC or Angola. They are functional items that were used in everyday life and celebrations, making them artistic reflections of African cultural heritage.”

According to Karel Nel, associate professor at the Wits School of Arts: “The objects that are [to be auctioned include] an inventory of Sotho and Xhosa pipes; magnificent Tsonga-Shangaan status staffs; compact Chokwe, Songo and Ovimbundu stools and a Chokwe throne; as well as streamlined Lodzi vessels, distinctive Tutsi, Kuba and Zulu baskets, and a wonderful array of small and large pieces from the Angolan/Congo border.”

Nel, an internationally recognised collector and specialist on African art, will give his insights into the Traditional African Art from the Colin Sayers Collection on February 23 at 10.30am at Stephan Welz & Co. in Constantia. Anyone is welcome to attend the free walkabout.

“New York is increasingly becoming the centre of tribal art, so much so that this auction will be held in the afternoon and evening, timed so that American buyers can easily participate, either via telephone or live online bidding,” says Welz. “In the auction house’s October 2013 sale, 40% of tribal art sold went to US buyers. Prices for African tribal art are on the incline. For example, in 2013, a Kongo-Yombe nail power figure from the DRC valued at $400 000 – $600 000 was sold at a Sotheby’s New York auction for over $1.8 million (R19.8 million).”


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