The 17th edition of the Parcours des Mondes, the city’s celebrated tribal art event, runs for six days from September 11-16. Taking place in multiple galleries in this ancient quarter, it attracts exhibitors and visitors from around the world.
The mix of resident and guest dealers show art from Oceania, Africa, the Americas and, since 2015, a selection of Asian artefacts.
In total, 64 dealers take part, half from France, the remainder from other European countries, the US, Canada, Australia and Morocco. It really is a tribal gathering.
African art, a Franco-Belgian legacy, remains to the fore but Oceanic artefacts shown by resident and guest dealers have become more evident.
As the foreword to the Parcours catalogue explains, the idea of such a tribal trail might initially seem like a step into the exotic. But in reality the event considers universal themes and issues, even though the approach may vary from one continent to another.
This is manifest in the various exhibitions that participants put on. The degree of scholarship involved in these displays, accompanied by catalogues, endows them with serious scholarly interest.
But if this all sounds somewhat recherché, that belies the friendly, lively ambience of the Parcours in full swing.
The fact that many of these pieces also have an aesthetic appeal only adds to the attraction and explains why tribal art is such a strong sector of the market.
It certainly attracts the most erudite aficionados, but as a relaxed open event, the Parcours can appeal at all levels and every price point. A selection of highlights is pictured below.
Resident dealer Galerie Flak, of the rue des Beaux Arts, is one of the participants mounting a themed show for the Parcours.
Africubisme will unite African masks and sculptures with paintings by masters of this early 20th century art movement for whom they were a powerful influence.
Works by artists such as Picasso, Fernand Léger and Jacques Lipchitz will be paired with sculptures from cultures like the Senufo, Dan, Dogon and Baga peoples.
The gallery is also showing this piece above from a quite different continent, however. This 12in (30cm) long figural rattle of oystercatcher form was made by the Tlinget people of the North-west Coast (British Columbia). Such rattles are used as percussive instruments in shamanic rituals to call up spirits and animal guides.
It is made from carved wood decorated with pigments and leather and has a distinguished provenance to the collections of Jacques Kerchache (c.1965) and Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan.
The rattle is priced at €50,000.
Paris dealer Bernard Dulon is holding an exhibition in his rue Jacques Callot Gallery devoted to African masks from the Dan peoples of Ivory Coast.
The highlight is a 19th century mask that was in the Parisian collection of René Rasmussen and is considered the apogée of Dan aesthetic.
“The Parcours des Mondes is a top-rate showcase for tribal art,” says Dulon. “It has the biggest concentration in the world of collectors and aficionados for African art and this seems to me to be the time to rediscover a masterpiece that has not been exhibited since 1979.”
Other masks in the exhibition include the 8¾in (22cm) high 19th century wood mask pictured top, with a thick patina and kaolin covering, which has a provenance to the collection of Dr Gosse, France.
It will be priced in the region of €25,000-30,000.
The gallery is also publishing an essay on Dan masks written by the historian Bertrand Goy.
Siberia and beyond
Brussels dealer Martin Doustar is putting on an exhibition at Galerie Loft in the rue des Beaux Arts devoted to artefacts from the Russian Far East.
This features marine ivory sculpture and bronzes used by the indigenous peoples of the coastal regions of the Bering Sea and western Siberia in their shamanic traditions.
Among the pieces on offer will be this 4¼in (10.5cm) high Siberian Venus figure in marine ivory, above, from the Okhotsk region dating from c.500-1500AD.
It will be priced at €45,000.
French dealer Jean-Edouard Carlier has a gallery on the rue Visconti-Voyageurs et Curieux.
For this year’s Parcours he is following up on his exhibition held in June by presenting a collection of objects and new acquisitions from Melanesia, notably sculpture from the Bartle Bay area in Papua New Guinea.
These carvings had a function as protective spirits and were incorporated into buildings.
Pictured above is a 16in (41cm) high carved and pigmented ancestor figure dating from the late 19th or early 20th century. It was collected by lay missionary Robert Jones, who was present in the Massim region from 1924-42 to oversee the construction of the Anglican cathedral in Dogura. It has since been in collections in the UK, Australia and the US.
The asking price is €75,000.
Arms and armour
Making his Parcours debut this year at the Galerie Grillon on the rue de Seine is UK specialist in antique arms and armour Runjeet Singh.
He is the first dealer to bring a show based entirely around arms and armour to the event.
Titled Armes et Armures d’Orient, it will feature objects from India, China, Tibet and south-east Asia ranging in price from £2000-40,000 and is accompanied by a catalogue.
This 19th century katar or scissor dagger from the Punjab is one of the pieces that will be on show in Paris. Runjeet describes it as demonstrating “exemplary craftsmanship — both mechanical and decorative”.