Older readers of your magazine will recall when important tribal works were banished to dusty corners of museums under such headings as ‘ethnographic specimens’. We have come a long way since then.
In Paris, for example, collector/dealer Jacques Kerchache, with the support of Jacques Chirac, president at the time, succeeded in his campaign to have ‘primitive’ art admitted to the Louvre.
I believe that several factors have brought about this change in attitude. First is the sheer quality of the best tribal works, such as the Urama Island spirit board featured in ATG No 2307. Then there is the major influence these works had on such artists as Vlaminck, Derain, Picasso and Matisse. There is another dimension, often forgotten.
These masks and figures, produced by anonymous artists, speak to us of unfamiliar worlds – in David Attenborough’s phrase, of “the many different ways of being human”.
Full marks to ATG for giving tribal art the recognition it deserves.