The Covid-19 crisis has had an impact on the art market worldwide but now the show must go on.
Pierre Moos, Parcours des Mondes director, explained in his introduction to the event that, “after much careful deliberation and having examined the possibilities for online presentation, the organisers of Parcours came to the conclusion that we did not want to interrupt the 19-year tradition in the galleries lining the streets of Saint-Germain-des-Prés that has given so many of us so much pleasure”.
The decision to proceed will be welcome news to the 44 dealers who are taking part in this 19th staging.
Many of the participants are residents with specialist galleries in this quarter of the city which is packed with art and antiques galleries.
Others have taken space in the area for the duration of the Parcours which runs from September 8-13.
Around two-thirds of the exhibitors come from France, the remainder from other European countries.
Alongside the 36 tribal dealers who make up the bulk of the exhibitor roll-call are a further four dealers specialising in Antiquities; three in Asian art and one bookseller.
For those who visit, this event is, as its title suggests, a tour around the world in terms of artefacts from different cultures in Africa, North America, Oceania and the East.
Some exhibitors are presenting shows based around a specific geographic, linguistic or cultural region, others have a selection based on object type or by a particular theme.
Pictured in this section is a small taste of what will be on offer at this year’s Parcours.
Ancestor spirits look down from the rooftop
Franck Marcelin, who has a gallery in Aix en Provence, will be exhibiting his selection of Oceanic and Eskimo art at the Galerie Alexandre Guillemain on the rue Guénégaud during the Parcours des Mondes.
Among the pieces he is showing will be this central portion of a carved roof spire from the Kanak peoples of New Caledonia. These wooden spires were placed on Kanak huts and were made to be seen from the front only (the backs of the huts being sacred and forbidden) and evoke the face of the ancestor spirits.
Made from Houp tree wood (Montrouziera cauliflora) and measuring just over 17in (43cm) in height, this example has a provenance to an American collection.
It is priced at under €20,000.
Bronze weights available to buy
One of the Parcours’ partners for this year’s event is the nearby Monnaie de Paris museum. On September 8, the same day that the Parcours opens, the museum is inaugurating its exhibition Akan les Valeurs de l’échange, devoted to its collection of Akan weights used primarily for weighing gold dust.
But as well as admiring the pieces in the museum’s own collection (which are not for sale), Parcours visitors can go to the themed exhibition at the Galerie Vallois 41 on the rue de Seine where they have the opportunity to buy some of these objects. Vallois has nearly 200 bronze weights from the Akan peoples of West Africa in the form of figures and other objects that will be priced between €500-1500.
They come from the collection of Paolo Morigi, a Swiss ethologist and ethnographer who was particularly interested in African art and made many visits to west Africa, particularly Liberia and Ivory Coast, researching and taking photographs. The weights, which were cast using the lost wax technique, illustrate elements or scenes from everyday life.
Pictured above is one of the examples from the Vallois show: a 9 x 6in (23 x 15cm) Ashanti bronze Kuduo or box for weighing gold, a late 19th-early 20th century royal object.
Dan exhibition 10 years in the making
The Galerie Charles-Wesley Hourdé on the rue de Seine is putting on a themed exhibition devoted to the art of the Dan culture of Africa during Parcours des Mondes.
More than 10 years in the making, this will feature a selection of 36 objects: masks, statues and ornaments and everyday utilitarian items, in order to present a panorama of the artistic products of these Ivory Coast peoples. The display will be accompanied by a catalogue containing a study by Bertrand Goy (an Ivory Coast specialist).
There is a broad price range, from €1000 to over €100,000. One of the highlights of the exhibition is this rare 9in (23cm) high 19th century Dan mask in what Hourdé describes as “a particularly archaic style”. It has never been seen on the market and will be priced at over €100,000.
Cup from the Congo
The Galerie Didier Claes from Brussels specialises in the arts from sub-Saharan Africa and will be exhibiting this year at the Parcours, based in the Galerie Xavier Eeckhout on the rue Jacques Callot.
One of the pieces the gallery is taking this year will be this 6in (15cm) high carved wooden figural cup from the Democratic Republic of Congo. It has a provenance to Jeanne Walschot, Brussels, and Jacques et Denise Schwob, Brussels, and is priced at €8000.
Huge Tongan club delivers a hefty blow
Anthony Meyer, whose Galerie Meyer Oceanic & Eskimo Art is based on the rue des Beaux Arts, will be showing a selection of recent acquisitions at the 19th edition of the Parcours.
These will include a Fijian bone sail needle from the Rabe collection, c.1880, a rare 18th-19th century eskimo toggle or drag handle carved from walrus ivory as a swimming seal and this club or culacula from Tonga.
The culacula, a prestige weapon associated with high-ranking chiefs and war-priests, was used to deliver a blow with the sharp thin edge of the blade.
This large and massive unadorned example is made from ironwood, measures 3ft 8in (1.13m) in length and is dated to the 18th-19th century. It retains its original sennit (coconut fibre) attachment and is structurally intact other than minor chips off the edge, possibly due to battle damage.
Acquired by a family of collectors in the vicinity of Saint Jean de Luz in the 1930-50s, it is priced €16,000.
Pulleys loom large
Laurent Dodier from Avranches is a regular exhibitor at the Parcours des Mondes and will be staging his show at the Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès on the rue de Seine.
For this year’s staging he has chosen to present a themed exhibition devoted to weaving loom heddle pulleys from the Ivory Coast accompanied by a catalogue. Around 50 examples of these decoratively carved functional objects will be on offer priced in the range of €1000-8000, amounting to a selection, says Dodier, “that any collector seasoned or beginner can afford”.
Pictured above is one of them, an 8in (20.5cm) pulley from the 20th century with a lustrous old black patina, reddish brown at the corners, showing extensive use, with a provenance to a French private collection.