National Museum of African Art Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Not on view
Having provided funds for the opening of the Modern Gallery in 1915, Eugene and Agnes Meyer acquired at least four African works from this source between 1916 and 1918. This carved Senufo door from northern Côte d’Ivoire, imported through Paul Guillaume in Paris about 1916, was among them and is on view in the exhibition. An important sign of wealth and social status, such doors traditionally were adorned with low-relief designs that often referred to divination and sources of power. Divided into three horizontal sections, this example presents imagery of aggression: crocodiles, snakes, human warriors, and shackles, all references to the dangers the Senufo faced from foreign assailants. A carved motif in the shape of a lock imitates the type of functional locks commonly placed on such doors.
Paul Guillaume, Paris, before 1916; Marius de Zayas, New York, 1916; Agnes and Eugene Meyer, New York, ca. 1916–72