Kopar or Angoram people

Not on view

Artists of the Kopar and Angoram people, who live near the mouth of the Sepik River in northern New Guinea, created distinctive openwork figures which probably portray powerful spirits with long beak-like noses and lithe attenuated bodies. Some sources say that the figures were dance accessories, carried or worn by performers at initiations and other ceremonies. Tied to short lengths of bamboo, which survive on some examples, they were held in the hand as dance wands or, according to one account, affixed to a framework worn on the dancer’s back. The figure on view here once belonged to the Surrealist painter and writer Wolfgang Paalen (1905–1959), who perhaps was drawn to it by its distinctive treatment of the human form. The originality and plasticity with which artists from New Guinea and other parts of the Pacific portrayed the human image was greatly admired by the Surrealists, whose works often incorporate imagery closely inspired by Oceanic art.

Figure, Wood, paint, Kopar or Angoram people

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