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Sculptural Element from a Reliquary Ensemble: Head

Fang peoples, Betsi group

Not on view

In the fall of 1918, while in France in search of new material, De Zayas met Charles Vignier, who would become his main art supplier for the next two years. These two Fang reliquary elements were among the first works he sent to America; the Arensbergs purchased this figure as well as a free-standing head in May 1919. Whereas before 1918 the maximum price ever paid in New York for an African work was $200, the Arensbergs acquired the figure for $1,000 and the head for $3,500, an indication of the comparatively high prices charged by Vignier. It is possible that their reproduction in Carl Einstein’s 1915 Negerplastik, the most famous publication to date on African objects as art, drove the prices higher.

Sculptural Element from a Reliquary Ensemble: Head, Wood, Fang peoples, Betsi group

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