Having come from the African continent, this sculptural artwork is imbued with different symbolic meanings and serves various purposes. Around 100 items on display showcase a whole array of forms, commitment to tradition and ideological potential of these ritual objects. Today, now that the masks have nearly become the epitome of modern times, many facets of this art of African sculpture can be interpreted anew. The exhibition is organised in partnership with the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera) and features pieces from a private collection.
Already consigned to the sale is a variety of ancient glass from the Dr Peter and Traudi Plesch Collection, African and Oceanic Art from the collection of the art photographer, Werner Forman and the Inuit collection of Graham Turner. All adding to the wide variety of objects available in our pre Christmas sale.
Since the 14th century the Baga have been living along the coast in Guinea Conakry on the western tip of Africa. They were subjected to repeated attacks by the peoples of the region, at the end of the 19th century by the French, and in 1958 power was transferred to a Muslim-Marxist leadership. The new government forbade religious ceremonies, and ritual art was systematically destroyed; Many Baga members converted to Islam but secretly kept their traditional animistic customs as well as works used in ceremonies. In 1984, rigid discipline loosened and residents, most of them Muslims, were allowed to observe their tradition, as part of "folklore," as opposed to "religion." Collector Michael Weiss has spent about a decade searching for and collecting traditional ritual objects. Works from his collection are displayed alongside sculptures and baguette masks from the museum's collection and the exhibition unfolds the story of the collection, the encounter and the collaboration with the locals.
This year, the Summer Exhibition will be coordinated by renowned artist Yinka Shonibare RA. The exhibition will explore the theme of ‘Reclaiming Magic’ and celebrate the joy of creating art. Yinka Shonibare will be working with a committee of Royal Academicians, chaired by the President of the Royal Academy, Rebecca Salter. The members of the 2021 Summer Exhibition committee will be: Tony Bevan, Vanessa Jackson, Mali Morris, Humphrey Ocean, Eva Rothschild, Bob and Roberta Smith, Emma Stibbon and David Adjaye.