|Type of Object||Mask|
|Country of Origin||Liberia|
|Approximate Age||20th century|
|Overall Condition||Good. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners. Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use. We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings. Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.|
Additional Information: The Grebo live in southeast Liberia at the border with the Ivory Coast, with the Bassa people on their west and the Bete and We to their east in the Ivory Coast. Grebo masks are best known for their influence on early western modern art being found in the collection of Picasso who obtained a Grebo mask from his dealer Kahnweiler in Paris. There is no doubt as to the influence of the Grebo style mask upon the development of western art for they are a complete example of geometry in sculpture with the flat face, a long nose and tubular projectiles. The startling geometry of this mask with the double lines of 6 tube tubes each, flanking the strong profile of the nose and protruding lips is indeed a tour-De-force of sculpture.
Little is known about the use of masks among the Grebo other than the fact that they are said to have been worn during wars by leaders as a kind of military costume. The masks were worn by the leaders of a warrior’s age set lead and terrify the enemy. Though not worn for warfare today they are worn at the funeral ceremonies of elders. This mask was worn on the face as seen in the eyeholes drilled on either side of the nose. In the past other larger Grebo masks were worn on the top of the head as a kind of helmet. This mask is indeed a great sculpture straddling the world of traditional African sculpture and modern art.
see: G.W. Harley, "Masks as Agents of Social Control in Northeast Liberia (1950) W.C. Siegmann and C.E. Schmidt, "Rock of the Ancestors" (1977).
Jacques Kerchache et al. ART OF AFRICA
From the Collection of Robert Pearson, Denver, Colorado
Bob Pearson began collecting African art later in his life. He was a n engineer, inveterate climber, and long-time collector of books and paintings. Spurred by the Douglas Society at the Denver Museum of Art, and his friendship with noted collector George Heggarty, he began building an enormous, eclectic collection. His African art library grew to several hundred books. He loved textiles and “material culture”-things which had domestic use, like spoons, cups, stools, and chairs, as well as masks and carvings. His collection included items from more than thirty African countries, and his fine eye gave him pieces ranging from a golddust scale to huge Dogon figural ladders. Africa Direct is honored to have been chosen to sell them.