Friday, February 15, 2008

Primitive Art at the Louvre

I finally found my way to the primitive art collection at the Louvre, housing works from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. It's a bit hard to get to (use the Porte des Lions) but well worth a visit. I thought it far more interesting than all those Spanish and Italian paintings I hustled past to get to the gallery.

When I first saw this piece I thought it was new. I've seen welded pieces by Picasso that looked similar. But nope, this was made in Benin in 1858.


A sculpture from Nigeria. XVIIIe siecle. Heck, Roman numerals. 18th century is my guess.

Indonesian statuary from the same time frame.

A huge totem from Taiwan - this was something like 10 feet tall. It's made out of wood, but looks coppery.


A Pakistani sculpture from approximately the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th.

I love the tool marks on the head and the cracking of the wood.

This one is actually in my guidebook. This tall male figure is from the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific and was made in the early 19th centure. The blue paint was made by mixing lime, burnt coral, and "dolly" blue. Dolly blue? I don't know what that is, but the patina is extraordinary.



This is a figure of a god from Hawaii made in the 18th century from wicker, mother-of-pearl, and dogs' teeth amongst other things.


Best for last. I turned a corner and was completely blown away by this head from Easter Island. Oh my, it is glorious. And large.



Sorry I didn't think to get a photo that would give you a sense of scale. I'll do that on another visit, which I will definitely have to do.

22 comments:

kimberlym said...

You're so lucky to be able to go to the Louvre so often! Thanks for taking the pics to share with us-the Easter Island statues (and the history) are so fascinating

de vliegende koe said...

Unbelievable beautiful pieces of the Easter Island art and culture. You can see that lots of artists were inspired making their more modern stuff! Thanks for sharing a piece of Paris threasures again!

zizzybob said...

I'll probably never make it to Paris, heck I'll probably never make it outside the US. So thank you for all the tourist photos, I really appreciate them.

anne bebbington said...

Tonya - you took me right back to my childhood and beyond - Dolly Blue was a small solid 'cake/block' of deep/bright blue compressed powder which housewives used, by I presume scraping small quantities of it into the boiling water they'd use in a washing tub, to brighten up their yellowing white linen before the sheets and tablecloths etc were put through a mangle to extract as much water as possible prior to hanging the washing out on a line - it was probably used in the UK (and obviously elsewhere) in Victorian times and on into the first half of the 20th Century before the advent of mechanised washing machines. The reason it reminds me of my childhood is I can remember seeing it for sale in the small village grocer's shop in the northern village where I lived and having it's purpose explained to me by my mother - obviously in the 1960's some of his elderly clientele were still buying it

Clare said...

Interesting about the blue paint. We've got the same in our porch and you can see it on a lot of old French houses. Apparently it was to ward off evil spirits. Mind you Bordeaux Mixture, which is a fungicide for fruit trees and veg, is the same blue. The God from Hawaii looks like something out of The Muppets.

Awesome Easter Island head.

Quiltdivajulie said...

Fabulous!

Thanks for sharing!!!

(my favorite is the Hawaiian god ~ gotta love those teeth, and the eyes.... OH MY)

Annemiek said...

Dolly blue was used in the Netherlands too!My mum had little cubes wrapped in white paper and here too they were used to brighten up the laundry. You can still buy them here as a powder.
Saw an Easter island head at the British Museum last year and like you, I was very impressed! Great pics!!

McIrish Annie said...

Love, love, love the primitive art! I have a friend that constructs sculptures like the Benin from bits and pieces he
"finds" (he's a dumpster diver and not afraid to say so!). He has made a few for me that grace my yard. Thanks for sharing!

Laura said...

Wow, thanks for sharing. These were awesome. Lucky you seeing them in person.

Sue in western Washington, USA said...

Primitive art - my favorite :- )
Awesome! I especially like the Hawaiian head and the faces carved on the shoulders of the Taiwan totem.

Gypsy Quilter said...

Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

Tracey @ozcountryquiltingmum said...

Hi Ton,
Kids are back at School and I am busy catching up.
Enjoyed your virtual tour..as ausual. I love the need in many of us to allow the creativity to escape somehow, as it must have been for these villagers 100's of years ago.
Am I too late for Bonnie's housewarming, because I would happily contribute...she does such a fabulous job in all areas.
The Valentine's quilt looks great, you are right, we learn so much from making them...it is all about the journey, Tracey

Dawn said...

Oh how fun to see all these pieces. I think the one that made me laugh the most is the one from Hawaii - that one is something else! Looks like one of yours and Laura's aliens!

jovaliquilts said...

Wow, great to look at, thanks! I wonder if there's anyone who doesn't get a visceral response to primitive art? It's awesome, quite literally! I love it, love it.

Olga said...

Getting through the Louvre is like going on an expedition! I love your photos, and I too was reminded of my early years when you mentioned dolly blue. I found these two explanations of the tools and descriptions of wash day in the 'dark' ages!
http://a-day-in-the-life.powys.org.uk/eng/home/eo_wash.php

http://www.oldandinteresting.com/laundry-blue.aspx

How easy we have it these days, leaving us time to explore museums etc.

YankeeQuilter said...

Just too much funnn! Love the Easter Island head. Did you see Midnight at the Museum? I believe there are a few of those Heads in the movie!

Sio

KathieB said...

IMHO "primitive" is a relative term. These pieces are so stirring, evocative, and emotional. That's ART, pure and simple.

cher said...

fantastic photos - gorgeous art...thanks so much for all the photos and tracking down this part of the Louvre!

Cascade Lily said...

That Hawaiian god's head gave me a bit of a start as I scrolled down. If you ever get posted to Aus, you'd love some of the indigenous art here too.

LauraJ said...

If you saw the movie, Night at the Museum, you'll understand why I had to laugh at the Easter Island head... I was expecting him to say gimmee some gum gum dumb dumb. Watch the movie! :D Happy Quilting!

Melinda said...

Tonya, I'm jealous. You look like you are having so much fun. If you ever get to go to the Garnier Opera House, I would love some pictures, if you have the time.

Hugs,
Melinda

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