It would only seem natural that a culture so rich in history and so adoring of beauty would forge a timeless love affair with primitive art.
African art is not found in the occasional gallery in Paris, it is found in most of the galleries in Paris. In the heart of the city in the neighborhood of Saint Germain des pres, primitive art galleries line the cobblestone streets like colorful dominoes, each window an edited sampling of the sculpture or masks found within.
A tiny and fairly recent artifact might be in the price range of several thousand euros – a more rare piece will easily reach six figures. But collectors are less concerned with the cost of African art than the value.
As civilization marches onward, magic talismans from primitive peoples grow fewer and further between. It is one thing to purchase art because it is appealing or attractive. It is another thing altogether to acquire a piece while appreciating that its creator believed it possessed life-changing power.
The concept that a savage could render a piece utterly simple in form yet layered with meaning and nuance attracts and obsesses the French. They collect the pieces with zeal – objects of beauty imprinted with history.
This city has an ever-present focus on that which is austere and that which is authentic. Primitives do indeed hold a very special place in the heart of Paris.