Parcours des Mondes––the largest African, Asian and Oceanic art show in the world––takes place in Paris, France, every September. Since African art is an Archeo specialty, we stopped by this year en route to a buying trip in India (more on that trip in a future Field Notes!)
The show takes place in St. Germain des Prés, a neighborhood where Monet, Renoir and Picasso lived as struggling artists, and today home to tony galleries, boutiques and cafés. Participating venues (some existent, some pop-ups) were clearly marked with orange banners, and it was easy to wander the few square blocks the show encompassed.
The level of quality is hard to overstate, and we were mesmerized. Many pieces boasted a museum provenance, while others had emerged from elite collections worldwide.
We enjoyed gazing on the finest examples of artifacts familiar from the past and present at Archeo––including Dogon, Kifwebe, Dan, and Bamileke masks––as well as pieces from New Guinea, Siberia and Alaska that were less familiar, but embodied a power and soul we recognized well. The show deepened our appreciation for the art, and being close enough to see the marks of hand tools, the gleaming patina from use, and exquisite details like bone inlay.
Overhearing one seller describe how the sculptor Henry Moore drew influence from the Songye people of the DRC, and another point out the bold, geometric owl eyes on an Igbo mask, we felt right in our element of ancient art for modern living.