Paris -  The Kahane Collection of African Art is a revelation. Six masterpieces demonstrate Isidor Kahane’s keen eye and astute intuition for works of art of exceptional quality, regardless of category. Acquired over 50 years ago over the course of thirteen years, these works have lived together, quietly, in tranquil existence overlooking a glorious Swiss lake and its surrounding mountains.

Isidor Kahane’s first career was in Zurich, Switzerland, working as an haute-couture textile producer for Gustav Zumsteg’s company, Abraham. A renowned art collector, Zumsteg encouraged Kahane to look at art to develop his own design sensibility. Curious and earnest, Kahane did just that and grew to love art such that mid-career he shifted to become a dealer in Indian and Southeast Asian art. Eventually, he became a legendary figure in this field placing iconic works of art into important institution and private collections, such as the Cleveland Museum of Art and the John D. Rockefeller, III collections.

The Kahane Baga shoulder mask is refined of line and exhibits an amazingly deft sense of balance. It is an iconic form, closely related to another in Picasso’s collection, which inspired images of his mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter. The Baga artist of the Kahane mask has created a true masterpiece that transcends categorization. This work is the cornerstone of the collection, as it fits not only artistically within the corpus of great African works of art, but also because it tells the narrative of the Kahane collection in total. It was the first masterpiece acquired by Isidor Kahane, who would continue throughout his career to maintain an exceptional level of quality in all the works of art that passed through his hands.

The Fang Male Reliquary Guardian figure in this collection is one of the most important examples to come to auction. This figure was once part of the celebrated André Lefevre collection in Paris. It displays a harmony of geometric forms distinct to this figure and unique among any related figures to come to auction in recent years.

The Kahane Baule mask is an incredible discovery. Less than five masks of this type of so-called ‘moon’ masks exist. Each is characterized by the small, round shape and precise linear treatment of the features. The Kahane mask adds to our knowledge of this uncommon corpus as, until now, none are known to have the metal overlay which caresses the delicate features of the present example.

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