Monday, June 18, 2007


WHY COLLECT tribal art (or art of any kind)? We collect art because we enjoy having beautiful and interesting objects in our homes. The discovery and acquisition of art is exciting. Great art invites discussion, introspection, and intellectual stimulation. For many, collecting art is a form of social status and a way to display wealth. Art is patronage when collectors invest in and support artists’ works, loan works to public exhibitions, donate works to museums, and create endowments. Although this is not the most important factor, great art is a good financial investment. And, of course, collecting art is fun.

More specifically tribal art is unique and not mass produced. Objects are handcrafted, usually with natural materials. They are made with purpose, often for devotional or ritual use. They are almost always functional, but often with eye towards beauty and form. The forms come from long cultural traditions, yet artist variation is allowed and encouraged. The objects connect humans to their gods/deities, ancestors, and nature. Objects can be beautifully rendered, expressive, animated, soulful, mysterious, and powerful. Tribal art is tactile and begs for physical interaction. And lastly, tribal art is relatively inexpensive when compared to traditional forms of art.


kocho said...

very good question and answer..

Unknown said...

Another reason to collect tribal art however wide the definition is that this art is formed in societies that relied on mnemonics to remember and record events so that their sculpture and 'art' is 'dense' and shaped in ways that is not possible in other (modern) minds and histories like ours that are informed by the written word and a number system (arithmetic) that is remote and theoretical (not organic).
In addition some tribal art still available today (for a time) is performed by craftsman that practised for a lifetime and carved or formed objects with a facility that today we employ in the writing and reading. Their forming of objects was unconscious in the same way that we read and write AND in Melanesia at least the boundary between the stone age (and stone age technology) and modern techniques and education only occurred in recent generations. Their understanding and world view only changed in the last 100-200 years or so (less than 100 yrs in the highlands). These people have a continuous cultural history spanning more than 50,000 yrs.
References - The Memory code by Lynne Kelly

Excavations at Kosipe PNG confirming circa 49,000 BP? movement and transfer of materials between the coast and highlands of SE Papua recorded by Prof Glen Summerhayes et al.