Tribal Art Trail in Full Swing

A 2017 Fair Review

With Lyon & Turnbull holding a sale of African & Oceanic Art on 22 March 2018 of next year, specialist Alexander Tweedy reviews the recent specialist fairs Parcours des Mondes and Tribal Art London.

Parcours des Mondes

One of the world’s leading tribal art fairs, the Paris Parcours des Mondes began its six-day run on September 12th. Collectors toured the 60 participating dealers who had set up in galleries amongst the cobbled streets of Saint Germain des Près.

One of the great strengths of Parcours des Mondes is that exhibitors are forced to use the often limited gallery space to produce highly focused shows of the highest quality. Stand outs this year included Galerie Flak, which shone a light on the cultures celebrated by the Surrealists; Malagan effigies, Kachina dolls and Sepik ancestor figures were presented alongside a remarkable collection of Alaskan Inuit shamanic sculptures.


Malagan figure

Malagan figure
Image © Galerie Flak | Danielle Voirin



Another highlight was an exceptional, sensitively carved Luba bowl, priced at €600,000 and presented by Galerie Monbrison. Bowls such as this were used by diviners when contacting the spirit world. The female figure shown holding the bowl was intended to honour the deceased wife of the possessing spirit. The diviners own wives also played a crucial role as intermediaries in the invocation process. In this way, the carved figure symbolises importance of Luba women as spirit containers in both life and art.


Luba bowl

Luba bowl
Image © Galerie Monbrison | Vincent Girier Dufournier



Tribal Art London

Parcours des Mondes followed the highly successful 10th iteration of Tribal Art London, which welcomed prominent collectors including Sir David Attenborough through its doors from 5th – 9th of September. Organised by London based Bryan Reeves and held at the Mall Galleries, the fair hosted dealers from all over the world, including Mark Eglington of New York, who presented a Dogon figure which had previously been owned by the prominent American abstract expressionist painter and African art collector Merton Simpson.


Dogon Figure Image copyright Mark Eglington
Dogon Figure
Image © Mark Eglington


Exhibitors commented there was an upsurge of new collectors, younger buyers and those crossing over from the contemporary sphere for the first time. With a diverse range of works for sale from the low hundreds to over £20,000 there was certainly something on offer for first time buyers through to established collectors. As TAL goes from strength to strength, it underlines the continued growth of the UK as a market for tribal art.


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