Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie, les fleurons de la collection Barbier-Mueller
Ouvrage collectf, catalogue d'exposition
There is no doubt the Barbier-Mueller collection is one of the most sumptuous in the field of «primitive» art and that its animators, Jean-Paul and his wife Monique, are the most colorful, very different from the mandatory reserve of most museum curators. The idea was good to ask experts of all horizons to comment the most beautiful pieces from the collection. The big volume that is the result gives a rich idea of those far-away forms of art, of the idols with nails on their shields, masks on the bow of their dug out canoes, including the handles of the fly swaters and the statues with pestle legs. In this time when there is so much discussion on the Unidroit Convention or on the doubtful purchases of certain great museums, we would have loved to know more about the origins of the collection. The information given in the annex remains very fragmented («bought towards 1950», «collected in the middle of the 1930s») and are more related to the fund of Josef Mueller, Monique’s father, who instilled the collector’s spirit in his daughter in 1907 with a lovely portrait of Cuno Amiet. The book accompanies an exhibition at the Barbier-Mueller museum in Geneva but we will always remember that the generosity of its owners allowed for many public museums to boast of exceptional pieces – in particular the one of quai Branly, where the visitor can search for a pomo basket or an anthropomorphic sculpture in walrus ivory.
• Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie, les fleurons de la collection Barbier-Muelle, Hazan publishing house, 2007, 432 p., ISBN : 978-2-7541-0190-5, 49 €
Review published in the newsletter #49 - from 31 May 2007 to 6 June 2007