Fifteen woodcarvings sold by Gene van Grecken to Jean Guiart in 1966
In 1963 Jean Guiart published The Arts of the South Pacific, the first survey devoted entirely to the material arts of this region. Three years later he visited Gene van Grecken, a Sydney tribal art dealer and collector, and bought fifteen woodcarvings from him for the National Museum of the Arts of Africa and Oceania in Paris (nmaao) now incorporated into the Musée du Quai Branly.
In 1967 Guiart published nine of these carvings (Ills 1-9 in the present essay) in an article « Art primitif et « structures » and claimed they demonstrate that Sepik artworks have far greater stylistic variability than is generally recognised. In 1969 he republished seven of them (Ills 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, and 9 in this essay) in another article, « The Concept of Norm in the Art of Some Oceanic Societies », and claimed they show that the borders between Sepik style regions are much more fluid than is generally thought.
Between these years, G...