Design & Decoration S02 ep7 : Bernard Dulon, Dulon African Art, [????]
Interview with Bernard Dulon
African Art . After a master in ethnology at Paris VII university rather than doing fieldwork Bernard Dulon decides to follow his passion for objects, inherited from his father -a great collector; he opens his first gallery in Saint Germain des Prés where the primitive art trade is already blooming when he is only 24. After moving several times for a larger space, he finally settles at his present address, 10 rue Jacques Callot.His ever growing knowledge buttressed by a permanently enriched reference library added to his deep sense of the object rapidly enable him to join the very exclusive club of the great primitive art dealers and to gain their respect and confidence. In 1985 he becomes a member of the Compagnie Nationale des Experts, he is also a member of the Syndicat National des Antiquaires, and in 1988 he is appointed assessor of the Commission de Conciliation et d’Expertise Douanière. He is regularly called in for several prestigious auction sales (Bellier, Berjonneau, Bégué…) and a member of the expertise commission of the main shows but he does not limit his activity to what he would consider a confinement.
Dulon: My father was a collector and since I was very young I wanted really to become a dealer.
My role is to try to make people to discover African art in another way than you knew them. Here
they can touch, they can ask question and they can buy.
Dulon: When you’re involved in primitive art and especially in African art, you can’t do anything
else. I can’t explain why, I cannot, maybe because it’s the beginning of everything because it’s,
you know this is art before the diffusion of writing, I mean before a primary, you know before
books, it’s before books, so there is a part of sacred world, there is a part of magic, and socially it
has to be exactly to tell the same word to a King than to a worker, that’s a complete heart.
Dulon: This is a special collection on the … from Mallee, most of them went out from Africa in
1960 to 1970, at those time American people was the most important buyers for antique in the
world, especially for African art.
Dulon: This one is a very, very cute piece. It is coming from the Carlo Monzino collection that is a
very famous collection and it has been exhibited in New York once upon a time, it was in the
Centre for African Art. It’s talking about fertility, this is a woman so that’s many thing, but maybe
it was the top of a door lock.
Dulon: This is the door I was talking about, this a door lock you know, that’s a real, it’s still
working and there was a figure on the top as I told you and they are hermaphrodite figures as you
can see, like the other one they are called Nomor, Nomor are the first I mean the first
manifestation of God that went on the Earth before the creation of the world.
Dulon: The foreign centre a piece we made a radiocarbon test on it and you know at this time you
know the image of a rider with the horse that’s now the heads … but was something very powerful,
this is an image of power. This is from Mallee too, this is a … population they were in this place
before the Dogon and there you can see the you know … place where they put arrows and there on
the other hand you have the rest of the knife, that was here now, yes, many things are missing and
you know the many material here they just took with a little knife to make magic.
Dulon: This is a simple cup they just used for the food, but the food of the ogon, the ogon you can
place a King, is represented here at the top with a special necklace that is symbol of his high rank
and we know maybe 12 other cup like this you know so that’s very, very rare.
Dulon: This one is coming from an American collection. It was sold years ago by a very, very
famous New Yorker dealers that he calls Julius Cullback and for instance he is the man that gave
African pieces for Alfred Hitchcock movies. This is a kind of frame you know, here you can feel
just a little cup where you can put sacrifice like mud, feather maybe chicken blood and those one
are the Nomor those are hermaphrodite figures that are the as I told you at the top of Dogon
consideration in Armenian mythology.
Dulon: Mallee is a very special place where things from the 11th Century has been found because
there is no rain, not too much rain, there are graves where you have very, very ancient work of art
have been found. This is unique in Africa.
Dulon: This is a mask that we call Satimbi. Now so this piece has been published twice and it has
been studied by the woman that is actually the ones that know the best this country, it maybe one
of the most important Satimbi masks that you can imagine in the world.
Dulon: This one is a very, very rare and a very famous figure because we know for like those one
there is one in Metropolitan in New York, one in … in Paris, one in a private collection and this
one and it has been dated between the 15th and the 17th Century. This is a piece that went out from
Africa in the 60’s and at this time it has been published in a little book in Switzerland and at the
time it was I think for sale for nothing. And then it has been bought to a dealer that probably had
the idea to say I will sell it to States and at this time in States nobody wants to buy a broken piece.
So the piece completely disappeared and then we find it 30 years ago in a little auction in New
York and they have put arms here, a beard here, and a nose.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Bernard Dulon, Dulon Arican Art, ???