Collection

Face Mask

Face Mask

Fang, Gabon.
Late 20th Century, ca. 1980.
Incised Wood, Pigment, 17" x 9½".

This wood mask is a representation of the human head with a heart-shaped face. It is decorated with incised grooves over the crest of the head implying. This motif is also seen across the eyelids, possibly symbolizing eyebrows or eyelashes. The heart-shape of the face adds to the shape of the protruding mouth and lips, giving it a slight smile and its nose and temples are decorated with geometric patterns similar to other decorative geometric styles. A particular feature seen here are the highly stylized ears placed just past the temples.

The Fang culture dominates various regions across the Atlantic coast of Africa, the Southern edge of Cameroon and further South, but can be found predominantly in Gabon, Equatorial Guinea. Here, they have been the politically dominant group since their independence in the late 20th century and continue the tradition of making the Fang style of mask. Fang masks similar to the one seen here are believed to have been a main proponent in the initiation of Cubism, and early geometric studies in modernism by artists such as Braque and Picasso. After receiving great acclaim upon their arrival into France and Europe in the late 19th century, many of these cultural masks took on a new life inspiring artists a world away.

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