The flat face in leaf shape is more or less stylized. It is placed on a wider oval on which they could hang ear ornaments. The hair is a crest looking like a military helmet and the hollowed diamond shape constituting the body is undoubtedly a symbol of female fertility.
Collected at an unknown date, which is the case for most of these pieces, a Kota figure 66 cm high had highly influenced the art of the twentieth century by the constructivist purity of its face limited to a central ridge between the two eyes positioned halfway up the head.
Its provenance is exceptional.
Its earliest identified owner is Georges de Miré in the 1920s. De Miré was one of very few connoisseurs at that time who knew to see an intrinsic artistic quality within a tribal piece.
Following financial difficulties, De Miré sold his collection at auction in Drouot on 16 December 1931. The Kota was purchased at this sale by Helena Rubinstein.
It was acquired in the early 1980s by William Rubin, the director in New York MoMA and former friend of Picasso who was able to interview the artists to explain the depth of the tribal influence on modern art, becoming the most subtle theorist of primitivism.
This figure is estimated € 6M for sale by Christie's in Paris on June 23, lot 37. The video shared by Christie's to introduce this lot is mostly a tribute to Rubin's exceptional vision.