To pay his heavy debts to the gallery owner Pierre Loeb, the traveler Jacques Viot visits this area in 1929 and collects what remains from these ravages : wooden figures and bark clothes. These artifacts sent to Paris complete the tribal iconography appreciated by Loeb's clients. The elongated figures scraped slightly in the round from a straight piece of trunk or branch excited the connoisseurs of Modigliani and inspired Max Ernst and Jacob Epstein.
On May 15 in New York, Sotheby's sells a 103 cm high female statue from Lake Sentani whose crude figurative stylization is particularly effective and appealing. It is estimated $ 1M, lot 29. The legs are slightly apart without the inner part being hollowed out. One hand has six fingers, we will never know why.
Before bringing it to France, Viot took care to photograph it on site, proudly displayed by two Papuans beside a slightly taller male statue.
The lower part of the female figure keeps some traces for hooking. It could be the upper piece of a post whose lower piece was the other figure in Viot's photo. The Papuan mysticism encouraged to raise their eyes to the sky when revering the ancestors and regarded Lake Sentani as the home of the rainbow.