News & Events


by Entwistle on 14 June 2018

Entwistle recently presented an extraordinary Baule mask attributed to a recognized sculptor known as 'The Kamer Master'...

At our recent exhibition 'Four Masterpieces of African Art / Quatre Chefs-d'Oeuvre de l'Art Africain', we showed a Baule masterpiece, a mask (mblo) displaying an extraordinary mastery of sculptural proportions, evidenced in the sublime detail of its facial features, as well as great ingenuity in the balance of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic detail as we see the neck and heads of three birds’ heads playfully emerging from the coiffure of the mask.

The delicacy of the features on the countenance of the mask marks it as arguably the work of a master sculptor named ‘The Kamer Master’ by Bernard de Grunne in an essay devoted to the recognition of master-hands in the sculpture of the Baule peoples. In this essay, de Grunne makes reference to a famous mask representing the moon from the Udo Horstmann collection that was publicized by Jacqueline Delange in 1958 as part of the Henri Kamer collection and which shares with the present example, as well as another moon mask, the same distinctively delicate rendering of the domed forehead, eyebrows and nose.[1]

In the case of the present example, we are witnessing not only portraiture at the peak of its expressive creativity but also one of those rare cases where the delicacy of a recognized master’s touch is evidenced in one or two subtle details.



This remarkable representation of a member of the commnunity culminates, as a summation of its parts (the domed forehead and the delicate eyebrows and nose), in an ode to beauty, male or female, which, in representing one individual, represents the community by extension.

As the most refined of Baule mask forms, it is here that sculptors demonstrated their masterful skills in bringing out the idealized beauty in an individual portrait. Since these individual portraits are just that – a personalized reflection of the attributes of one member of the culture, the masks are always different, even, as Vogel states, “…when twins are shown together on the same mask…”[2]

The mask has been widely published and and celebrated at various exhibitions such as the 1989 show 'La Grande Scultura della Africa Nera' at the Forte di Belvedere, Florence; in 1998 at the Art Institute of Chicago in 'Baule: African Art Western Eyes'; at the Museum Rietberg, Zurich in 2014 in 'Afrikanische Meister. Kunst der Elfenbeinküste'; in the 2015 show 'Les Maître de la Sculpture Côte d’Ivoire' at the Musée du quai Branly, Paris; and, most recently, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in the 2017 exhibition 'The Inner Eye: Vision and Transcendence in African Arts'. CE

[1] Bernard de Grunne, ‘About the Baule Style and its Masters’, in: Eberhard Fischer and Lorenz Homberger, Eds, African Masters: Art from the Ivory Coast, Zurich, 2014, p. 101
[2] Susan Mullin Vogel, Ed., Baule: African Art, Western Eyes, New Haven, CT, 1997,
p. 144
More News