AboutBernard de Grunne
Immersed in the world of tribal art for over 50 years, Bernard de Grunne assisted his father Baudouin de Grunne in the development of his legendary tribal art collection between 1968 and 1995. He studied the art of Congo Basin under the leadership of Professor Albert Maesen, legendary curator of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren and defended a thesis in History of African Art with Professor Robert Faris Thomson at Yale University in 1987. He then headed the Tribal Art department of Sotheby's New York and London from 1987 to 1992 setting a world-record price at auction for the Bangwa queen sold to the Dapper Museum.
In 2012, he became an expert for the tribal department of Artcurial until 2016.
In 1995, Bernard de Grunne opened his own gallery specializing in the ancient arts of Africa, Oceania and Indonesia, which promptly acquired an international reputation for quality, scholarship and professionalism. Bernard de Grunne was also advisor to some of the finest private collections formed in the last two decades In Europe and North America. His unrivalled experience of being able to observe and manipulate a large number of major tribal works around the world has allowed him to acquire a very deep knowledge on the issues of authenticity and aesthetic qualities of the major art styles of Africa, Oceania and Indonesia. Bernard de Grunne thus offers expertise that is both completely impartial and of a very high academic level in this very complex field, thanks to his unique experience. He can also rely on his vast network of scholars, laboratories and qualified professional colleagues.
Bernard de Grunne has published extensively on the arts of black Africa, among others on the Hemba and Lega statuary of Congo, the ancient terracotta statuary of the Djenné-Jeno in Mali and the Nok in Nigeria, the ancient Soninke and Dogon styles of Mali, but also on the arts of Oceania, with his famous publication "Papuan art", and of Indonesia with his substantial work on the Dayak of Borneo, just to name a few. He continues with curiosity and passion to thoroughly research in his field and to publish. Each year, he publishes a series of catalogs on a blue background for which he chooses a specific topic which he analyzes and deepens in order to concisely share his fascination for these subjects.
Beside his activity as a gallery owner, Bernard de Grunne organized throughout his career several pioneering exhibitions in parallel with his research, including exhibitions on the Nok statuary of Nigeria in 1998, on the great artists of Black Africa with "Master Hands" in 2001 and on Lega ivories with the exhibition on the Ben Hein collection also in 2001. Other exceptional exhibitions have also been produced in collaboration with major museums but also with various renowned art galleries. In 2017, Bernard de Grunne organized with Almine Rech Gallery an exhibition in their new gallery in New York entitled "Imaginery Ancestors", bringing together tribal arts and modern art, including a series of African works from the collection of Pablo Picasso rarely shown. In 2019, he was the curator of the sections “An Ancient Art. Mande Case: 1,000 years of Art in Mali "and" Not Anonymous Creation, but Art by Artists" for the exceptional "Ex-Africa", an exhibition held at the Museo Civico Archeologico in Bologna. He organized the same year in collaboration with the New York Gallery Venus Over Manhattan the exhibition "Calder Crags + Vanuatu Totems, from the Collection of Wayne Heathcote", comprising a suite of large-scale standing mobiles by Alexander Calder, and a group of historical Vanuatu.