Offered by: Robert Funk Fine Art
1581 Brickell Ave., Suite 2303 Miami, FL 33129 , United States Call Seller 305.857.0521


Devil Emerges from Surrealist Voodoo Drum - Sans titre (Diable)

$ 55,000
  • Description
    An image of a horned devil with pointy claws and bat-like wings emerges from a Voodoo drum. He has with arms stretched out like a Christ figure. The drum grows out of a yellow plant-like tree with an opening at its base from which the devil's pointed tail emanates and wraps itself around a branch.
    The bottom half of the picture features green leaves with blossoming red flowers.
    they point up. The top half features four devil-like characters that appear to grow from the tree-like fruit. The one on the immediate right of the devil looks like a hybrid bird whose mouth is open, displaying a red-pointed devil tale for a tongue. "His surrealist paintings mostly depict voodoo scenes or deities lwas. ( Haïti is, the saying goes, "80 percent Catholic and 100 percent Vodou." This painting is steeped in a mix of Catholicism and Haitian Voodoo and painted with a overtone of Surrealism. It's as mysterious as it's intriguing. Signed lower right.
    Provenance: Sotheby's

    Rigaud Benoit (1911–1986) had become one of the three or four most highly prized Haitian artists well before his death.
    Early life

    A native of Port-au-Prince, Benoit had been a shoemaker, musician, and taxi driver before making his living as a painter. He had also supplemented his income by painting pottery pieces he rarely signed or acknowledged.

    Benoit was an early member of the Haitian art movement known as Naive Art, so-called because of its members' limited formal training. The movement was first recognized and promoted by the Centre d'Art, founded in 1944 by the American Quaker and World War II conscientious objector Dewitt Peters.

    According to a widely repeated story, Benoit was working as Peters's chauffeur in 1944 when he saw some of the first works displayed at the Centre d'Art. He immediately decided he could do as well as any of the featured artists. Late in life Benoit denied that tale, insisting that he had merely visited the Centre out of curiosity before submitting his first works to Peters. He is featured, giving that account, in Krik? Krak! (Tales of a Nightmare), a VHS feature by Jac Avila and Vanyoska Gee (VHS, 78 minutes. Chicago: Facets Video, 1997).

    However he got his start, his paintings rapidly became among the most highly sought of any Haitian artist. Then, in the early 1950s Benoit was one of a handful of artists asked to decorate the interior of the Cathedral of Sainte Trinité; his great mural, Nativity, stood above the high altar. (The Catholic archbishop had — to his subsequent regret — denied permission for "mere Haitians" to decorate the Roman cathedral. The Episcopal bishop eagerly consented to the project. On seeing the result he exclaimed "Thank God!, they painted Haitians.") The cathedral and its many masterpieces was all but totally destroyed in the January 2010 earthquake.

    Some of Benoit's later work was surrealistic, though he continued to produce scenes of Haitian life — narrative scenes — until his death.

    Benoit married the daughter of his friend, the legendary Hector Hyppolite, the first Haitian artist to win international recognition — and still the most acclaimed — in international art circles. They had four children. Three of them — Yves Lafontant and Jacques Dorce, both adopted, and Rigaud Benoit, fils — are also accomplished artists. (Benoit fils lives in New York, his sister in Montreal.)

    Benoit's work is characterized by precise draftsmanship, muted colors (compared with most Haitian artists outside the Northern or Cap-Haïtien school), and often — in his narrative paintings — a sense of humor. His surrealist paintings mostly depict voodoo scenes or deities lwas. (Haïti is, the saying goes, "80 percent Catholic and 100 percent Vodou." In the past century evangelical Protestantism has reduced both figures.)

    Benoit worked slowly — usually fewer than half-a-dozen pieces a year. Following a near-fatal automobile accident early in 1980, his production declined further. He had, by that time, attained a measure of financial security: he owned a comfortable cottage on the outskirts of the Haitian capital.
  • More Information
    Documentation: Signed
    Origin: Haiti
    Period: 1950-1979
    Materials: Oil on Masonite
    Condition: Good. Good
    Creation Date: 1970
    Styles / Movements: Post War, Surrealism, Outsider Art
    Incollect Reference #: 715300
  • Dimensions
    W. 27.5 in; H. 32 in;
    W. 69.85 cm; H. 81.28 cm;
Message from Seller:

You'll find an eclectic group of art works at Robert Funk Fine Art. 45 years of experience has shaped Director Robert Funk's multi-perspective approach to presenting art. As an undergrad in painting, he studied with great teachers such as first-generation abstract expressionist Robert Richenburg and hyper-realist painter Janet Fish. In Graduate School he worked with famed critic E.C. Goossen and went on to work as a Photographer, New York Advertising Art Director, and Art Collector.

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