Dan Anthropomorphic Spoon, Ivory Coast
height 17in (43.2cm)
Dr. Haywood Heffron Collection, New York
Private Collection, New York
In Primitivism in Twentieth Century Art (Rubin, William, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1984: p 507), author Rosalind Krauss discusses the influence of Dan spoons on Giacometti in his work, Spoon Woman:
"Moving toward a much deeper level of structural assimilation of African carved object, Spoon Woman acknowledges the metaphor frequently put in place by Dan grain spoons, in which the bowl of the implement is likened to the lower part of the female, seen as a receptacle, or pouch, or cavity. These spoons - many of which were 'abstract' in character - were quite commonplace in the years before 1927. Six spoons from Paul Guillaume's collection were included in the massive exhibition of African and Oceanic art at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in the winter of 1923-24. By taking the metaphor and inverting it, so that 'a spoon is like a woman' becomes 'a woman is like a spoon', Giacometti was able to intensify the idea and to make it universal by generalizing the forms of the sometimes rather naturalistic African carvings towards a more prismatic abstraction. In forcing on the Dan model the image of the woman who is almost nothing but womb, Giacometti assimilated the formal elegance of the African object to the more brutish conception of Stone Age fertility Venuses."