Art from Bali and Indonesia
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Browse all Art Deco artwork in our collection


The name 'art deco' was created from a French title of an exhibition in Paris in 1925; Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. Art deco refers to an art movement in between the two World Wars, the Interbellum (1920-1940). This movement went against the existing art trends and habits. In architecture more geometry is used and art objects get a more stylized form. The colours change and obsessive ornaments are taken out. As a result the emphasis is more on form and thus on expression rather than a correct display of reality.
From the above it is understandable that the label 'art deco' has many interpretations. However not every prewar Bali carving is an art deco artwork.
All the carvings on this page have a number of art deco features and may be qualified as 'art deco'; all carvings have a stylized form where the artist was clearly looking for the ideal lines. The ornaments-decorations are taken out or restricted to certain parts of the carving, which enhances the overall form and display. On the other hand some parts are enlarged or extended, like the sleeping lady.
Typical for the Balinese art deco are the extended fingers and toes, and an enlarged body, anatomically incorrect but with more expression.



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Sitting woman with mirror. Woodcarving from Bali, prewar
1930-1940
Impressive tall statue from the Pita Maha period(1928-1942). Striking elements are the beautiful deco lines that run downwards, and the vegetation-leave-motif on her head scarf. Copying is a normal and accepted thing in Bali, but for a copy you need the orginal. For all the ladies with mirror-carvings, this is probably the preferred original. Each photo can be enlarged two times by clicking on the image.



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Reclining lady in art deco style
1930-1940
Many of these panels are made over the years in Bali. Some like this one, others of mothers with their babies. Most of them don't have the refinement of a Pita Maha carving, but were just made for the tourist market. This one has a very high quality in both carving skill as well as lay out. The maker clearly was looking for the ideal line in his art work. Something we in the West refer to as 'art deco'. The face is subdued but also mysterious. Very few decorative ornaments in this carving, which enhances the overall expression of this impressive art work. Pls click on the photo to get more info and photos.



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Balinese high priest with container for holy water
1930-1940
Excellent carving from the Pita Maha period(1928-1945). There are beautiful details, like the open container and much detail to the fingers and feet of the priest. On photo 9, 10 and 11 the art deco lines are clearly visible. Carved in the expensive satinwood, only used by the best carvers of the village. Finished with a beautiful dark brown patina. Pls click on the photo to get more info and photos.



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Wooden coloured statue of a female priest ("Pedanda Isteri").
1930-1940
On bali there are more female priests than male. They are treated equally. The Pedanda Isteri has 3 important tasks: every morning she prepares the holy water, she also prepares the offerings (banten), and she may lead a ceromony if called upon. When she leads a temple ceremony she has to be of the Brahmin caste. Some Pedanda Isteri are married to a male priest. Rare statue, probably made in the time that Art Deco was in demand, hence the colouring (the colours used are typical for the art deco). Made in the thirties by a very talented anonymous artist. Most likely was this sculpture commissioned by a gallery or a foreign customer.



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Archer who tries to shoot the deer
1935-1940
Strong expressive rendering of the famous archer in the Hindu Ramayana story who tries to shoot the holy deer. Special attention for the enlarged bow, which increases the overall power of the carving. Pls click on the photo to get more info and photos.



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Mother and child. Wooden sculpture made on Bali.
1920-1930
Exceptional long carving (very rare!). Carved in Art Deco, a style that just became known on Bali at that time. A similar carving was exhibited during the exhibition "ART DECO ON BALI" in the Nusantara Museum in Delft (Holland) in 2005. It was published in a book accompanying the exhibition "Art Deco Sculptures From Bali 1930-1970" written by Frans Leidelmeier (page 69). Pls click on each photo to see two larger images.



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Balinese woman with 3 birds. Wooden sculpture made on Bali in the thirties
1920-1930
Extremely long sculpture (very rare!) in a time that it became popular for balinese artists to create longer sculptures. Later a broader base was made to make the sculpture more stable. This statue must have been one of the first in his kind. Later it has been copied many times in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Pls click on each photo to see two larger images.



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Phenomenal wooden sculpture of a sleeping woman in art deco style. Made on Bali in the 1930s.
1930-1940
The new wave of woodcarving during the Pita Maha period (1930-1942) reaches here a high. The artist, I Made Geremboeang, is able to come up with the right solutions for the most difficult parts of the carving; pay attention how the arms and hands, traditionally the most difficult in art, are handled. Also the legs and feet are carved brilliantly. By pulling up the legs the tension in the carving is increased without influencing the intimite and subdued character of the scene. The head is not bent to one side, but looking straight upwards, giving it a good contrast with the rest of the body. The hair is carved flat and stylish, and beautifully ignored to one side of the carving. Just be aware that a woodcarver must have this form in his mind before he does the first cut! Because this sleeper is the purest example of that new art wave on prewar Bali, which Bonnet describes in 1936 as I Geremboeang being the best master of this genre, there can be no doubt that Geremboeang was the maker of this magnificent piece of art. Please click on the photo for more photos and info.



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Woodcarving sleeping woman Pita Maha
1930-1940
Maginficent grotesque carving of a sleeping lady. This panel was made by a mastercarver in the 1930s The difference with the panel Tobo 612 is the rough big manner in which this artwork has been made. Clearly the carver was trying to make an impression by looking for the bigger lines instead of going into detail. The result is enhanced by the unusual dimensions (44 cm) and the very dense and heavy wood that he used. Pls click on the photo to get more info and photos.



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Sitting Balinese priest with mudra
1930-1940
Great example of the great woodcarving skills of the Balinese. This magnificent carving of a sitting Bali priest was probably made by a simple rice farmer, who learned the skill from his father. Not many carvings show these complicated handpostures, called "mudra's". Tyra Kleen studied these handpostures and made many drawings of the different mudras and published them in the book ; "Mudras auf Bali" 1923. This particular mudra is not in the book, but no doubt does it represent a certain meaning in the Hindu religion. Pls click on the photo to get more info and photos.



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The golden deer has been struck by Rama's arrow. A scene from the Hindu story Ramayana. Pls click on each photo to see a larger image
1930-1940
Animal carving with great expression. The golden deer Patih Maritja, a servant of the demon king Rawana, has disguised himself as a golden deer to lure Rama and his brother Laksama away from Sita, so that Rawana can take her with him. When the golden deer has been struck by an arrow, the deer changes into a demon, and the brothers realize they have been fooled. At that moment the real adventure begins in the Ramayana saga; to try to find Sita and free her from Rawana. If you click on the photo you will get more photos and info.



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Bird with prey
1930-1940
Bird sculpture with strong art deco features. The twisted neck is very difficult to execute.



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Birdcarving with one wing upwards and twisted neck.
1930-1940
Good well-detailed carving. Probably made in the animal-woodcarving-village Njuh Kuhning near by Ubud. Their favourite animal must have been the bird when you consider the big number of bird-carvings all around the world. Striking is the somewhat odd lightbrown varnish and the rich ornamented wings.





Some of our Art Deco artwork presented here
was shown in 2005-2006 during the exhibition:

"ART DECO OP BALI"

in the Nusantara museum in Delft - Holland.
Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Some of our Art Deco artwork was also published
in the book accompanying the exhibition:

"ART DECO BEELDEN VAN BALI 1930-1970"


written by Frans Leidelmeier.

 
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