Introduction by Serge le Guennan
Texts by Max Itzikovitz, Robert Neuburger, Olivier Céna,
Amaelle Favreau, Bruno Gay, Maine Durieu, Robert Gadessaud,
Tita Reut, Patrick Grimaud, and Philibert Got
Drawings by Didier Derre
Photographs by Nicolas Bruant
This book’s aim is to take the reader on a trip round the planet, with only a spoon for a guide: after all, this little, everyday object has been present in all cultures since time immemorial. The huge collection of spoons examined range from specimens from Europe, from the Dan, the Zulus, and the many peoples of the Congo, in Africa, and from Sumatra in Southeast Asia. It was amassed by Serge Le Guennan over many years and reflects the variety of uses to which these objects were put, but also the tastes of different cultures. Manufactured on five different continents, these spoons can be either extraordinarily elaborate or pared down to the purest line, testifying to man’s limitless imagination in his carving of a wide variety of materials, ranging from wood and ivory to shells. The book is divided into five chapters Europe, the Americas, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Oceania and describes 130 spoons according to purely aesthetic criteria and from different periods: the oldest date from the eighth century, but many are examples of eighteenth and nineteenth-century primitive art. The features of the various cultures are brought to life by way of the drawings from nature of Didier Derre, an artist who in the spirit typical of nineteenth-century travellers spent almost two years trying to capture the importance of the detail and the sheer beauty of this simple everyday object in his sketches.
Serge le Guennan has been a dealer and collector of primitive art since 1975. His collection is housed in his Galerie SL in Paris and some of his objects are on display in major museums, such as the Musée du Quai Branly and the Musée Barbier-Mueller.
Nicolas Bruant is a well-known photographer; his photos are often published in the magazines Côté Sud, Condé Nast Traveller, and Elle Décoration. He has also contributed to a number of books, including La Statuaire primitive de l’ouest du Népal.
Didier Derre is a self-taught draughtsman whose drawings are inspired by the sketches of nineteenth-century travellers.
Robert Neuburger is a psychiatrist and a collector of primitive art.
Max Itzikovitz is known throughout the world as a collector of primitive art.
Olivier Céna is a writer and art critic for Télérama, specializing in modern and contemporary art.
Maine Durieu is a gallery owner specializing in West African art. In 2005, she mounted an exhibition devoted to the bronzes of the Gan, an ethnic group in Burkina Faso.
Amaelle Favreau is an expert on African art and obtained her diploma at the École du Louvre. She is a qualified guide at the Musée du Quai Branly and teaches at the École du Louvre and at the Institut Catholique de Paris.
Bruno Gay is a collector and has contributed to several publications on primitive art. Robert Gadessaud is a collector of spoons from all over the world and an expert in Breton culture and traditions.
Tita Reut is a poet and publisher, and has organized a number of international exhibitions of contemporary art. She collaborates with the sculptor Arman, with whom she has published numerous books. She founded the publishing house Éditions de l’Ariane in 2005.
Patrick Grimaud is a collector of Himalayan art and has a particular interest in shamanism.
Philibert Got is a philosophy student.