Menil Collection Publishes an Award-Winning Book

"Ancestors of the Lake" has been dismantled, its pieces returned to worldwide museums and private collections.

If you didn't see the Menil Collection exhibit that gave visual props to rare and unusual art from New Guinea, no worries-ish. Last week, the companion text to the exhibit, Ancestors of the Lake: Art of Lake Sentani and Humboldt Bay, New Guinea, received a top-dog nod from the third annual Prix International du Livre d'Art Tribal (International Tribal Art Book Prize). The international quarterly magazine Tribal Art teams with Sotheby's to present awards in the field of tribal-art publications.

Virginia-Lee Webb, who edited the robust 128-page document that the Menil published to correspond with the exhibit, says that the undertaking (both the exhibit and the book) took about three years to complete.

"The loans were a challenge," says a jetlagged Webb, who flew to Paris to accept the award, by phone from New York. "A lot of them had not left their collections where they reside. In fact, one had never been on public display."

The most visible example is the book's front-cover image that depicts Double Figure (Le Lys), "a very famous sculpture," says Webb, that's owned by the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

Webb explained that despite her efforts, the show, which was on display from May 6 through August 28, wasn't able to travel to other museums on the planet. Though she's bummed about that, at least she has an award-winning book to remember the exhibit by.

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