With the death of Ezio Bassani at the age of 93 on August 4, 2018, the African art world has lost one of its major figures.

An anti-fascist Partisan in his youth in the closing years of World War II, a student of literature, then a businessman who traveled widely as manager of a paper-manufacturing company, it was not until his retirement in his fifties that he gave himself over entirely to what had become his ruling passion: the art of sub-Saharan Africa.

During business trips to London, Paris, Brussels, and New York, Bassani had already begun to acquire a small collection of African masks and figures. He also made contacts, which became friendships, with a number of museum curators and art dealers. However, his collecting activities took second place to what became an all-consuming impulse to learn more and write about the works of art he loved. His first...

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