Sotheby's Fourth Sale of Modern and Contemporary African Art
March 2019, London: This April, Sotheby’s dedicated sale of Modern and Contemporary African Art will return to London for a fourth consecutive season, following a pre-sale exhibition which will run from March 29 – April 2.
Since the inauguration of the series in 2017, Sotheby’s sales in the category have achieved fifty world records, championing the work of artists from across the African diaspora and underscoring the rising global interest.
The international market for Modern and Contemporary African Art is certainly heating up, with exciting conversations igniting across the field, fuelled by milestones including the opening of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art and the Norval Foundation in Cape Town, growth of international art fairs such as 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London, New York and Marrakech, Art X Lagos, and of course the highly-anticipated Ghana Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale. Sotheby’s own entry into the field further attests the position of modern and contemporary African art firmly in the global market.
Last season’s sale at Sotheby’s totalled £2.3 million ($3 million) and attracted collectors from 20 different countries. 2018s sales saw strong results for established artists including Ben Enwonwu (Obitun Dancer; £187,500/$265,744) and El Anatsui (Tagomizor; £670,000/$883,730) to rising stars like Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga, just 27 years old, whose Mangbetu soared to five times above the pre-sale high estimate (£65,000/$92,124).
This year’s public exhibition and sale will include a carefully curated collection of paintings, photographs, drawings and sculpture from across the African continent. Witnessing first-hand the growth in demand, audience and variety of works, Sotheby’s Head of Department Hannah O’Leary states:
“When it comes to Contemporary art, people are always looking for something new - a demand which absolutely lends itself to this genre. Spanning over 16 countries, a kaleidoscope of cultures and themes, and comprising the works of both established and emerging artists alike, our Modern and Contemporary African art auction remains one of the most exciting, innovative and relevant sales in the market today.
African art has undergone something of a Renaissance in the past decade, signalled by rapidly developing interest from collectors across the globe. Indeed, over a quarter of buyers in last year’s sale were from the African continent but the categories collector base spans Asia, Europe, Australasia and North America, and it is fantastic to see African artists surging to the forefront of international collections, both private and public.
This is therefore an incredibly exciting time to be dealing with modern and contemporary African art, and there remain some tempting opportunities for collectors to get involved. Our sale features work by some of the biggest names in the field at affordable prices, but, as these works become more and more in demand, it’s unlikely to stay this way for long. If you’re in London this April, make sure you visit the exhibition – there really is something for everyone to see”.
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