The marketplace for modern and contemporary art from Africa has transformed dramatically over the past decade, but despite this long-overdue correction, there’s still a considerable way to go towards addressing the under-representation of African artists, who account for just 0.01% of the international art market.
“In recent years, I’ve seen an exponential increase in market demand from collectors in Africa and the African diaspora, as well as international art collectors and influencers who are embracing art from Africa as exciting, innovative and relevant. Sotheby’s entry to the market is in direct response to its current strength and its even greater potential over the coming years,” states Hannah O’Leary, Head of Modern & Contemporary African Art.
Artists of interest include William Kentridge, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Cheri Samba, Ben Enwonwu, El Anatsui, Irma Stern, Wangechi Mutu among many others.
In 2017, Sotheby’s held their inaugural art sale in London representing 63 artists from 14 countries. The sale totalled $3.6 million
A new record was set for the British Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, when Crash Willy, from 2009, sold for £224,750 ($290,422). In 2010, this work was the centrepiece of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy in London and the recipient of The Royal Academy of Arts Charles Wollaston Award for ‘Most Distinguished Work’.
The most valuable two works in the sale were by the Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, whose tapestry of shimmering bottle caps, Earth Developing More Roots from 2011, sold for £728,750 ($941,691), and the South African artist Irma Stern, whose still life of Sunflowers from 1942 made £416,750 ($538,524).