African art – signs of a boom

With a keen eye, large auction houses recognize the rising trend: African art is sold on international markets. It still happens in niches. But Artcurial, Christies and Sotheby’s drive attention and demand in a targeted manner, making themselves trend setters. At Sotheby’s most recent auction, “Modern & Contemporary African Art”, the purchase prices were 40 percent above the original estimate.

With a keen eye, analysts recognize the trend: African art is more and more sold on international markets. It still happens in niches. So far. But the hints go beyond that. Sotheby’s sends signals. At its most recent auction, “Modern & Contemporary African Art”, the purchase prices were 40 percent above the originally estimated prices.

Sotheby’s has only held the Africa auction – bi-annually – for four years. With constant growth. Hannah O’Leary, the head of the division, predicts a steeper increase for the coming years. Because contemporary African art is only just being discovered internationally by art lovers and collectors. Sotheby’s sales of African art have so far made up less than 1 percent. So far, the demand has mainly come from “outsiders”, people who otherwise don’t romp around on the market. But that is constantly changing. Step by step.

With increasing dynamic, driven by auctions, exhibitions, trade fairs and new galleries in major cities from Paris to London to Los Angeles. Black and Brown art matters! Of course!

One of the vibrant exhibition and trans-shipment areas is, for example, the “Rele Gallery” in posh West Hollywood. It is very close to the legendary Sunset Strip, in the area of ​​LA’s rich and famous. African art is meeting increasing demand there.

Rele’s declared mission is to bring African art closer to a larger audience. As it says: “local and global”. The signs are set. With great self-confidence.

The MOCAA – the Museum of Contemporary Art Africa – in Cape Town is already heralding how much contemporary African art will find attention and recognition. The prognosis is daring. The building itself is a monumental architectural masterpiece, outstanding in every respect. A 33-meter-high former grain silo redesigned by Heatherwick Studio / London with a global appeal. You can see the breathtaking collection of African art by Jochen Zeitz and exhibitions of newly discovered artists.

African art invites you to discover and AG18 wants to make a contribution to this. That’s why we invited the Kenyan artist WiseTwo. He has already made an international impression. Now he will come to Austria for the first time. From July 14th to October 16th 2021 we will be exhibiting his works. At the opening of the show, he will be there and he shall paint a mural on a wall in the gallery, if you are lucky you can meet the artist beforehand and exchange a few words and pictures on to his artistic process.

During his visit to Vienna, WiseTwo will also paint a mural for the exhibition “Unlearning Racism” exhibition in the Welt-Museum organized by Calle Libre from August 2021 until February 2022. 

Text: Michael Schmitz