The African art market in 2017 sustained the impressive record it created in 2016, a year in which the continent enjoyed being the toast of the art world with a great lineup of international shows focusing on Africa.
At the auction Africa Now – Modern Africa in May 2016, 85 percent of the lots were sold, including Ben Enwonwu’s Spirit of Ogolo for €260,500 and El Anatsui’s Used Towel for €210,144, setting new records. El Anatsui’s Peju’s Robe also sold for roughly €960,542, including acceptance, at Bonhams’ Post-War and Contemporary Art auction in February 2016.
The year 2017 saw a similar impressive lineup, including Bonhams’ auction Africa Now – Modern Africa (15 Feb.); Art Africa Fair in Cape Town (24 Feb.-3 March); Art Paris Art Fair (30 March-2 April); the New York edition of 1:54 Contemporary Art Fair (4-7 May), ART X Lagos (Nov. 3-5), among others.
In 2017, Sotheby’s, an international auction house, broke the record for the sale of modern and contemporary African art with a figure of $3.6 million previously held by Bonhams in 2016 at just over $2 million.
ART X Lagos, the rapidly expanding annual art fair which debuted in 2016, held a successful second edition with exhibitions by 14 galleries and three independent artists drawn from Nigeria, other African countries and the Diaspora. Whereas the first edition attracted 5,000 visitors and featured the work of 65 artists, the second edition recorded 9,000 visitors.
The Arthouse Contemporary Auction held in Lagos on May 22, 2017 crossed the average sales line, recording a total sale of N166,156,000, according to official results. Similarly, the November 27 auction recorded 60 percent sales from a total of 99 lots put up for sale, with total lots sold at N109,212,500.
Interest in and demand for modern and contemporary art from Africa will continue to grow, art professionals reckon. Accounting for only about $20 million, or 0.0003 percent, of the estimated global art market turnover of $63.8 billion (2015 TEFAF Art Market Report), they say the market for modern and contemporary African art still has plenty of room to grow.
Art is a good hedge against inflation, hence a good store of value in uncertain and financially volatile periods. Those with investible fund had better listen.
The writer can be reached via chuks.oluigbo@ businessdayonline.com or 07031029998