Beyond the long-standing, emotional impetus to exhibit, support and buy African art, the market shows clear signs of structuring. Although it is still a niche –the international auction market for modern and contemporary African art in 2014 was estimated at US$ 31.2 million1, records are regularly broken. And expectations are high. El Anatsui’s metal wall piece Paths to the Okro Farm (2006) was sold US$ 1.44 million on May 15th, 2014 at Sotheby’s New York –the highest price ever paid for an artwork by an African living artist.
The African art sector is also shaping up in terms of infrastructure. A number of museums were inaugurated, or announced, throughout 2014, including the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMVI) in Rabat, Morocco that opened in 2014, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa that is set to open at the end of 2016, and the Fondation Alliances’ contemporary African art museum (MACAAL) that is scheduled for 2017 in Marrakech.
Besides, the flourishing, on-going activity of established art centers boost the art scene, like the Center for Contemporary Art, Lagos in Nigeria and the Raw Material Company in Dakar, Senegal. Some galleries from Africa have become fixtures of the most renowned art fairs in the world, among which Goodman gallery and Stevenson that are both based in Joburg and in Cape Town. Concurrently, art fairs with an exclusive or dominant pan-African focus are burgeoning both in the UK and in South Africa the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London, the Cape Town Art Fair, and the FNB Joburg Art Fair, which recorded US$ 2.3 million in sales in 2014, up 30% from last year.
Some galleries from Africa have become fixtures of the most renowned art fairs in the world, among which Goodman gallery and Stevenson that are both based in Joburg and in Cape Town. Concurrently, art fairs with an exclusive or dominant pan-African focus are burgeoning both in the UK and in South Africa: the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London, the Cape Town Art Fair, and the FNB Joburg Art Fair, which recorded US$ 2.3 million in sales in 2014, up 30% from last year2.
Biennials -this other compulsory figure that has the art world’s favors, have developed across Africa as early as the 90s, including Dak’art in Senegal, the Bamako Encounters, and the East Africa Biennial in Dar es Salaam. The number of biennials has doubled over the past 5 years, up to 15 today.
Collections focusing on African modern and contemporary art have seen the light of day in a few years time. The collection of the French couple Gervanne and Matthias Leridon, which started in 2000 through the endowment fund ‘African Artists for Development’, now counts about 3000 artworks, while the London-based collector Robert Devereux has put together a collection of 800 artworks in four years. The African art production dating from the end of the 19th century up to now remains chronically under- evaluated. Even the most prominent periods are still low in price.
For the past 5 years, the results of auction sales focusing on the Africa modern and contemporary art at Phillips, Bonhams and Christies have been mixed. However, as a result of Africa’s economic growth, the increasing number of millionaires3, and a maturing taste for contemporary art, the domestic market is starting to fuel the demand. Nigerian businessman Prince Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon owns the largest known private collection on African soil to date, including 7000 artworks, 70% of which are modern and contemporary, and 95% by African artists.
A generation of African collectors who acquire art as an asset class is developing. Consequently, auction houses are prospering locally -for an example, sales for Bonhams Africa in May 2014 raised US$ 1.9 million, up 47% from 20134. 3. From 2000 to 2014, the number of dollar millionaires in Africa rose by 145% compared with a global average of 45%. Source : New World Wealth, Joburg 4. Bonhams Our study’s Top 1005 ranking is dominated by the South Africans in first place (40 out of 100 artists, 53% of the Top 100 auction turnover in 2014) and the Nigerians in second (12 out of 100 artists, 3% of the Top 100 auction turnover in 2014).
Like anywhere else, the development of the art scene relies on an active market and an efficient infrastructure, which are expected to strengthen on the African continent as a whole, while a healthy competition settles in. Knowledge, and a trained eye, will be paramount for future collectors.
Africa Art Market Top 100 Ranking 2014
- The Top 100 Ranking 2014 is dominated by South African artists in first place (40 out of 100 artists) and Nigerian artists in second (12 out of 100 artists).
- 42% of the 100 artists practice painting, 28% sculpture, and 14%photography.
- The number of biennials has increased by 50% in the past 5 years, up to 15 today.
- Sales for Bonhams in Africa in May 2014 raised US$ 1.9 million, up 47% from 2013.
- The FNB Joburg Art Fair recorded US$ 2.3 million in sales in 2014, up 30% from last year.
- Gervanne and Matthias Leridon’s collection counts about 3000 artworks (assembled in 14 years) while Robert Devereux’s counts 800 artworks (assembled in 4 years). Both have an average acquisition rate of 200 artworks per year.
- The largest known private collection on African soil is owned by Nigerian businessman Prince Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon. It includes 7000 artworks, 70% of which are modern and contemporary, and 95% by African artists.
The artistic landscape of West Africa is as dynamic as it is uneven. In Nigeria, the art market is burgeoning, so much so that the commercial capital, Lagos, has the highest density of galleries per square meter on the continent after South Africa.
Commercial art galleries play a significant role in diffusing contemporary African art around the world. They often are hybrid structures, such as art centers that sell artworks or galleries associated with publishing ventures. For example, Art Twenty One is a contemporary art space founded in 2013 by Nigerian art consultant Caline Chagoury in Lagos.
It aims to strengthen the growing Nigerian art scene by positioning it on the international art scene and participated in the FNB Joburg Art Fair and the new 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London in 2014. Another example in Nigeria is Omenka, a leading art gallery run by Oliver Enwonwu in Lagos. With a particular focus on Nigerian and African art, it participates in major art fairs, including Art Dubai, FNB Joburg Art Fair, Cape Town Art Fair, Docks Art Fair in Lyon, LOOP in Barcelona and 1:54 in London.
It also publishes a celebrated quarterly print and digital magazine that aims to position Africa on the international visual culture scene. In Abidjan, the economic capital of Ivory Coast, veteran art dealer Simone Guirandou- N’Diaye has run the Galerie Guirandou Arts Pluriels since 1981. In 2012, the Cécile Fakhoury Gallery opened and stimulated a revival of the art market following Ivory Coast’s recent political and military conflicts.
In Mali, Chab Touré who used to exhibit African and international photography at Gallery Chab in Bamako, opened Maison Carpe Diem (a gallery, cafe and bookshop) in Ségou in 2010. It represents African painters, sculptors and photographers and participates in art fairs, including 1:54 in London and Art Dubai.
“Lagos has the highest density of galleries per square meter on the continent after South Africa”
Private foundations can be found in Benin, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Created in 2005 by the Beninese art collector Marie-Cécile Zinsou, the Fondation Zinsou plays an important role in promoting and exhibiting African contemporary art in Benin. Since its inception in Cotonou in 2005, it has been organizing exhibitions with a view to educating
people about art, especially the younger generations. In 2013, the foundation inaugurated a museum of contemporary African art, the Musée Zinsou, in Ouidah, where it exhibits artworks by major African artists from the Zinsou collection.
In Ghana, the Nubuke Foundation in Accra was founded by Nubuke Investments managing partner and art collector Tutu Agyare and Ghanaian artist Kofi Setordji in 2006. It collaborates with local and international institutions including the University of Ghana and KNUST (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology) to nurture young Ghanaian artists and promote Ghanaian art, culture and heritage through exhibitions, workshops, residences, a library, poetry and drama. Businessman and art collector Seth Dei opened the Dei Centre in Accra to house his collection, which is curated by the New York University’s Africa House.
In Ivory Coast, the Fondation Donwahi hosts international exhibitions curated by its artistic director Simon Njami. It was founded in 2008 in Abidjan by Illa Donwahi in honor of her father, late businessman, politician and humanist
Charles Bauza Donwahi. Art centers and large-scale art events are crucial for the art scene across the region for building audiences for modern and contemporary art in Africa. Two such art centers are the Centre for contemporary Art in Lagos, Nigeria, founded in 2007 by contemporary art curator Bisi Silva, and the Raw Material
Company, founded in 2011 by artistic director Koyo Kouoh in Dakar, Senegal, which has an exhibition space and an archive center on contemporary art.
Major large-scale art events include Lagos Photo, the first international arts festival in Nigeria that was launched in 2010 – since its inception, its art art director is Azu Nwagbogu and its main sponsor is Etisalat (Emirates Telecommunications Corporation). Lagos Photo was selected by Art Basel and Kickstarter’s crowdfunding
initiative in order to help it expand into a year-round program of exhibitions and workshops in 2015.
In Bamako, Mali, the increasingly successful Bamako Encounters is a biennale of African Photography that has been taking place since 1994, thanks to the financial support of Mali’s Ministry of Culture, the French Institute (spearheaded by France’s foreign and culture ministries) and the European Union. Bisi Silva has been appointed artistic director of the 10th edition of the Bamako Encounters in 2015. The Dakar Biennale, or Dak’Art, was
launched by the Senegalese government in 1990 and has focused on contemporary African art since 1996. It is a stepping stone for African artists and a key player in the development of the contemporary art scene in Africa.
“A plethora of ventures originate from artists themselves”
A plethora of ventures originate from artists themselves. Among these are the Nike Center for Art and Culture founded by textile artist Nike Davies-Okundaye in four Nigerian cities (Lagos, Osun, Kogi and Abuja) in 1983; Espace Tchif launched by artist Francis Tchiakpe in Cotonou, Benin; the Musée de l’Art de la Vie Activeinitiated by Meschac Gaba in Cotonou, Benin; Unik-Lieu de Création Contemporaine in Abomey, Benin; and Artistik created by Kossi Assou in Lomé, Togo
Fondation Zinsou is a private foundation launched in 2005 by Marie-Cécile Zinsou, with her father, French-Beninese financier Lionel Zinsou, as the main sponsor. Mr Zinsou is the chairman and CEO of private equity firm PAI Partners,
based in Paris. His daughter, who grew up in France and the UK, is the instigator and director of the foundation. They founded an art centre in Cotonou, the largest city in Benin, and developed an artistic, cultural and pedagogical program.
The foundation’s annual budget ranges from € 800,000 – 1 million (US$ 1.1 – 1.4 million) and is funded by private and corporate sponsors. It has a staff of about 60 people. Entrance is free, and the targeted audience is school children from 9 to 15 years, followed by their parents. Since 2005, 4.8 million people have visited the foundation, 80% of which are under 20 years old.
“The Fondation Zinsou’s annual budget ranges from US$ 1.1 to 1.4 million and is funded by private and corporate
sponsors. (…) Since 2005, 4.8 million people have visited the foundation, 80% of which are under 20 years old.”
The foundation, an important hub for the modern and contemporary art scene in Benin, is engaged in various types of projects. In 2004, the Zinsou family acquired a throne that had once belonged to King Béhanzin of Abomey (18th century) at a Sotheby’s sale in Paris, a very unique piece for the history of the country that had been on foreign soil since 1894. In 2007, the foundation exhibited a group of Basquiat canvases in Cotonou and also co-produced an exhibition on the Abomey kingdom at Musée du Quai Branly in Paris as well as in Cotonou. It has also provided an
unparalleled opportunity for local artists, including Tchif, Romuald Hazoumé, Zinkpè and Aston, to have their work presented
“In November 2013, the Fondation Zinsou opened the first museum of contemporary African art in Ouidah, 42 km from Cotonou”
In November 2013, the Fondation Zinsou opened the first museum of contemporary African art in the city of Ouidah, 42 km from Cotonou. Musée Zinsou, which occupies a historic Afro-Brazilian building, La Villa Avajon (built in 1922), is open six days a week, free admission. Like the Cotonou art venue, the museum is entirely private and aims to introduce the Beninese to contemporary art. It is popular among school teachers, who can bring their classes thanks to a specially organised “cultural bus”. Its exhibitions are drawn from the foundation’s art collection, which
consists of about 1000 artworks. The inaugural show featured artworks by 14 artists from 9 African countries, representing 10% of the collection.
Marie-Cécile Zinsou, founder, Fondation Zinsou
“Both my father and I buy artworks, from artists, auction houses, and galleries. I select the acquisitions depending on the exhibition program – we buy artworks that have already been exhibited and others that make sense from an historical and pedagogical point of view for our audience. The collection is designed for the public, as opposed to
a personal collection. We don’t impose any geographical restrictions: artists come from Ethiopia, Senegal, South Africa, etc. Some are foreigners based in Africa. They range from the most established to the most emerging artists.
We will continue to acquire artworks but we also want to start archiving the present. There is not enough writing material about artists in Africa today. We want to document the contemporary art scene now, because it will be crucial to have such an archive 30 years from now. The program is called ‘Les Archives du Présent’ (Archives of the Present).
“New projects don’t stem from the nation states, they come from the civilians, which is very specific to the African continent.” Marie-Cécile Zinsou
We have been witnessing an explosion of new initiatives on the African art scene since 2005. New projects don’t stem from the nation states, they come from the civilians, which is very specific to the African continent. The old model of the colonial museum is obsolete and the younger generations come up with new ideas, whatever the financial means available. Initiatives like the Apartment 22 in Rabat, Morocco, don’t have a huge budget, but they are very dense intellectually speaking.”
by Nii Andrews
Migrations, intermingling and hybridization provide a useful perspective from which to consider the contemporary art of Ghana. The art reveals a giddy complex of influences, almost always produced by artists who as individuals are cultural composites – no pejorative intent here, but an honest attempt to describe an authentic concrete reality. Judging from their work, these contemporary Ghanaian artists have formed a secure and uncompromising sense of identity.
They are happy to showcase blends of Ghanaian, African and other world influences as they engage the world as it actually exists and as they attempt to envisage and posit themselves into the future. The old categorizations, tropes
and boxes are certainly outdated and hopelessly limited; we need to migrate away from them. The best spectacles to wear is one of interconnections of a world tradition which for now and the foreseeable future appears inextricably linked. That is surely the most useful perspective from which to gaze purposefully on the works in oil, acrylic,
collages, multimedia, sculpture, textiles, photographs, video and whatever else that constitutes contemporary art in Ghana.
Ghanaian society is a vibrant polyglot resulting from migrations; a steaming cauldron of peppery influences
and inflections – some great, some not so great, as it is with contemporary art. Some of the leading artists include
Prof. Ablade Glover, the master of the palette knife who creates order within disorder; George Hughes, a mixed media impresario with a poignant viewpoint; Max Boadi, a promising artist who works with great sensitivity in oil and charcoal, Marigold Akufo-Addo, a consistently provocative interpreter on canvas of Africa’s myths and legends, and Fredrick Oko Matey, a sculptor who is not intimidated by Africa’s formidable sculptural tradition.
The impressive gallery venues where contemporary art can be seen include the flagship Artists Alliance Gallery, The Loom African Art Gallery, The Dei Center and the Nubuke Foundation. Two important private contemporary art collections are those of the industrialist Seth Dei and the consummate stylist, Damali Kelly. We can only continue to hope that soon there will be a public institution that will record, collect and showcase this patrimony.
Seth Dei, a co-founder of Blue Skies Holdings, is one of Ghana’s most successful investors with stakes in multiple businesses in the areas of leasing, insurance, pharmaceutical manufacturing, fruit processing and marketing. Blue
Skies is a world-leading, freshlycut fruit business generating over $100 million in annual turnover and contributing 1% of Ghana’s total exports. Mr Dei is known to own the largest private collection of Ghanaian painting in the country, comprising 350 to 400 artworks.
He founded the Seth and Carleene Dei Foundation in partnership Focus Dei Center with New York University’s Africa
House, which curates the art collection at the Dei Center.
by Malick Ndiaye
Dakar, the Senegalese capital, is home to several cultural institutions which may be presented in three categories according to their date of creation. Although the selected examples are far from exhaustive and do not indicate the homogeneity of these establishments, this presentation should provide for a clearer understanding of Dakar’s
The first category regards public institutions created in the 1960s-1970s. They form an historical heritage that has long provided a backbone for cultural action. These public institutions include: Ecole Nationale des Arts du Sénégal,
Théâtre National Daniel Sorano, Musée Dynamique, Fondation Léopold Sédar Senghor and the Centre Culturel Blaise Senghor. Besides these heterogeneous structures, there’s also the Musée Théodore Monod d’Art Africain
(1961), managed by the Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire and an establishment belonging to the Université Cheikh Anta Diop.
The second group dates from the 1980s-1990s and paved the way for the new dynamic of the 21st century. At this point, it is necessary to distinguish two types of infrastructures. On the one hand, there are the public structures such as the Galerie Nationale d’Art, Dak-Art – the Biennale de Dakar, the Maison de la Culture Douta Seck, and the Village des Arts. Second, there are private establishments such as the Atelier Céramiques Almadies, the Museum Boribana and the following art galleries: Arte, Kemboury and Atiss.
The third category, which redefined the cultural scene, came to life in the 2000s. It accounts mostly for art centres, creation and research: Kër Thiossane, Espace Timtimol, Résidences Vives Voix, Rechercheet de Création, Raw Material Company and ArtHouse. This category has three distinctive features. First, it regards self-funded structures
with precarious financing. Sponsoring and patronage initiatives are not encouraged by legal measures (a long-awaited law in favour of patronage is still under discussion at the Ministry of Culture). A few firms do sponsor culture in Senegal, namely Eiffage Sénégal, Fondation Sonatel and Fondation Sococim, which supports the Musée Théodore Monod d’Art Africain.
Second, these structures retain a characteristically cosmopolitan form. They are rich of the various origins of its
actors. Lastly, they are efficient in their networking approach, which increases their visibility. This is observed in their collaborations with sub-regional and international institutions, or via participations in satellite fairs during the Dakar
These art centers opened in the last decade and all have heterogeneous programs. They are polyvalent, alternative spaces (including artist residencies, exhibition spaces, spaces for creation, research and publishing, development
of knowledge, debates and the diffusion of art) and are involved in multidisciplinary fields (visual arts, theatre, design, cinema, fashion, multimedia). In relation to the extent of ideas from the Senegalese intellectual class, these platforms lead to break out by playing a part in the creation of knowledge, as well as in its spread.
Their cultural activities are connected to contemporary thoughts, subversive practices and progressive ways of
interpretations. These spaces are new independent actors, on the fringe of the establishment, and have been active participants in the global process defining new borders of artistic geopolitics since the late 1980s.
He is currently a foreign trade advisor to France and an economic diplomacy advisor to the Kingdom of Belgium, based in Dakar. Sylvain Sankalé has a doctorate in History of Law, Economics and Sociology. “I was born in Senegal, to a Senegalese father with origins from Mali, France and England, and a West Indian mother, whose family roots
can be traced to Martinique, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia and Scotland. Several of their friends were artists, in particular Iba N’Diaye. I learnt very early that it was better to own a small but original artwork by an unknown artist than the copy of a large one by a famous artist! My father gave me my first artwork, in red chalk, when I was 11. I still have it.
When I was 20, my childhood friend, the journalist Marie-Jeanne Serbin-Thomas, came from Paris to research her PhD dissertation about Senegalese painting in Dakar. I visited artists’ studios with her and started to appreciate their
work. I curated my first exhibition of Senegalese contemporary art at the age of 21. My art collection has always grown in two directions – traditional art and contemporary art. Both are equally important to me. The 500 artworks that constitute my collection so far come mainly from Senegal, with a few from West Africa, depending on chance encounters, opportunities and possibilities.
For me, it is almost compulsory to meet the artists whose works I collect. I think that I have met every artist whose work is in my collection.
“In the future, I would like to create a foundation with other collectors. We are already talking about it.”
Sometimes, I have bought an artwork before knowing the artist, but the encounter has always followed. Although I don’t have a systematic policy of making my collection available to the general public, I often loan artworks to exhibitions and I am always pleased to invite people to see my collection. In the future, I would like to create a foundation with other collectors. We are already talking about it.”
Bassam Chaitou Collector, Senegal
Born in Dakar, Senegal, Bassam Chaitou divides his time between West Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He studied in France, where he began his career in consulting and finance, then returned to Africa at the age of 31 to become an entrepreneur. He recently created his own strategic consulting company. “I am fascinated by the universalism of human values and the coming together of civilizations through the arts and economic development,
entrepreneurship and leadership.
Based in West Africa, I travel extensively across the three continents of Europe, Africa, and Asia. I started collecting 15 years ago in 1999. The oldest artworks in my collection date from 1960. Everything began after I’d just got back
to Africa. I came across an article in the daily newspaper Le Soleil titled ‘Chérif Thiam, a painter from the Dakar School : The Keen Eye’, by Joanna Grabski, who was then an American PhD student from Illinois preparing her dissertation about the Poto Poto School in Congo and the Dakar School. Intrigued, I decided to visit the first exhibition of the West African Research Center and discovered the work of major Senegalese artists and a whole artistic movement funded in the 1960s by Pierre Lods.
This is when I acquired my first artwork, Le baobab by Gouye Biram Coumba, an oil painting representing African
myths and beliefs that are essential to Léopold Sédar Senghor and Aimé Césaire’s ideas about Negritude. This painting is still part of my collection. And it was the first stone on which I built my entire collection. It was also the start of my friendship with Joanna Grabski, who has become one of the best specialists of African contemporary art. My collection focuses on one country only: Senegal. It comprises 325 artworks by about 50 artists.
Although my initial intention was to open up the selection to artists from other African countries, I quickly took on the mission to reconstitute the rich cultural history of Senegal. The collection stands at the crossroads of art, history and sociology. I deliberately opted for a vertical reading of art history in one country rather than a horizontal reading that encompasses various countries. Beyond the mere aesthetic component, the collection aims at providing an historical, critical, documented understanding of the major artistic trajectories in Senegal from the 1960s until now.
The collection is becoming more retain only major pieces. It includes well-known names – Iba Ndiaye, Soly Cissé, Ousmane Sow, Seyni Awa Camara, Mor Faye, Viyé Diba, Moustapha Dimé, Ndouts, Fodé Camara –but also lesser known artists, for example the sculptor Djibril André Diop, who will become a safe bet on the market. The total value of the collection is higher than the juxtaposition of the individual values of the artworks because of the collective and historical component, which is difficult to evaluate. The collection includes major artworks as Tabaski – La
Ronde à Qui le Tour? (1970) by Iba Ndiaye, which is regarded as one of the most important African modern art pieces and has been exhibited worldwide for decades.
It also includes rare but less publicized artworks, for example an Indian ink drawing from the 1960s by Ibou Diouf (whose work was shown at the Festival des Arts Nègres in 1966) and about 50 drawings by Alpha Walid Diallo (a Senegalese artist from the Dakar School’s first generation) that represent scenes from historical battles and the great warriors of pre-colonial West Africa. This series of drawings actually documents three centuries of national
I keep on acquiring new artworks. Nowadays, I am looking into Senegalese photography in order to balance the techniques that are represented in the collection. When in Europe, I always visited museums such as the Musée d’Orsay, Musée Marmottan, Centre Pompidou, Tate Modern and Guggenheim Bilbao, and the galleries of the Rue de Seine in Paris. My taste was eclectic, extending from Impressionism to Abstract Expressionism. I was also interested in the exhibitions of traditional African art at Musée Dapper in Paris.
“Artworks from my collection have been shown in exhibitions including ‘Senegalese Art of Today’ at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1974, ‘Short Century’ curated by Okwui Enwezor at MoMA PS1 in New York in 2001, and (…) ‘Africa Remix’ from 2004-2007.’’ | Bassam Chaitou
In 2007, a selection of 130 artworks from my collection was shown at the IFAN Museum of African Arts in Dakar. The exhibition was accompanied by a 200-page catalogue, ‘Trajectories – 40 years of Senegalese contemporary art’,
which is available in universities and museum libraries worldwide. Artworks from my collection have been shown in exhibitions including ‘Senegalese Art of Today’ at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1974, ‘Short Century – Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa’ curated by Okwui Enwezor at MoMA PS1 in New York in 2001, and the traveling exhibition ‘Africa Remix’ from 2004-2007. Another exhibition aiming to present the development of the collection since 2007 is being planned.
I try to act as a pioneer or a researcher. I don’t haunt the galleries and the art fairs because I am looking for things that have not been shown there yet. I like to discover artists before anyone else. So I always meet the artists at their studios or homes. However, I never influence the artist by commissioning pieces.”
Auction houses in Nigeria
Since the Nimbus Art Center organized the first contemporary art auction in Nigeria in 1999, which fetched 22 millions Nairas (US$ 230’000), the local market for contemporary Nigerian art has been burgeoning. In 2013, the Nigerian secondary art market was worth 250 million Nairas (about US$ 1.5 million). ArtHouse Contemporary Limited has been organizing two auctions per year, in May and November, since 2008 and TKMG auction house,
resulting from the merger of Terra Kulture and Mydrim, also organizes a yearly auction sale, now in its seventh
ArtHouse Contemporary Limited was founded in 2007 by Kavita Chellaram, whose goal was to provide a greater transparency of pricing and a wider exposure to the Nigerian and West African art market. Sales have been strong
and steady since the inception. The debut auction in 2008 produced a record sale of 9.2 million Nairas (US$ 77’100) for Bruce Onobrakpeya. More recently, the November 2014 auction made a total sale of US$ 600’000 (including premium). 81 out of 115 lots were sold (70%). It featured artworks spanning from 1955 to 2014, including pieces by El Anatsui, Ben Enwonwu, Yusuf Grillo and Bruce Onobrakpeya.
The ArtHouse auction of November 2014 made a total sale of US$ 600’000 (including premium). 81 out of 115 lots were sold (70%).
Kavita Chellaram also acts as gallerist – she opened a pop-up space in September 2014 where she has already held exhibitions by Kainebi Osahenye and Yusuf Grillo. She plans to open a foundation in Lagos that will host artist residencies.
Bisi Silva, curator, CCA Lagos, Nigeria
Bisi Silva is independent curator and the director and founder of the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos. “The Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (CCA, Lagos) is an independent, non-profit, art institution founded in 2007. One of the leading art organizations in Africa, it was established to provide a plat-form for the development, presentation
and discussion of contemporary art and culture both locally and internationally. In addition to promoting media such as photography, animation, film and video, and performance art, CCA, Lagos also encourages and supports the
professionalization of art and exhibition-making in Nigeria and West Africa, as well as the professional development of emerging curators, writers and researchers.
We are not a museum but more of an alternative art space with an exhibition space and a large library. Each exhibition and program features the work of different artists. Over the past seven years we have shown the works of artists including Ghariokwu Lemi, Ndidi Dike, Lucy Azubuike, Kelani Abass, Jide Alakija, Odun Orimolade and many
more, most of which are featured on our website.
CCA, Lagos exhibits contemporary art from anywhere in the world. However, we do feature predominantly Nigerian artists as well as artists from across Africa and the African Diaspora. In collaborations with other institutions and curators, we have featured artists from around the world. We have a very dynamic and innovative public program that provides a discursive platform for talks, panel discussions, round-tables involving artists, curators, art historians, writers and others. All our exhibitions involve the participation of the presented artists doing talks and
We target the widest audience possible. We want to encourage a diversity of people to engage with our programs and some of the themes that we present. Most of our audience is composed of students from the nearby University of Lagos and the Yaba College of Technology’s School of Art, as well as artists and other art enthusiasts. We don’t target schools in particular because of our limited human resources, but there are some that visit regularly with their students.
CCA, Lagos is interested in going beyond being a commercial gallery providing works for sale. It is positioning itself as a critically and socially engaged institution that explores, through art and culture, some of the topics that are important in our society and the world at large. Initially, there was some reticence to our program especially in its presentation of art forms outside the conventions of painting and sculpture.
From the beginning, we have been adamant about widening the parameters of what contemporary artistic practice could be in Nigeria to include photography, video art, installation, performance art, sound art etc. These art forms are now becoming an integral aspect of the art scene. The biggest deficit that the cultural industry faces in many African countries is the lack of government interest and investment.
“We have moved ahead considerably with new initiatives coming to light regularly and the pace is quickening with some individuals building the much-needed museums to professionalize and give more visibility to the field.’’
Almost every activity happens without government input. Infrastructure and funding come from abroad – mainly
Europe and America. Corporate sponsorship is negligible too. If this situation continues, then it is going to be difficult to witness real, long-term sustainable growth. We have moved ahead considerably with new initiatives coming to light regularly and the pace is quickening with some individuals building the much-needed museums to professionalize and give more visibility to the field.”
Prince Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon, Collector, Nigeria
Prince Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon is the founder of the Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF), which is the largest private collection of art in Nigeria. “My collection includes 7,000 paintings and sculptures, covering antiques, traditional, neo-traditional, modern, and contemporary art. In 2011, we started a program to photo-document the fast-disappearing cultural festivals and other art scenes in Nigeria and West Africa. We regularly lend artworks to museums and universities throughout Nigeria and internationally.
Every year since 2009, our Graduate Fellowship offers an opportunity for international scholars to spend a month
in Lagos to study and research Nigerian visual art and culture (15 guest scholars to date from the US, Austria, Switzerland, and South Africa). We also sponsor touring competitions and workshops, among which the Unilag/Oyasaf workshop organized by artist and lecturer Akin Onipede at the Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos. This workshop aims at providing participating artists with entrepreneurial skills. For the first edition, in 2014, the workshop focused on ceramics, bead and wire works, photography, drawing and experimental art forms, with artist mentors Ato Arinze, Ojetunde Oluseyi, Ayodeji Adewunmi, Boye Ola, Ariyo Oguntimehin, Temilola Marindotin, Adedamola Runsewe and Sola Ogunfuwa.
I started collecting in 1975, when I was a student in Engineering at the University of Ibadan in Western Nigeria and I have been collecting since then. I never stopped. At the foundation, we have all sorts of art in one place, from traditional statuary to contemporary photography. Modern and contemporary art represents about 70% of my collection, the rest being traditional art. I do have works from England, Haiti, Russia, South Africa and Spain – including Salvador Dalí – but non-African art represents only 5% of my collection. With my foundation, I decided to display and promote Nigerian art in Nigeria.
“Every year since 2009, our Graduate Fellowship offers an opportunity for international scholars to spend a month
in Lagos to study and research Nigerian visual art and culture.’’ Prince Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon
I believe that if you want to see Salvador Dalí’s work, you go to Spain. When you come to Nigeria, you should be able to see Nigerian art. We have lent artworks to galleries in Nigeria and museums abroad, whenever there is a need of Nigerian art (recently, an artwork by El Anatsui to the Museum for African Art in New York). In 2013, we donated
18 monumental sculptures to the Freedom Park in Lagos.
I know most of the major artists in Nigeria. Most of my contemporary sculptures are commissions. I have a sculptural garden with about 100 pieces. I stand beside the artists, I am part of the main artist organizations
Art galleries in Abidjan
The Ivorian art galleries landscape is experiencing a rebirth following about 10 difficult years. A few galleries are leading the art scene, including Galerie Arts Pluriels, Galerie Cécile Fakhoury, La Rotonde des Arts Contemporains, Galerie Amani, and Galerie Le Basquiat (directed by artist Jacob Bleu). Art historian Simone Guirandou-N’Diaye is one of the pioneers of the Abidjan art scene. She initiated Galerie Arts Pluriels, the first art residency program of its kind, in 1985. The gallery hosts exhibitions by international artists in art, crafts, sculpture, painting and design.
“My artistic activities during the past 30 years are the result of my conviction that African artists, and Ivorian artists in particular, are worthy of competing at the international level. I created Galerie Arts Pluriels to give Ivorian artists
an opportunity to express their vision of the evolution of society and the world they live in. It contributes to help them to emerge and to be better known.” In 2015, Mrs Guirandou-N’Diaye will open a second gallery in Cocody Mermoz.
In 2012, Cécile Fakhoury, the stepdaughter of Ivorian-Lebanese architect Pierre Fakhoury, opened her gallery in a 600 square-meter space. She represents mostly African artists, including Aboudia from Ivory Coast and Cheikh Ndiaye from Senegal. The gallery features artworks by cutting edge international and African artists and participates
in art fairs abroad. La Rotonde des Arts Contemporains is midway between an art center and a commercial gallery,
directed by art critic and curator Yacouba Konaté, and has been supported by the Nour Al Hayat Foundation
since 2008 (Nour Al Hayat is a supermarket chain in Ivory Coast, owned by the Prosuma Group).
Sokari Douglas Camp, Green Leaf Barrel, 2014. photo: Sylvain Deleu
Sokari Douglas Camp, Green Leaf Barrel, 2014. photo: Sylvain Deleu
Paradoxically, East Africa has less of an active art scene than the other regions of the continent, even though it is the homeland of several contemporary African artists who have gained global recognition including Julie Mehretu, Wangechi Mutu and Georges Lilanga.
The East African country with the best positioning in the arts field is Kenya, where the first independent art agency in East Africa has been established. The Circle Art Agency promotes and supports the contemporary African art market by exhibiting artists and holding auctions. It is also the administrator of The African Arts Trust, founded in 2011 by Robert Devereux, a collector, philanthropist and former partner of Virgin.
In 2013 and 2014, the agency organized the first two auction sales of East African contemporary art. The latest, in November 2014, featured art from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan, dating from 1970 to 2014. The auction grossed KSH 18.8 million (US$ 210,000) and 87% of lots got sold. Also in Kenya, multidisciplinary artist Jimmy Ogonga created the Nairobi Art Trust/Centre for Contemporary Art of East Africa (CCAEA) in 2011.
The organization is committed to developing contemporary art and culture in Eastern Africa. The Changamoto Arts Fund was initiated by the partnership between the Kenya Community Development Foundation and the Go-Down Arts Centre along with funding from the Ford Foundation. This arts fund focuses on building new audiences for the arts while enriching the Kenyan cultural sector and supporting Kenyan artists economically in the areas of theater, dance, music and visual art.
“Paradoxically, East Africa has less of an active art scene than the other regions of the continent, even though it is the homeland of several contemporary African artists who have gained global recognition including Julie Mehretu,
Wangechi Mutu and Georges Lilanga”
Tanzania, which is the homeland of the artist Georges Lilanga, has several innovative initiatives. In Dar es Salaam, the Nafasi Art space, founded in 2010 with the cooperation of the Danish embassy, is dedicated to contemporary creation. It welcomes 15 Tanzanian artists and offers residencies to international artists. The East Africa Biennale
is a non-profit, non-governmental organization launched in January 2003 with headquarters located in the University of Dar es Salaam. It promotes East African artists by diffusing information about their production to stakeholders in the art sector. The biennale exhibits artworks by East African artists and also has a space dedicated to artists from around the world.
by Osei Kofi
Art in East Africa is arguably the most professionalized on the continent, outside South Africa. There is a riot of genres steeped in traditional, modern and avant-garde art; works created in canvas, leather, batik, clay, glass, marble, soft stone, granite and scrap metal; and prints, lithography and photography. Since the birth of contemporary art
in the 1960s, Kenya has led the way for artists across the sub-region.
Nairobi remains a favoured hub for Burundian, Ethiopian, Rwandan, Sudanese, Tanzanian and Ugandan artists to showcase their best works and fetch top prices. Incubative art centres such as the Go Down, Kuona Trust and
the contemporary art sections of the National Museum offer seminars, tutorials, rented studio space, exhibitions, art retreats and residencies. Every year, East African artists depart for residencies, mainly in Europe and North America.
The synergies they acquire abroad are reflected in the professionalism of their work. The vibrancy of art in East Africa rests on the success of three generations of full-time artists, from octogenarian icons to teenagers with chutzpa. Prominent among the old-timers is Jak Katarikawe, a self-taught maestro called ‘Africa’s Chagall’ for his naïve, dreams-infused storytelling. The Ugandan-born Katarikawe is East Africa’s most lauded artist due to the
instant recognizability and bankability of his work. The first African to have a painting in the Kremlin, Katarikawe has exhibited worldwide and won a string of prizes.
Hamburg’s Museum für Volkerkunde alone has a collection of 140 Katarikawes. Its catalogue raisoné on Katarikawe was the first of its kind on an East African artist. Museum commissioners and private collectors are spoilt for choice
in the monumental stone, marble and granite sculptures of Elkana Ong’esa, Gerard Motondi, Samuel Wanjau, John Dianga and Gakunju Kaigwa. They are spoilt for choice in the neo-Chagall aesthetics of Jak Katarikawe, the horror vacui grotesquerie and brutal chronicles of Wanyu Brush and John Yoga; the art brut of Sane Wadu, Eunice Wadu and Francis Kahuri; the pastoral romance of Camille Wekesa, Yoni Waite and Geoffrey Mukasa; the stained glass works of Nani Croze; the spirit-medium renditions of Eduardo Saidi Tingatinga, George Lilanga, Kivuthi Mbuno and Richard Onyango; the modernist socio-politico commentary of Rashid Diab, Maria Kizito Kasule, David Mzuguno, Anne Mwiti, Justus Kyalo, Sophie Walbeoffe, Ssali Yusuf, Anwar Nakibinge, Meek Gichugu, Collin Sekajugo, Peterson
Kamwathi, Samuel Githui, Joseph Bertiers, Michael Soi, Leonard Ngure, Kamau “Cartoon” Joseph – and hundreds of others.
Several galleries sprang up across the region in the early independence years of the 1960s. Most failed to survive. Ruth Schaffner’s Gallery Watatu, which at one time had 150 artists on its books, prospered for over 42 years but closed in 2012 after its owner Adama Diawara died. The RaMoma closed its doors in 2010. In 2013, Circle Art Agency (CAA) emerged from the ashes of Gallery Watatu and the RaMoma with an exciting programme of “pop-up”
art, showcasing in corporate offices and private homes. CAA’s first and second Modern and Contemporary East African Art Auction held in Nairobi in November 2013 and 2014 were hugely attended, with 90% of lots sold each time and grossing US$ 210,000 in 2013 and US$230,000 in 2014.
Although the figures might be paltry by international levels, they mark a promising start. CAA’s success is partly
thanks to the professionalism of its founders, some of whom have experience in the London modern art scene and, more importantly, encouraging business corporations to become interested in arts patronage. Gallery Watatu had struggled unsuccessfully in the 1980s to get banks and other corporate brands to sponsor art auctions. Clearly, the
idea was ahead of its time in East Africa.
“Art patronage remains overwhelmingly expatriate in the region. (…) However, the situation is changing fast as more Africans, both individuals and businesses, begin to seriously collect. Osei Kofi”
Art patronage remains overwhelmingly expatriate in the region. Indigenous Africans constitute, perhaps, 5-10 % of art buyers. However, the situation is changing fast as more Africans, both individuals and businesses, begin to seriously collect. Notable collections of East African contemporary art include those of Jean Pigozzi, Sindika Dokolo,
Isaia Mabellini-Sarenco, Osei G. Kofi, Marc van Rampelberg, Yoshio Ishida, Manu Chandaria, Samuel K. Macharia, Sandeep Desai, Robert Devereux, Patrick Quarcoo, Nani Croze, Elimo Njau, Anthony Athaide, Joydeep Guha, Michael
Drechsler, Jochen Zeitz, Chris Kirubi, Andrew Njoroge, Mary Collis, Paul Kavuma, and Tony Wainaina.
George Hughes, Scream, 2010
Fondation Alliances, Morocco
Alami Lazraq founded Groupe Alliances, the real estate development company, in 1994. The largest constructor of hotels in Morocco, the group has also diversified in low-income housing and has expanded outside of Morocco in Ivory Coast and Senegal. An architect by training, Mr Lazraq owns a collection of about 2000 contemporary art pieces, mostly from Morocco and the rest of Africa.
He is also interested in international art, Chinese art in particular. Foundation Alliances, a foundation backed by Groupe Alliances, supports economic, social and cultural development in the Kingdom of Morocco in the fields of solidarity, culture and health. In the arts field, Fondation Alliances financed and created the Al Maaden Sculpture Park within the Al Maaden Golf Resort, at the foot of the Atlas mountains near Marrakech.
The first monumental sculpture park in Africa, it features 12 commissioned sculptures by artists from Morocco (Mahi Binebine, Hassan Darsi, Adiba Mkinsi), Egypt (Moataz Nasr), Algeria (Yazid Oulab), Argentina (Antonio Seguí), India (Sunil Gawde), France (Claude Gilli, Philippe Hiquily, Daniel Hourdé), China (Wang Keping) and Canada (Jean Brillant). Fondation Alliances also promotes emerging creation through its Camera Lucida biannual exhibition of emerging photography.
The Fondation Alliances plans to open a contemporary African art museum in 2017 that will occupy a 7500 square meter space in Marrakech, with an estimated budget of US$ 27 million.
The foundation plans to open a contemporary African art museum in 2017 that will occupy a 7500 square meter pace in Marrakech, with an estimated budget of € 20 million (US$ 27 million). “This museum will be accessible to all audiences, especially the youth, and will offer an important cultural mediation programme –an initiative in line with the transmission, sharing and proximity values conveyed by the Fondation Alliances’’, says Alexandra Balafrej, Fondation Alliances general director.
CMOOA, auction house, Morocco
The Compagnie Marocaine des Oeuvres et Objets d’Art (CMOOA, Moroccan Company of Art Works and Items) is the first auction house in Morocco. It was founded in 2002 by Hicham Daoudi, who is also the president and CEO of Art
Holding Morocco (AHM). In May 2014, the CMOOA recorded the worldwide auction record for Moroccan art, with an
oil painting by Ahmed Cherkaoui, which sold for 3.5 million dirham (US$ 430,000).
The CMOOA auction sales feature mainly Orientalist and Moroccan painting. It has participated in raising the rating of national artists. In 2005, it recorded its first auction sale above 1 million dirham (US$ 120,000), for an artwork by
Jacques Majorelle. In May 2014, it recorded the worldwide auction record for Moroccan art, with an oil painting by Ahmed Cherkaoui, which sold for 3.5 million dirham (US$ 430,000). AHM is dedicated to promoting contemporary art from Morocco through initiatives such as the Diptyk magazine (featuring contemporary art in Morocco and the
Arab world) and the Marrakech Art Fair, which took place in 2010 and 2011. In 2011, through AHM, Mr Daoudi convinced local patrons to give an annual € 150,000 grant (US$ 200’000) for three years to the Centre Pompidou in Paris toward the acquisition of artworks by artists from the Maghreb.
In 2011, through AHM, Hicham Daoudi convinced local patrons to give an annual € 150,000 grant (US$ 200’000) for three years to the Centre Pompidou in Paris toward the acquisition of artworks by artists from the Maghreb.
Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Morocco
Inaugurated by His Majesty King Mohammed VI in Rabat in 2014, the Musée Mohammed VI d’Art Moderne & Contemporain (MMVI) is the first museum entirely dedicated to modern and contemporary art in Morocco. In a new building of classical Andalusian style with state-of-the-art facilities, the museum traces the development of Moroccan visual arts from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. Budgeted at € 17 million, the project took 10 years to complete. The inaugural exhibition, presented for six months, was titled ‘1914-2014 : 100 Years of Creation’ and featured 400 artworks by 150 Moroccan artists, including Farid Belkahia, Mohamed Chabâa, Mohamed Kacimi, Chaïbia Talal and Hassan El Glaoui.
Hassan Hajjaj artist, Morocco
Photographer Hassan Hajjaj was born in Larache, Morocco, in 1961. He moved to London at an early age, and now splits his time between London and Marrakech. “In the last few decades, there has definitely been a change on the
African art scene, within Africa and outside Africa. There is still a lot to do, but there has been a lot of light, interest, and a trend on Africa from outside. I hope it is not just a passing phase as we are here to stay. For me, the 2005 Africa Remix, curated by Simon Njami, opened doors, and my work got shown in established museums. Shows like
the African Photography Encounters in Bamako, and people like Simon Njami, among other African curators, have helped the new scene of African artists.
When museums outside Africa take interest in an African artist, the artist gets more recognition and is taken more seriously in the West. It can open more doors around the globe. My expectations for the cultural future of African countries are positive, but there is still a lot of work to do. We should try to make it even better for the next generation
The most mature market for contemporary art in Africa is South Africa, which in many ways reflects the stability of its economy. The country has a multitude of collaborative artist studios, artist-run spaces, schools and universities for artists and art historians, century-old and recently-founded art galleries,
private collections and stateof-the-art museums. An ever-larger number of artists and critics from
South Africa have achieved international recognition in the past 20 years.
“South Africa had a noticeable presence at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.”
South Africa had a noticeable presence at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. Besides the South African
Pavilion curated by Brenton Maart, Santu Mofokeng’s photographs were exhibited next to Ai Weiwei’s
work in the German pavilion. In addition, South African Nobel Prize winner John Maxwell Coetzee curated the Belgian pavilion, which was dedicated to Flemish artist Berlinde De Bruyckere.
The South African art scene began to flourish during the apartheid era and exploded in the 1990s. In
1995, the first Johannesburg biennial, Africus, curated by Lorna Ferguson and Christopher Till, was the
symbol of this coming-of-age at an international level. Today, a generation of established artists such as William Kentridge, David Goldblatt, Marlene Dumas, Candice Breitz, Kendell Geers and Irma Stern
share the spotlight with younger contenders such as Zanele Muholi and Billie Zangewa.
“The most mature market for contemporary art in Africa is South Africa, which in many ways reflects
the stability of its economy”
The institutional system in South Africa is based on the European model where the state supports the arts. Unfortunately, the recent economic downturn has seen the public support fade and several art
galleries, art schools and non-profit organizations collapse. Consequently, the commercial galleries
became far more involved in supporting art production, museum exhibitions and catalogues.
Among the commercial galleries, the oldest one is Everard Read (established in Johannesburg in 1913), which represents well-established modern and contemporary artists such as Irma Stern, Jacob Heindrik Pierneef and photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa. The Goodman Gallery was founded by activist and philanthropist Linda Goodman in 1966. Now owned by Liza Essers, the gallery represents over 40 South African and international artists and has been participating in art fairs including Art Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach since 2003. Stevenson Gallery, Gallery MOMO, Brundyn+, WhatIfTheWorld and Blank Projects constitute the younger generation of contemporary art galleries launched in 2000-2010.
Art from the 19th and 20th century up to contemporary, is found at Graham’s Fine Art Gallery, while
David Krut Projects encompasses an experimental print workshop, a bookstore and a gallery space.
This commercial scene contributes towards providing advice to a growing number of collectors in
In addition to the art dealers and galleries, local auction houses – mainly Stephan Welz & Company
Limited and Strauss & Co – cover the secondary market. Founded in 1968 by Stephen Welz and then resold, Stephan Welz & Co is South Africa’s longest-established auction house with salesrooms in Cape Town and Johannesburg. It has achieved several record prices for South African artists including William Kentridge, Ephraim Ngatane and Cecil Skotnes.
“Two “boutique” art fairs, FNB Joburg Art Fair and Cape Town Art Fair, also drive the modern and
contemporary art market.”
Two “boutique” art fairs, FNB Joburg Art Fair and Cape Town Art Fair, also drive the modern and
contemporary art market. Other fairs include Design Indaba, which is dedicated to design, and Turbine
Art Fair, which focuses on more affordable artworks (below 30,000 rands or US$ 2,600). The newest
venture is That Art Fair, an art fair focusing on younger audiences and collectors that will be launched
in 2015 alongside Cape Town Art Fair.
Private and corporate collections show the strength of the private art sector in South Africa. The Zeitz
Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) will open at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town in
2017. It is a US$ 120 million public-private partnership between German collector Jochen Zeitz and
the V&A. It will spread through the nine floors of the historic Grain Silo building redesigned by British
architect Thomas Heatherwick.
Jochen Zeitz commits his collection in perpetuity, underwrites the museum’s running costs and provides an acquisition budget. According to Zeitz MOCAA’s executive director and chief curator Mark Coetzee (former director of the Rubell Family Collection in Miami), the funds were raised in six weeks and the permanent collection is being assembled at the pace of 80 to 150 acquisitions per month.
The Spier Collection is another extensive private collection and a dynamic actor of the South African
art scene. On a smaller scale, there is the New Church Museum, which opened in 2012 thanks to art collector Piet Viljoen who committed his collection of 400 artworks in perpetuity. South African businessman and art collector Gordon Schachat also intends to open a private museum in the near future.
Sixteen universities across the country have Master and PhD level art education. They often have their
own exhibition spaces, including the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery and Substation at the Wits
School of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. A plethora of non-profit organizations
stimulate the visual arts communities of the main cities, encouraging professionalism and providing studio spaces, residency programs and workshops.
Prominent museums range from the Johannesburg Art Gallery, established in 1910 to the very recent
Museum of African Design (MOAD). The latter is a multi-disciplinary exhibition and performance space housed in a 1500 square-meter factory warehouse from the 1920s, with 15 meter-high ceilings, and an on-site workshop for artist and artisan collaborations.
While Angola does not appear as well established as South Africa, its capital boasts one of the biggest
collection of African Art on African soil. The Sindika Dokolo Foundation was created in 2004 in Luanda,
Angola, by the Danish-Congolese businessman and art lover Sindika Dokolo and the Angolan artist Fernando Alvim. The purpose of the Sindika Dokolo African Collection of Contemporary Art is to keep African art on the African continent. In 2005, Sindika Dokolo bought the collection of the German collector ans Bogatzke, which represents a quarter of his collection today.
The foundation collaborates with Western museums to increase the visibility of African countries abroad. The collection has been shown in several international fairs and exhibitions, such as the ‘Africa Remix’ traveling exhibition between 2004 and 2007 and the African Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2007.
Spier Arts Trust, South Africa
Spier is an award-winning wine estate, located 50 km from Cape Town and owned by the investment
holding company Yellowwoods. Since 1996, the group’s main community social investment has been
in the visual and performing arts. Spier owns one of the most extensive contemporary art collections
in South Africa, which is exhibited in the group’s premises on a yearly rotational basis. The Spier Arts
Trust’s initiatives include the Spier Arts Academy, whose founding director is Jeanetta Blignaut, the
Creative Block project and Spier Films, all of which aim to support South Africa’s arts community.
The Artist Patronage Programme provides support over a four or five-year period to artists in order
to give them creative freedom. Selected artists include Wim Botha, Paul Emmanuel, Tamlin Blake and
Fred Scott, Stephan Welz & Co., South Africa
Dr Fred Scott, a specialist in modern and contemporary art, is head of the Fine Art department at Stephan Welz & Co. “Historically, South Africa formed the hub of the art market in Africa. The wealth created through the early diamond and gold mining brought the culture of art collecting to South
Africa. Besides a few art galleries and auction houses throughout the country, the launch of Sotheby’s
offices in Johannesburg in 1968 further stimulated the collecting of fine art amongst the South African
public. Contemporary South African art has traditionally been sold through art galleries and recently
through art fairs in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Galleries such as Goodman, Stevenson, WhatIf-
TheWorld, MOMO, Afronova and Christopher Møller making special efforts to introduce the work of
contemporary artists from the African continent into South Africa.
Although operating in the secondary market, the major auction houses like Stephan Welz and Co, Strauss and Co, as well as Bonhams in the UK, are actively sourcing contemporary African art and promoting it by publishing it in their catalogues. Besides purchasing from galleries throughout the African continent, direct transactions with artists via the internet are also creating opportunities for collectors.
“Historically, South Africa formed the hub of the art market in Africa. The wealth created through the
early diamond and gold mining brought the culture of art collecting to South Africa.” Fred Scott
Any shift towards Nigeria would depend on the region’s economic stability. Political and religious turmoil may also be stumbling blocks, preventing Nigeria from taking over the lead as the art powerhouse of contemporary African art.
What could be the main threats to the future of the African contemporary art market?
The creation of an artificial bubble when works lacking real artistic quality are indiscriminately pushed
into the market due to the current hype surrounding contemporary African art could damage an artist’s
market value in the long term. To counter this, advice from reputable galleries and curators should
be considered in order that trust in respect of the worth and excellence of art emanating out of Africa is
maintained. One wonders whether the Ebola epidemic and fear surrounding it could become a factor, hampering sales, growth and the movement of art out of Africa.
What are the most important event(s) for the African contemporary art market in 2015?
2015 kicks off with the 3rd Cape Town Art Fair organized by the leading global exhibition group, Fiera
Milano. The fairs in Johannesburg and Cape Town as well as the UK’s 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair promise to offer more exciting African contemporary artworks. Following in the footsteps of the
newly opened Fondation Zinsou museum in Ouidah, Benin, dedicated to contemporary African art
in sub-Saharan Africa, the launch of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art was announced
in Cape Town. Before it opens in 2016, a selection of works from the Zeitz collection will be on display at a temporary exhibition space in the vicinity of the new museum. These exiting movements will no doubt increase awareness of contemporary African art on the continent.
“It was recently announced that the Nigerian economy became Africa’s largest economy and portions of the newly created wealth is being channeled towards purchasing contemporary art. This is evident from the 22% growth in art sales. ” Fred Scott
What is the volume of transactions on the African contemporary art market? Why is it still small in comparison to other emerging markets like the Middle East, Latin America and China? It was recently announced that the Nigerian economy became Africa’s largest economy and portions of the newly created wealth is being channelled towards purchasing contemporary art. This is evident from the 22% growth in art sales.
There is growing interest in Nigerian art from countries besides Nigeria. While the South African art market is estimated at around 150 million USD, it makes up only a very small fraction of the total global art market. The Nigerian art market is in a similar situation. An under-developed collecting culture, as well as the perception that art collecting is elitist and only for the wealthy, contribute to the fact that these markets remain small.
Sales for Bonhams in Africa in May 2014 raised US$1.9 million, up 47% from 2013. According to the
Deloitte’s Art and Finance Report 2014, the increase of wealthy individuals, as well as growth of the
African art market, has created a new generation of African collectors who are acquiring art as an
asset class. This is creating possibilities for a future art and finance industry as the African art market
matures. It is being speculated that the Nigerian art market is set to take on the more established South
African art market in the next 12 months.
Emma Bedford, Strauss & Co, Cape Town, South Africa
Emma Bedford is senior art specialist at Strauss & Co, South Africa’s leading fine art auction house in
Cape Town “It is impossible to quantify the volume of transactions in the African modern and contemporary art market as we do not have statistics from across the continent where in many
countries galleries and auction houses are thriving. However, we do know that in 2014 Strauss & Co
took the lead in the secondary market for modern and contemporary South African art having secured
52.2% of the market as against the biggest London competitor (34.2%) and the biggest local competitor
(13.6%). With four auctions per annum alternating between Cape Town and Johannesburg, Strauss
& Co’s annual turnover is in the region of 200 million rands (US$ 17.3 million).
While this may not seem that large in comparison to other international markets, there is no doubt that interest in contemporary African art is growing exponentially with local and international collectors keen to buy into this market. African economies are predicted to boom, raising the prospects of what some pundits have called the ‘African lion’ emulating the ‘Asian tiger’. With increasing prosperity comes the desire to diversify assets and invest in culture. We are witnessing a hunger for contemporary art fueled by the interests and passions of a new generation of collectors.
There are a number of significant drivers contributing to the growing interest in contemporary African art. Rapid globalization has brought increased possibilities for travel and the exchange of ideas. We see ourselves as global citizens: we attend Documentas, biennales and art fairs around the world. African-born artists, curators and intellectuals are studying, living and working abroad – many in key positions. Remember that it was a South African artist, Marlene Dumas, who commanded the highest price ever paid for a living female artist at auction when her painting, The Teacher (Sub A), 1987, fetched US$ 3.34 million in 2005.
“In 2014 Strauss & Co took the lead in the secondary market for modern and contemporary South African art having secured 52.2% of the market as against the biggest London competitor (34.2%) and the biggest local competitor (13.6%).” Emma Bedford
Leading African intellectuals such as Okwui Enwezor are playing a vital role in defining our understanding of contemporary art. All eyes are on the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz
MOCAA) which, under executive director and chief curator Mark Coetzee, will redefine contemporary
African art for local and global audiences through exhibitions at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town
and that will tour internationally.
Designed by the London-based architect Thomas Heatherwick, the building will have its soft opening
in late 2016 and formal opening in early 2017. However, cutting-edge exhibitions are already taking place in the Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion and surrounds, contemporary art appetites for what is to come.
The calibre of African artists and the quality of their art has seen a phenomenal growth of interest in
contemporary African art and artists from their inclusion in major museum and gallery exhibitions to
international public and private collections.
Strauss & Co’s auctions are inspiring increased confidence in the modern and contemporary African art
market as collectors perceive that there is a strong secondary market for quality art with impeccable
provenance, exhibition history and literature. An exponential growth in the South African contemporary
art market over the last few years has seen record-breaking prices achieved for a rare Jane Alexander
sculpture (5.5 million rands/ US$ 513,970), a significant Wim Botha sculpture (966,280 rands/ US$ 90,300), a Robert Hodgins composite painting (1.8 million rands/US$ 168,210), two early William Kentridge drawings (4.1 million rands/US$ 383,140 and 3.1 million rands/US$ 289,690), a Sydney Kumalo sculpture (1.4 million rands/ US$ 130,830), a Penny Siopis early pastel drawing (668,400 rands/US$ 62,460) and a Lucas Sithole sculpture (946,900 rands/US$ 88,490). Further boosting
market confidence, most of these artists had 100% sell-through rates.
Younger artists such as Zimbabwe-born Kudzanai Chiurai and Swaziland-born Nandipha Mntambo also performed well while Ethiopia-born, US-based Julie Mehretu has had her work snapped up by an astute collector. Almost all the works of art on offer at Strauss & Co’s auctions are by African-born or based artists and about 95% were produced between the mid-twentieth century and the present day.”
Musha Neluheni, Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa
Musha Neluheni is the curator for contemporary collections at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. “The Johannesburg Art Gallery has approximately 10 000 pieces in its collections. The four major collections are the Historical Collection, Contemporary Collection, Prints and works on paper, and the Traditional Southern African Collection. We have minor collections of ceramics and textiles. The collections policy of the Johannesburg Art Gallery currently focuses on traditional and contemporary Southern African works. We do however make exceptions to pieces of historical relevance should the artist be missing from the collection.
We usually have at least four exhibitions per annum that draw from our collection, and the rest of the exhibitions feature South African and international contemporary artists. We exhibit artists from all over the world should we accept their proposal. We do however only purchase African modern, contemporary and traditional art. This is to correct imbalances of the past in which very little African art was purchased.
As a public museum, our target is the general public. The museum was left to the City of Johannesburg and its people; therefore we are a free public museum open to the public. The public’s response to the exhibitions differs for different audiences. Some prefer the Historical collection, especially the schools as these works are in their curriculum. But the younger professionals prefer Contemporary art. Our foreign visitors enjoy the
Traditional Southern African collections. Johannesburg is a very cosmopolitan city with such a diverse
audience. We therefore try to be representative of all our collections at any given time.
I think that exhibiting a collection is a way of promoting culture in Africa. Any cultural activity be it art, dance or theatre will assist in promoting culture in any country. Africa as a continent has a long and ingrained cultural history that predates most modern civilisations. I think African countries are starting to regain that history
and embrace it. African artists for a long time focused on what the West was doing as a benchmark for their cultural expression and we have seen that turning around. African artists are really looking internally at an African expression, which has reinvigorated the African cultural landscape.
It really excites me that South Africa and other African countries are once again at the 56th Venice Biennale. It’s a great honour for our young and established South African artists to be able to exhibit on large international platforms. Not only are these artists gaining experience but they are showcasing the depth and broadness of African culture to the world.”
Sindika Dokolo, collector, Angola
Art collector and businessman Sindika Dokolo was born in Kinshasa in 1972. Based in Luanda, Angola, the Sindika Dokolo Foundation has thrived to implement cultural, economic and political mechanisms Interview
Sindika Dokolo, collector, Angola for the development of contemporary African art. The foundation has promoted cultural events and festivals in Luanda, produced the first Triennial of Luanda and organized the first African pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale.
“I started collecting at an early age, thanks to my parents. Without being compulsive collectors, like I’ve become, my parents have always possessed an unquestionable and eclectic taste. I grew up surrounded by objects from different worlds. In our home, Degas paintings were hung alongside 18th century Kongo kingdom Ntadi stone statues, Ming dynasty china and American design pieces from the 1950s. There was no dilemma
about mixing Louis XV bergères [upholstered French armchairs] with Scandinavian coffee tables.
What counted was the inner quality of each object and a confident sense of the aesthetic in matching the pieces in a coherent and beautiful way. I was probably around 10 years old when my father gave me my first art piece, which was a Tshokwe anthropomorphic ceremonial axe and he encouraged me to look, touch and learn. With my own four children who are between 14 and 6, each one has received a work that I thought would correspond to their character and taste. Children should get a chance to engage with art at an early age, in the same way that they should to be exposed to a foreign language at an age when learning comes with little effort.
I kept around 400 pieces from the Hans Bogatz collection that I acquired 12 years ago. I bought around 1,500 works from the photographic collection of La Revue Noire in 2010 and over the past 10 years I have acquired, co-produced and commissioned many artworks. I don’t waste time counting as I believe a collection cannot
be appreciated by the number of works but rather by its contextual relevance. For more than a decade now, the collection has been an obsession and fascination for me; my ambition is for it to illustrate, in a sensitive and intelligent way, art on the African continent at the turn of the 21st century.
The exhibition Magiciens de la Terre was a fire starter for the market in the 1990s. The market is growing steadily and it is important that it grows structurally and not just conjecturally based on trends. We desperately need more African collectors or even just occasional buyers in order to give the market a solid basis on which to grow and expand. The 52nd Venice Biennale mainly had an impact on African curators and young African artists and contributed to a general feeling of self-confidence and self-reliance.
“The exhibition Magiciens de la Terre was a fire starter for the market in the 1990s.” Sindika Dokolo
My art foundation has an informal acquisition committee which consists of Paris-based, Cameroonian
curator Simon Njami and Angolan artist and curator Fernando Alvim. We have all been friends for a long time and our appreciation of new artists and taste often match. I also work with art consultant Eve Therond who is based in New York. She travels around the world in search of new talent. She recently went to Uganda, where she found a young artist called Paul Ndema whose work we acquired for the collection. As a collector, what interests me is ‘Africanity’ looking at the African contribution to global aesthetics. I am not interested in origin, skin colour or nationality.
They are irrelevant as far as my collection is concerned. This is why I integrated Warhol and Basquiat in the Luanda Pop show and asked my friend, the Spanish artist Miquel Barceló to inaugurate the African Pavilion at the Venice Biennale with me. The approach of collecting only black artists or artists from certain regions is to me anti-artistic and turns a collection into an anecdotal accumulation of objects. The works become a cabinet of curiosities and kills the elegance and the pertinence of the point of view, it is an unintelligent classification.
The real added value of an African collection of art is to expose the African audience to its own contemporary creation. It is a moral and political responsibility and an effort must be made so that our continent is more integrated in the art world circuits. Therefore, I decided early on that my collection would always be available for free…
“The real added value of an African collection of art is to expose the African audience to its own contemporary creation.” Sindika Dokolo
…for any museum around the world who would be interested in hosting an exhibition. However, I have one
demand in that the museum has the obligation to organize the same exhibition in an African country of its choice. We cannot just accept that African art will never be seen in Africa because our continent is still poor and focused on its primordial needs.”
Malick Sidibé, Soirée des Frangins, 1966
In Central Africa, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo alone concentrate the private and public initiatives in the art field. In Cameroon, socio-economist Marilyn Douala Bell and her late husband, the historian Didier Shaub, created Doual’art in 1991. A non-profit organization, Doual’art aims to support contemporary art
in Cameroon as well as Douala’s culture and urban identity through exhibitions, workshops and seminars.
Since 2007, Doual’art has been organizing SUD: Salon Urbain de Douala, a triennial around art in public space. Other initiatives come from the artists. In 2013, Barthélémy Toguo created Bandjoun Station, a visual arts center
and creative workshop located in Bandjoun, 200 km North of Douala.
The Democratic Republic of Congo was the breeding ground of several artists affiliated with the Kinshasa School, including Chéri Samba, Chéri Cherin and Moké. Like in Cameroon, the leading artists of DRC have launched various ventures to support their fellow artists.
In 2008, photographer Sammy Baloji initiated the art biennale Rencontres Picha and supports the development of visual arts, music and literature locally. Since 2012, Ateliers Sahms, created by artist Bill Kouélany in Brazzaville, has offered exhibitions, seminars and artistic workshops.
by Lionel Manga
“On September 11th, 2014 in London, the Jack Bell gallery opened an exhibition by Boris Nzebo, a name to remember. Boris Nzebo is the latest newcomer on the visual art scene of Cameroon, home to the elusive Pascale Marthine Tayou. He had his first solo show in 2013, and the next stop for him will be Miami. The mischievous
Boris Nzebo has some prestigious predecessors at home: Koko Komégné, Ahanda Jean Marie, Hervé Yamguen, Salifou Lindou, Joseph Francis Sumégné, Joël Mpah Dooh, Justine Gaga, Hako Hanson, Max Lyonga, Hervé Youmbi, Emile Youmbi & Co.
Year after year, this group gets the growing attention of an array of buyers from various parts of the world. In fact,
a few of these artists already manage to make a living out of their art. Today, Cameroon is the home of less than fifty known collectors. Two venues are dedicated to art exhibitions, far away from the hustle and bustle: the MAM gallery, owned by Marème Malong, and Espace Doual’Art. They respond to the recent appetite for contemporary
art through thick and thin, with an energy full of passion. Since 2007, the valiant “musketeer” Didier Schaub and his “lady love” Marylin Douala Bell have been organizing a triennial art festival, the Salon Urbain de Douala. As part of this green-red-yellow enthusiasm, Barthélémy Toguo has rooted his new art centre, the Badjoun Station, located in Cameroon Grasslands.
Marc Stanes, Museum of Modern Art, Equatorial Guinea
Marc Stanes is the Director of the Museum of Modern Art in Equatorial Guinea. He also separately curates and advises for individuals, galleries and corporations. “At present we have over 100 artworks in the collection. We
predominately collect works from across the continent or artists who have a historic link to Africa. On the whole, we are collecting young and emerging talents but not excluding historic pieces or older artists who have a direct influence on today’s creators. We exhibit and collect historic pieces (often carved items) as they continue to have both a contemporary and historic role in shaping and influencing young artists on the continent.The collection is about quality and stimulating interest.
The collection is only three years old, so we do not have an ongoing exhibitions program. We do however exhibit at various fairs and loan to other institutions in order to utilize the collection. Every time we have exhibited parts of the collection, the response and the interest have been extraordinary. We have a strong association with
Zimbabwean artist Richard Mudariki, but also Zemba Luzamba from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Placido Guimaraes from Equatorial Guinea.
“There is already a trickle down effect with many young artists being able to support themselves through their expression and being able to access the international market, which is certainly taking notice.” Mark Stanes
In Africa, there has to be a dialogue between corporate collections and public institutions. Any art collection and its related exhibitions will help promote the African culture and awareness of the African artistic expression. Our museum is funded by corporate partners for public consumption. Judging by the ongoing international awareness of institutions and collectors of contemporary (and historic) artistic expression of the African continent, and the emergence of art fairs showcasing this talent, I can only see a positive cultural future.
There is already a trickle down effect with many young artists being able to support themselves through their expression and being able to access the international market, which is certainly taking notice.”
E. S. Tingatinga, Life Struggle, 1969
Out of Africa
2014 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of ‘Magiciens de la Terre’, a one-of-a-kind exhibition that tremendously widened the spectrum of contemporary art. What has changed in the careers of the African artists whose work you included in the exhibition?
The exhibition ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ has not impacted on the careers of all the artists in the same way. For some, nothing much changed: they continued making artworks for their communities and occasionally sent a piece abroad or had an exhibition in a foreign gallery. For others, the exhibition entailed a drastic change, propelling them into the centre of the international contemporary art scene and its intellectual and financial market. Chéri Samba, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré and Bodys Isek Kingelez all entered the art market.
They grasped its rules and adapted to make the most of it. Other artists participated in exhibitions from time to time. When invited to take part in exhibitions, Cyprien Tokoudagba, Sunday Jack Akpan and Esther Mahlangu made artworks on site, preferring to make artworks that were often ephemeral and receiving an artist’s fee. Twin Seven Seven, Seth Kane Kwei, Paa Joe, Seyni Awa Camara and Henry Munyaradzi went on selling in their usual networks, outside of the prescribing network of the major international art galleries. For others like Agbagli Kossi, John Fundi or mask-makers Dossou Amidou and Chief Mark Unya, the exhibition did not seem to influence their activity.
How would you describe the impact of important museum exhibitions on the artists’ careers and their markets?
This depends on the artists themselves. Being part of an international exhibition is only a springboard that artists can use to develop a communication and marketing strategy. Not all artists want or have the intellectual inclination to do so. Entering the international market requires energy, ambition and a good understanding of media and commercial strategies, not withstanding time-consuming travel in order to attend art events. Chéri Samba, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré and Bodys Isek Kingelez took advantage of the art market and gained international recognition.
In your opinion, what distinguishes the African modern and contemporary art from the other art scenes?
The main difference between the African art scene and other emerging ones is the economy. Brazil, Russia, India and China are all seeing a growing interest in their national art scenes and collectors from these countries support their
local art scene. This is not the case in Africa, except for Morocco, Egypt and South Africa. Also Dak’Art, the Dakar Biennale in Senegal, is a major event. However, Western countries express interest in Africa. The media like covering a positive side of Africa, instead of its political or humanitarian catastrophes. It is also a chance for museums outside
Africa to organize exhibitions that do not depend on the prevailing art market and that can appeal to the public.
Have you noticed any changes in the contemporary art scene in Africa over the past few years?
Thanks to the internet, the African art scene has dramatically changed in the past few years. More and more artists are tackling social issues through photography, video and installation art, borrowing the methods and processes of Western artists. That way, they fit an existing mould. They respond to the market’s demand, as well as the intellectual tendency of the curators that want to include African artists in their exhibitions. This game of offer and demand still excludes many artists who work for their communities and are unconcerned about the art system and its networks. One day, this aspect of reality will have to be taken into account but in order to meet those artists one has to travel, sometimes in uncomfortable conditions, take the time and overcome the bias of the contemporary art milieu.
What helps to promote modern and contemporary African art?
Traveling in Africa in order to meet as many artists as possible, helping them to enter the art market if they wish to, and not forcing them if they don’t; organizing exhibitions in Africa that attract enough attention from the media both in Africa and in the Western countries; and helping to build art scenes in Africa that will provide a context and an infrastructure
to support local artists.
What are your cultural expectations for African countries in the future?
The possibility to develop an art scene that will not be adapted from the Western world, but that will demonstrate the specificities and the uniqueness of Africa, primarily dedicated to the African audience.
The main difference between the African art scene and other emerging ones is the economy. (…) Thanks to the internet, the African art scene has dramatically changed in the past few years.” Jean-Hubert Martin
Alistair Hicks art advisor, Deutsche Bank
Based in London, Alistair Hicks is art advisor to Deutsche Bank and curator of the bank’s art collection. He is the author of The Global Art Compass: New Directions in 21st-Century Art (Thames & Hudson, 2014) and Art Works: British and German Contemporary Art 1960-2000 (Merrell Publishers, 2000). “Most of the artists that we have in the Deutsche Bank collection talk about breaking down boundaries and offering new horizons. They draw new perspectives on what’s happening rather than give a nationalistic approach. That is why I don’t like to talk about regional divisions of the international art market.
That said, I think the African continent is an area of the world that needs more attention, because people are really interested in it and things will definitely be happening more there. You can see a tremendous excitement in Nigeria. It is where things are changing that art becomes interesting. I talk to the Deutsche Bank clients about artists from all over the world. We advise several collectors from the African continent as well as collectors from elsewhere who are interested in African contemporary art.
I am in touch with galleries in Africa, but I am looking to make greater connections. My belief is that art is about change. In the past five to ten years, I have been looking at African contemporary art far more than before. That does not only reflect a trend in the market. It is also a specific interest that I have developed because I was writing the book ‘The Global Art Compass: New Directions in 21st-Century Art’ and we, at Deutsche Bank, were doing a survey in order to rename the floors of the bank’s group head office after artists from around the world.
We have named floors after Wangechi Mutu, Samuel Fosso, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Zohra Bensemra and Yto Barrada. In the frame of Deutsche Guggenheim, a program of exhibitions organized in close collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum from 2007 to 2012, we have done two major shows with Julie Mehretu (October 2009-January 2010) and Wangechi Mutu (April-June 2010). More recently, we have been buying the works of Kader Attia. I am also interested
in Marcia Kure’s work.
I would not like to make sweeping statements about African contemporary art but one sees certain trends. The sense of identity is fascinating for me and the way the self is not always betrayed in this sort of Cartesian idea of the ego, like in…
“I think the African continent is an area of the world that needs more attention, because people are really interested in it and things will definitely be happening more there.” Alistair Hicks
…self-centered, Western cultures. It is a different sense of self that I see in quite a few artists from Africa. But that’s my outsider’s point of view. What excites me is that sort of energy, the energy that is happening in different places of Africa.”
Christopher Spring, curator of Northeast, East and South Africa at the British Museum, UK
Christopher Spring is the curator of the Sainsbury African Galleries of the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas (AOA) at the British Museum, London. He specializes in contemporary art, textiles, arms and armor, and in the region of Eastern and Southern Africa. Recent publications include Angaza Afrika: ‘African Art Now’ (2008), ‘African Art in Detail’ (2009), ‘African Textiles Today’ (2012), and ‘Art, Africa: Changing the Picture’ (2016-in preparation).
“The collection of the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas includes around 350,000 objects, representing the cultures of the indigenous peoples of four continents. There are approximately 300 individual works which are described as contemporary art in the collection’s database. We do not collect across the board in the area of contemporary art in the way that a museum such as Tate Modern could, in theory, attempt to do. Instead we try to acquire the work of artists of African heritage inspired, informed or simply commenting upon African cultural traditions, and whose work can both illuminate and be illuminated by the historical works of art in our collections.
Currently, outstanding work by more than 20 contemporary artists of African descent are to be found throughout the African Galleries, in effect mediating the displays and allowing the curatorial voice to fade into the background. These works represent both the independent voices of individual artists, but also dynamic contemporary standard bearers for long-established traditions which were once portrayed in museums as frozen in time, rather than as living traditions with a vibrant present as well as a distant past.
Currently on display in the African Galleries are works by the following artists: Ann Gollifer, Peterson Kamwathi, Magdalene Odundo, Susan Hefuna, El Anat- sui, Cristovao Canhavato (Kester), Sokari Douglas Camp, Mohamedi Charinda, Gérard Quenum, Fiel dos Santos, Taslim Martin, George Lilanga, Rachid Koraïchi, Khaled Ben Sliman, Robino Ntila.
Currently no funds are specifical- ly allocated to the acquisition of contemporary African art; instead we approach individual funding bo- dies such as the Art Fund when we wish to acquire new works.
In addition, the following artists have been on display in the African Galleries or elsewhere in the Briti- sh Museum, or their works loaned out to other museums and galle- ries around the world: Romuald Hazoumé (‘La Bouche du Roi’ tou- ring exhibition), Atta Kwami, Nja Mahdaoui, Georgia Papageorge, Osi Audu, Chant Avedissian, Rai- mi Gbadamosi, Ibrahim el-Sala- hi, Owusu-Ankomah, Mohamed Bushara, Chéri Samba.
The contemporary art scene in Africa and in ‘global Africa’ is thri- ving, and although it is still easier to make and sell work in some parts of Africa than in others, there’s a lively – and growing – contem- porary art scene in most African countries today. Outside Africa the appetite for contemporary art is growing rapidly. New galleries are opening all the time (certainly in London). The 1:54 Contempo- rary African Art Fair will be having its third edition in October 2015.
Three artists of African heritage ex- hibited at Tate Modern in 2013 and a work by El Anatsui was draped over the facade of Royal Academy of Arts that summer. Asked what, in your opinion, dis- tinguishes African modern and contemporary art from the other art scenes, Christopher Spring answered, “It’s a massive question, so I’ll be brief: Humor, humanity and a lack of irony.”
Giles Peppiatt, Director of African Art , Bonhams
Giles Peppiatt is Director of Modern & Contemporary African Art at Bonhams.
“We have been holding regular auctions in this category for six years. We are the market leader, our sales are the highest grossing worldwide and we have set nearly all the world auction records for many of the African modern and contemporary artists. I think that the market will continue to grow. Although I think that this…
“Although I think that this growth will be on a longer-term basis, there is a high level of speculation that this market is the ‘next big growth market’.” Giles Peppiatt
…growth will be on a longer-term basis, there is a high level of speculation that this market is the “next big growth market”. I have seen growth, but I am pleased that it is currently well based with genuine collectors rather than speculators. Hence my prediction for a long term growth.
“I do think that Nigeria is becoming an artistic powerhouse in Africa.” Giles Peppiatt
The biggest threat would be if the African contemporary art market became the object of speculation in the way that Contemporary Chinese Art has become. We have seen a significant fall in the values in this market as the speculators have withdrawn. I do think that Nigeria is becoming an artistic powerhouse in Africa. It still has some way to go to match South Africa, certainly in the establishment of a strong and vibrant dealer/gallery network.
The most important events of 2015 are the Venice Biennale in early May, Bonhams’ Africa Now auction held in London late May and the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair held in London in October. It is true that the volume of transac- tions on the African contemporary art market is still well below other emerging markets including the Middle East, Latin America and China. But the trend is going in the right direction. I do believe that in 10 years’ time the market will be challenging these other areas.
The African contemporary art market in Western countries will continue to grow in the next few decades. We are seeing new Contemporary African Art galleries being started in London and other auctions being established. But I do believe it will take time.”
Kenneth Montague, collector, Canada
“I started collecting seriously in 1997; my main interest was contemporary African photography. Over time the collection has broadened to include painting, sculpture and design. I initially acquired work from places where the archive of historical African photography had first been recognized, documented and celebrated: Bamako (Seydou Keïta, Malick Sidibé), Lagos (J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere) and Johannesburg (Jürgen Schadeberg, David Goldblatt). With more research and exposure to the myriad of art histories, my collection now reflects a more diverse selection of work from Africa and throughout the diaspora. Today, I have over 300 pieces by numerous artists.
I was lucky to have parents who exposed me to the power of art as a child. Many weekends were spent at the Detroit Institute of Arts (across the river from my birthplace in southern Canada) where I first saw the Harlem Renaissance photography of African American icon James Van Der Zee. As a teenager, I volunteered as a tour guide at the North American Black Historical Museum, where I learned about the complicated legacy of slavery in the Americas and stories of the Black Atlantic. All of this led to a passionate interest in African history and ultimately, contemporary art.
My very first acquisition was a gift from my aunt, who was a civil rights advocate in New York City. She became friends with Alexander Calder and in 1975 commissioned him to create a series of prints celebrating the 25th anniversary of her organization, the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee. Our Unfinished Revolution was one of Calder’s last completed works, and my aunt presented me with her complete set when I graduated from university; this became the impetus for my subsequent collecting activity.
I am frequently asked to lend important works from the Wedge Collection to international exhibitions at major institutions, including the Studio Museum in Harlem (works by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye), the Nasher Museum of Art (works by Barkley L. Hendricks), the Frist Center for the Visual Arts (works by Carrie Mae Weems), and the Art Gallery of Ontario (works by Mickalene Thomas). I also enjoy creating shows from existing works in my collection. Some of these exhibitions are ‘Head Rooms’, about hair as a signifier of black identity, ‘Becoming,’ on the history of black portraiture, ‘Always Moving Forward,’ about contemporary African photography, and ‘Position As Desired,’ an exploration of African Canadian identity.
Whenever possible, I meet with the artists whose work I collect. Meeting the artist adds an important human dimension, and I always learn something new about the meaning of the work. I have become close friends with many of the artists in my collection.”
Robert Devereux collector, UK
Robert Devereux is chairman of the Tate’s African acquisition committee and a founder of the African Arts Trust. In 2010, he sold two- thirds of his Post-War British art collection in aid of the African Arts Trust, raising £4.73 million.
“I started collecting art in the early 1980s. After collecting Post-War British art, I have focused on African contemporary art, with a specific interest in emerging artists. I came across the African art scene in my travels around Africa 15 years ago. My collection, which now comprises 800 artworks, is very eclectic. My selection process is intuitive, I buy something if I love it. I have artworks from all over Africa, with a slight bias towards East and South Africa as that is where I spend most of my time.
Through the African Arts Trust, which I set up in 2010, I decided to support grassroots art organizations that provide local artists with practicalities for being a professional, full-time artist, with studio spaces, better resources and exposure. We recently supported the not-for-profit organisation Kuona Trust Centre for Visual Arts in Kenya and 32° East Uganda Arts Trust, among others. I like to meet with the artists whose work I have bought, to build a relationship. Buying art is more than just about specific objects.”
Gervanne and Matthias Leridon, collectors, France
Gervanne and Matthias Leridon have been collecting African contemporary art since 2000. Mat- thias Leridon is president of Tilder, a communications consulting firm. His wife, who used to be an auctioneer, now manages the couple’s endowment fund called African Artists for Development, which backs community development projects in Africa, associated with works by contemporary African artists.
“I would say that the start of our adventure into the heart of African contemporary art dates back to the exhibition ‘Magiciens de la Terre.’ For me, this exhibition was an artistic revelation similar to my encounter with the continent at the age of 12. Our inclination then grew through numerous trips to Africa and encounters with contemporary art there.
We started to buy artworks regularly in the 2000s, without having yet made the decision to actually build a collection. One of the first important paintings that we acquired was L’Espoir Fait Vivre (1989) by Chéri Samba. This emblematic piece is the “birth certificate” of our collection.
“I am interested in contemporary art in the broad sense. For me, it is a global vision of life where art
flourishes.” Matthias Leridon
Today, there are about 3000 artworks in our collection, including pieces by Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Chéri Chérin, David Goldblatt, Pieter Hugo, Abdoulaye Konaté, George Lilanga, Gonçalo Mabunda, Hassan Musa, Guy Tillim and Dominique Zinkpè. We are interested in many forms of art, inside and outside Africa. When she was an auctioneer, my wife specialized in contemporary art. I was fascinated by Alechinsky and was lucky enough to own some of his major pieces. I am also very keen on the art of Richard Texier, a great French artist who is strangely more famous abroad than in France.
I am interested in contemporary art in the broad sense. For me, it is a global vision of life where art flourishes. That is why I have always been interested in design and contemporary choreography. Although I often lean towards African designers, I like the creative, magical optimism of the Campana brothers from Brazil. It is time to link contemporary art from Latin America and Africa.
For our collection, we focus on artists from Sub-Saharan Africa. We buy by following our heart rather than our mind.
An artwork can seduce both of us instantly, but in most cases we don’t immediately share the same view. Our resulting conversations about whether we should add this or that artwork to our collection remain intense and passionate memories. We want to live with pieces that we love. Our collection does not aim to be exhaustive; it witnesses human encounters, artistic emotions and experiences. Through these artworks, we seek the artists’ vision of their continent and the future of the world as well as their aesthetic input.
We have already loaned our artworks to the museums or art centers that have requested them, as long as their project has been meaningful for the artist. Artworks are supposed to engage with a public audience. We would like our collection to be more visible and we are thinking about a large-scale project that would make sense between Europe and Africa.
We know most of the artists in our collection. Meeting them is a way for us to better understand their works and their personalities. What we really appreciate above all is the relationship between the artist and their oeuvre. An artwork always appears more complex, rich and global when its author describes it.”
David Adjaye, architect, United-Kingdom
Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye was born in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, in 1966. He has lived in London since the age of 9, and graduated with an MA from the Royal College of Art in 1993. He established his first architectural studio with William Russel, before establishing his own practice Adjaye Associates in 2000.
Recent projects include the Moscow School of Management (2010), the Cape Coast Museum of Slavery (current), the Roksanda Ilincic store in London (2014), the Aïshti Foundation in Beirut (current), collaboration with artist Doug Aitken (The Source, Tate Liverpool, 2013), space de- sign for exhibition All the World’s Futures (Venice Biennale, 2015), furniture design Double Zero (Moroso Collection, 2015).
In 2009, his firm was one of the four who were selected to design the $500 million Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is scheduled to open in Washington in 2016. Adjaye Associates was also chosen to design the new Studio Museum in Harlem, a $120 million project that will more than double the museum’s space (completion scheduled for 2019). David Adjaye is currently a visiting professor at Yale.
Franck Houndégla scenograph, France
Paris-based designer Franck Houndégla specializes in exhibition design, set design, and enhancement of public spaces and heritage sites. He teaches art, design, architecture and cultural heritage, and conducts research on the evolution of the architectural and urban forms in contemporary African cities.
His projects have been seen in Western and Eastern Europe, Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, DRC, Egypt, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia), Middle East, the United States and the West Indies.
Recent projects include ‘Liaisons Urbaines’, a programme of improvement and transformation of public spaces in three African cities (Porto-Novo, Ndjamena, and Casablanca) in 2012-2015, the exhibition design for ‘African Odysseys’ (The Brass, Brussels) in 2015, for ‘Brueghel, Cranach, Titian, van Eyck. Treasures of Brukenthal’s collection’ (Villa Vauban, Luxemburg) in 2011, and for the 9th Biennale of Photography in Bamako in 2011, as well as the design of sce- nic devices for two plays by Philippe Minyana in 2010-2012.
Given the specifics of the burgeoning African modern and contemporary art market, it is essential to go beyond auction results alone in order to analyze it. This study ranks the 100 artists who obtained the best scores according to five weighted criteria:
- turnover at auction in 20141 (25%)
- medium price of characteristic artworks on the first market(25%)
- number of exhibitions in museums throughout career(20%)
- number of exhibitions at commercial galleries throughout career(20%)
- level of recognition among independent art critics(10%)
4 artist profiles
4 different artist profiles emerged through the analysis:
- Global – The Global profile includes artists who are recognized internationally in both the museum and the commercial worlds, with stable prices on the first and the second markets.
- Undervalued – The Undervalued profile includes artists with a strong presence on the art scene, both in the non-profit and the first market sectors. Their artworks ap- pear sporadically on the second market, with undervalued prices.
- High Potential – The High Potential profile includes artists whose recognition in the art circles is underway. Their presence is stronger in museums than in commercial galleries. Their artworks are hardly seen on the second market
- To watch – The To Watch profile includes emerging artists whose first artworks have recently been seen on the second market for the first time.
For this study’s purposes, the Global and the Undervalued profile can be split in two according to the artists’ birth dates:
- Modern: artists who were born before1940.
- Contemporary: artists who were born after 1940.
Africa Art Market™
Jean Philippe Aka
Osei G. Kofi
(He’s a foreign correspondent and senior editor for a number of media houses including the Reuters News Agency)
Researcher in art history.IFAN. Cheick Anta Diop university, Dakar.
Journalist & art reviewer
Art reviewer & curator
NII B. Andrews
MD Art lover & reviewer
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