Artsy’s Anny Shaw looks at the Oceanic and Tribal market and sees a huge concentration of value in the top of the market over the last 15 years. She quotes a report that tracks a quadrupling of the auction volume between 2001 and 2013 with a hockey-stick like rise of 80% the next year (most likely the result of the sale of a major collection that year.)
The problem, Shaw discovers, is that the credit crisis seemed to kill the middle market with buyers attracted to the best pieces. Now with the emphasis on mixing tribal art with Contemporary art—a trend that has been evident for several years at art fairs, galleries and auction house viewings—crossover buyers continue to come in at the top of the market.
Shaw has a good example from a recent fair:
Didier Claes, the Brussels-based dealer and vice-chairman of BRAFA, is showing two large-scale contemporary abstract canvases by the Belgian painter Sophie Cauvin alongside African objects. The move reportedly drew a new collector into Claes’s stand on opening night. The collector went on to purchase the dealer’s most expensive tribal piece on offer, priced at €700,000.