The Economist and the Telegraph are both taking notice of the rising interest in African art. Western recognition is important, the Telegraph’s piece is pegged to Bonhams Africa Now! sale in London today, but the real rise in value comes from the growing wealth on the continent as African turns a corner and begins to generate real economic advances. Here’s the Economist talking about the Biennale being held in Senegal:
Due to the lack of institutional and financial backing in the past, the continent’s art scene had struggled for decades. But the internet and economic growth have enabled African artists to promote their work internationally. Leading museums such as the Tate Modern in London have collections of contemporary art from the continent. Art lovers in South Africa, Nigeria and Ivory Coast have also been flexing their financial muscles, increasingly supporting the creation of independent galleries and museums.
Prices are still comparatively low, yet investors have started to pay attention. Many of the Biennale’s side events at local galleries, where art was not just exhibited but also for sale, were packed with visitors from abroad. Among them was Touria El Glaoui from London, the founder of 1:54, the first international fair dedicated to modern and contemporary African art. “I have seen very well known international collectors here,“ she said. “The prices having been growing in the last three years. It’s quite incredible, but in terms of pricing showing in Europe or the United States makes all the difference.“
And the Telegraph talking to Giles Peppiatt who runs contemporary African art for Bonhams:
Mr Peppiatt said half of the buyers of contemporary African art were from Africa. “Interest in contemporary African art has exploded, particularly among international collectors, who expect it to be the next market where values increase in the same manner as contemporary Chinese art,” he said.
Increased interest from African buyers has come with economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Given the rapid economic growth in the continent I see no reason why contemporary African art should not continue to attract greater interest, and therefore increase in price,” Mr Peppiatt said.
Much of the top contemporary African art comes from Nigeria and, to a lesser extent, Ghana.