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The African fine art market is experiencing increased visibility as a result of growing demand from both international and local collectors.

The Africa Wealth Report 2023, published by Henley & Partners in collaboration with New World Wealth, reveals that the continent’s fine art market reached a value of just over $1.8 billion in December 2022. This figure represents the annual total value of artworks traded at auctions, highlighting art as a symbol of social status, luxury, and a promising investment opportunity.

African artists like El Anatsui, Ben Enwonwu, and Irma Stern, are particularly sought after by art collectors worldwide. Irma Stern, a South African painter, consistently commands the highest prices at art auctions in Africa. Her paintings can fetch up to $3 million each, with an average price of approximately $300,000 per painting.

El Anatsui

In 2021, Ben Enwonwu’s sculpture “Atlas” from Nigeria achieved a groundbreaking sale of over half a million dollars at a Sotheby’s auction in London, setting a new world record for an African sculpture. These notable sales reflect the increasing interest and appreciation for African art among collectors, curators, and critics on a global scale.

The popularity of works by ten specific African artists extends to affluent art collectors worldwide. They include:

  • Sydney Kumalo – South Africa
  • Gerard Sekoto – South Africa
  • Irma Stern – South Africa
  • JH Pierneef – South Africa
  • Julie Mehretu – Ethiopia
  • Alexander Boghossian – Ethiopia
  • Ben Enwonwu – Nigeria
  • El Anatsui – Ghana
  • Hassan El Glaoui –Morocco
  • Omar El Nagdi – Egypt
Bleeding Takari II By El Anatsui

Additionally, the accessibility of African art has been enhanced by the emergence of digital art galleries. The Museum of Modern African Art (MOMAA) is a digital museum and one of several online platforms that showcase contemporary African art through immersive exhibitions and interactive features.

MOMAA also plays a crucial role in providing education and awareness programs to support local artists and foster a sustainable art market. The African art market shows promise for collectors and institutions, particularly with the advent of emerging technologies like AI which offer new opportunities for artists. 

By Elijah Christopher 

 

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