Thursday 31 May 2018

With valuation lesson in Lagos, Sotheby's continues 'ghettoising' African artists

Hannah O'Leary, Director and Head of Modern and Contemporary African Art at Sotheby's.

Despite its rival, Christie's comment about 'ghettoising' African artists with dedicated art auction, Sotheby’s widens the potentials of art from the continent in the next few days. Sotheby's will be holding 'valuation days' in Lagos, Nigeria, ahead of the next auction of Modern and Contemporary African Art, which takes place in London on 16 October 2018.

According to a post on its website, director and head of Modern and Contemporary African art at Sotheby’s, Hannah O’Leary will be visiting Lagos 3-6 June. Her mission "is offering free and confidential auction valuations, strictly by appointment".

Coincidentally (?), Sotheby's three days valuation is holding
during the previews and sales  of West Africa's leading auction house, Arthouse Contemporary, in the same art hub city, Lagos. Arthouse holds two main auctions between May/June and November every year. Arthouse Contemporary has one of Ben Enwonwu's 'Anyanwu' sculpture editions as an estimated leading lot to sell for N50,000 000 - N60, 000 000 million naira.

After creating a new auction records for Njideka Akunyili Crosby's 'Bush Babies' - sold for $3.38m - and quite a number of artists of African descents, few weeks ago at its New York sales, Sotheby's seemed proud of the dedicated auctions.
“We are seeing a monumental shift in the art market towards greater diversity and a surge in interest in contemporary art from Africa, and of course Nigeria is leading the way",
O’Leary said. "Our African auctions see bidding from every corner of the globe, and we are proud to promote the very best Nigerian art to an international audience”.

Last week, Head of post-war and contemporary art in Europe, Francis Outred was quoted as saying that the auction house's featuring of artists of African descents alongside others from different regions was aimed at not "ghettoising African artists".

Whatever Outred meant by "ghettoising", the fact has been established: Sotheby's saw potentials and values in African artists ahead of Christie's. On June 28, Christie's will put for sales works by Ben Enwonwu, William Coply, among other old masters as well as young contemporary artists of African descents in a non-regional dedicated auction.

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