PIASA, one of France’s most distinguished auction houses, will hold its third sale of Contemporary African Art, “Origins and Trajectories”, on 17 November in Paris, featuring the work of 50 African artists.
The auction is part of a busy schedule in Europe for African Contemporary art. After the 1:54 Fair in London in October and the AKAA Fair in November, 2017 will be very busy with an exhibition scheduled at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, and another at La Villette “Aperta Africa”, curated by Simon Njami of Revue Noire. In addition, the Art Paris Art Fair at Le Grand Palais in March will be dedicated to Africa.
PIASA’s ambition to own part of this increasingly valuable market is well within reach, says Christophe Person, who heads the Contemporary African Art department at PIASA in the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. A financier turned art specialist, Christophe comments: “African art is taking a long overdue turn in the spotlight of world interest. There is a growing understanding of the relevance of the continent’s artists whose themes are universal. And there is also a groundswell of interest from collectors and investors who have seen the prices climbing steadily.”
France and Africa have a long-intertwined art history. As early as the time of the ‘cabinets de curiosité’, artefacts from Africa were collected as these objects were seen as symbols of the African culture. At the turn of the 19th and 20th century, the Surrealists and the Cubists saw the intrinsic art value of these African artefacts. Today Classical African art remains a powerful component of the French art market, opening the way for the development of this new trade in Contemporary African Art which is being integrated into the global art market that still has its centre of gravity in Paris.
With PIASA’s “Origins and Trajectories” auction on 17 November, it is not the ‘otherness’ of African art that the auction house is showing but the avant-gardism of African artists – in the way that it is produced by artists combining their African identity with their personal stories and exposure to the world. The sale includes artists who already have an international profile and a growing reputation. These include: Aboudia, Armand Boua, Ghada Amer, Godfried Donkor, Romuald Hazoumè, Oumar Ly, Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou, Esther Malhangu, Gonçalo Mabunda, Dominique Zinkpè, Chris Offili, Wagechi Mutu, Mahi Binebine, Youssef Nabil and Nnenna Okore.
The sale reflects the diversity of the work of artists across the continent, some of whom move between Africa and the US, the Caribbean, the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Belgium. The sale is organised into sections including migration; the place of women artists in Africa and the Diaspora; and the way contemporary artists interpret classical African art in a new way; and a group following in the wake of EL Anatsui taking their lead from him.
It also offers a platform to young artists such as Goncalo Mabunda and Nnenna Okore, Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga and Wallen Mapondera, who are leading the way in interpreting classical African culture and putting it at centre stage for the wider world.
The evidence that African art is on the march is all around us. The Venice Biennale has most recently placed it centre stage, giving unprecedented visibility to a whole number of artists from Africa and its diaspora. Institutional interest and initiatives are multiplying too. The Bienniales in Marrakech, Dak’art, Bamako, Lubumbashi, Kampala and Luanda offer an invitation to discover the artists on the continent who are exporting more and more.
On a continent where public institutions have so far invested little in museums, there are passionate private collectors and collections that haven’t missed the opportunity to gather works from movements that will certainly establish themselves in time. The most emblematic are in Morocco, Benin, Angola, Nigeria and South Africa. Outside of Africa, we have seen exhibitions at the Tate in London and the Armory Show in New York, while Africa 1:54 at Somerset House in London offers art from every one of the 54 countries in the continent.
Now collectors have the opportunity to bid at PIASA’s latest sale on November 17 in Paris. The sale provides a snapshot of all that is best of Africa’s artistic offering to the world.
Sale: 17 November 2016 at 4pm
PIASA, 118, rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré 75008 Paris
From Monday 14th – to Thursday 17th November