Recently the craze around African art has been huge. Ever since Bonhams had their record breaking sale, and the most recent world record breaking ‘Africa’s Mona Lisa’ selling for an extraordinary £1,205,000 (it had an estimate of £200,000 – £300,000) there has been a tremendous amount of buzz related to contemporary African art. So much so that Sotherby’s have dedicated a whole department toward this segment. They have also begun their own auctions earlier this year and again, achieved higher than expected results.
Is African Art the next big thing? This is a justified question given the statistics. The growth of interest around this category keeps increasing by the sale. Although this is fantastic news for the image and representation of African based artists and culture, i’m still keen to find out why? What is so special about African art that has people willing to spend big? Considering just a few years ago it was almost unheard of and at times dismissed by reputable galleries.
The answer to this is quite simple, the sudden rise in African millionaires. Africa, especially South Africa and Nigeria over the last decade has seen a boom in their economy. Resulting in a sudden wave of millionaires and billionaires. There has been a reported 145% rise in HNWI since 2000. In Nigeria alone a 305% rise within this period. The vast wealth these individuals and corporations produced a wave of spending on luxury products. One of these products being art. They have begun to buy and collect pieces of key artwork which embraces their culture. Giving birth to a whole new marketplace as the demand for African art has increased. We now see this marketplace reach out as far as London and New York, where the vast majority of the wealthy African now have residence.
In addition to this, the whole cultural movement, patterns, colours and designs of African inspiration has been boosted through the global success of films such as Black Panther. Including the rise in commercialised African music such as Afrobeats. Combined it has completely changed the outlook on African products and transitioned it into the luxury segment. Now, a piece of African art or apparel is considered a luxury good which is traded and collected by the elite.
If you are considering where next to spend your money or what luxury product to buy, you may want to venture out from the norm and move to the latest booming trend which is African art.