Ever since I came across the work of El Anatsui at the Denver Art Museum, I have yearned to see more of his work live. Since then, I have seen his works at the Brooklyn Museum (the picture above is of a work called Earth Skin), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and on New York's High Line, where he had his work Broken Bridge II temporarily displayed. Born in 1944, this Ghanian artist has spent much of his professional career in Nigeria. While he has diverse works, his bottle-top creations receive the most critical acclaim and demand.
While many African artists have been in the field of creating contemporary art for decades, a recent Sotheby's auction has been the talk of the art world. Works by El Anatsui were auctioned off along with works by such artists as Yinka Shonibare, Ben Enwonwu, Virginia Chihota, Sokari Douglas Camp, and Esther Mahlangu, as well as works by celebrated white South African artists Irma Stern and William Kentridge. COOS featured Nicholas Hlobo in an earlier BIBA Entry, and a work of his was also featured in this recent Sotheby's auction. Projected to sell for between £8,000 and £12,000, his work entitled Untitled sold for £60,000.
Held in May 2017, this Sotheby's auction marks the FIRST EVER Sotheby's auction of modern and contemporary art from Africa. Mostly seen as a niche market, arts such as El Anatsui, Nicholas Hlobo, Irma Stern, and William Kentridge have been internationally significant in the art world for a while. It is sad that this auction is just happening. Even though Picasso denied the influence of African art on his works, many exhibitions have been held to prove the clearly visible connection. Yet, voices in the art world throughout history have claimed that Africa could never produce modern or contemporary artists, or that there is no art in the non-west such as the art that belongs in [western] museums. With that said, it is comforting to know that - after all this time - Sotheby's is silencing the anti-African voices of the art world by selling African art at prices comparable to their European and American counterparts.
To view the CNN Marketplace feature on this auction, please click here!
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