Top French Auction House Joins the Growing African Art Market

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Soly Cisse  Untitled, 2014, Oil on canvas, Cm 150 x 100 Soly Cisse Untitled, 2014, Oil on canvas, Cm 150 x 100 Photo Courtesy of Piasa

PIASA, one of France’s most distinguished auction houses, will hold its third sale of Contemporary African Art, “Origins and Trajectories” on November 17 in Paris, featuring the work of 50 African artists.

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 has the ability to match big figures and powerful images.

Person 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.”

PIASA’s auction is part of a very busy schedule in Europe for African Contemporary art. After the 1:54 Fair in London in October and the AKAA Fair in November, next year (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. And the Art Paris Art Fair at Le Grand Palais in March will be dedicated to Africa.

PIASA is determined to carve out a significant market share by using its powerful relations with Francophone Africa.

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 November 17th, 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 on November 17 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 United States, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, 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 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 PIASIA’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.

Leading French art and design auction house PIASA has a 1,000 sq metre hotel particulier on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in the heart of the city's art market district. Innovative auctions have established its reputation with specific themes or devoted to a single artist or designer, or covering such specialist collectables as furniture & objets d’art, haute epoque, 20th century design and modern & contemporary art.

Source: Piasa Press Release

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