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Modern African Art : A Basic Reading List


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Major Group Exhibitions
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Art contemporain non occidental de 1989 à nos jours: collection Jean Marc Patras et à divers: [date of sale: June 9, 2005], Paris: Drouot-Montaigne, 2005. 98pp. illus. (color). N5311.A792 AFA.

This 2005 auction of a private collection of contemporary African art belonging to Jean Marc Patras might be characterized as Jean Pigozzi lite, for there are many of the same familiar artists present in each collection - - Chéri Samba, Seydou Keita, Malick Sidibé, Moké, Pume, John Kiyaya, Samuel Fosso, Aboudramane, Georges Lilanga, Agbali Kossi, Twins Seven Seven, among others. Half of the 35 artists represented were featured in either “Magiciens de la terre” (1989) or “Africa remix” (2005) exhibitions. Estimated prices range from 150 to 15,000 euros, but most hover around 500 to 1,500 euros. An exception is a work by Bodys Isek Kingelez which is priced at 20,000 to 30,000 euros. There are some non-African art works included. The sale was conducted in Paris by auctioneers Laurence Calmels and Cyrille Cohen.

Art for AIDS orphans, 18 October 2004. Johannesburg: Stephen Welz & Co. in association with Sotheby's, 2004. 88pp. illus. (color). N8650.S743 AFA. OCLC 53319373.

More than eighty South African artists plus a few organizations (notably Goodman Gallery) donated works for this second art auction to benefit AIDS orphans. Priced to sell, the works were mostly estimated at a few hundred rands to a few thousand rands. There were one or two exceptions, including Marlene Dumas' donated work (estimated at 100,000 to 120,000 rands). Also on sale were two Nelson Mandela "handprint" lithogaphs around which controversy later arose.

Bonhams (Chelsea). Modern and contemporary Africa art: Wednesday, 13th September 2000. London: Bonhams, 2000. 38pp. illus. (pt. color). N8650.B714 AFA.

This auction originally was to have been a sale of contemporary Nigerian art, but Bonhams auction house decided to broaden the scope by including works by artists from several other African countries. It is a significant sale because it is the first open market auction of contemporary African art by a mainstream auction house. True, there was the Sotheby’s 1999 auction of works from the Pigozzi (see next entry), but that was staged as a benefit and was underwritten. With the Bonhams sale prices were quite low. Most were well below £2,000. Not all works sold. Those that did went for asking price or less. So as an event for testing the waters, it was not really an impressive showing for contemporary African art.

Contemporary African art from the Jean Pigozzi collection / foreword by Mark Gibourne; [day of sale, June 24, 1999]. London: Sotheby's, 1999. 132pp., 57 lots. illus. (color). N8650.S7165 AFA. OCLC 18565846.

The 1999 Sotheby's auction of works from the Jean Pigozzi collection was the first major sale of modern African art by a top auction house. If the works of art look familiar, that is because most were published in the 1996 book Contemporary art of Africa (see in the General section, Surveys and Critiques). To this were added a few photographs.

Remarkably, all the works sold. Most fetched more than the estimated prices, which ranged on average from £500 to £3,000. Realized prices ranged from £2,000 to £7,000. The top price was a Willie Bester mixed media work going for £10,000 (pre-sale estimate, £4,000-£6,000). Not bad. The sale was billed as a benefit for Unicef and to establish the Jean Pigozzi Prize for Contemporary African Art.

L’Afrique autrement: photographie et art contemporain african. Paris: Drouot Richelieu, 2008. 48 pp. illus. (color). N5311.A792 AFA May 2008.

This art auction on May 16, 2008, Paris, featured seven African photographers and twenty-two visual artists. Included are a few big names such as Malick Sidibé, Jürgen Schadeberg, Cheri Samba. And more rising stars—N’doye Douts, Kisito Assangi, Colleen Madamombe and Tchiff. Estimated sale prices were modest, hovering in the range of €500 to €1,500.