African art consultancy agency Africa Art Market listed Africa’s 100 most bankable artists. “Africa’s growing economies bring money into the African art market, and with money comes knowledge, structure, and an increasingly organised and attractive African arts scene”, says art dealer and consultant Jean Philippe Aka.
Originally from Côte d’Ivoire, Jean Philippe Aka is an art dealer and consultant with almost 20 years of experience in his field. His art consultancy company Africa Art Market recently published a report that provides access to investors with an eye for African arts. The report provides an overview of today’s African art, and lists the 100 most interesting African artists from an investor’s point of view. The list was compiled relying on turnover, medium prices, the number of exhibitions in museums and commercial art galleries, and recognition amongst art critics as most important criteria.
Formalised African art market
“Africa Art Market provides its clients with quality research and introduces them to the world of African arts”, says Jean Philippe, who works in Paris, New York and Johannesburg. “We help clients better understand the arts, make them see the pleasure that creativity can bring, and help them enhance their taste for art. The larger share of our clients are based in the United States and Europe, and make for a generation of African collectors who enquire art as an asset class.”
“What is really important in order for any art market to flourish”, comments Jean Philippe, “is a thriving economy. A well-functioning economy will stream money into the art market. And money attracts knowledge that will structure the market. For a long time, this is why African art could not level with art from other continents. With the African economy picking up, money and structure are contributing to an increasingly formalised art market in Africa.”
But what makes African art a top-class investment, we ask. Jean Philippe: “The artists included in the ranking exhibit potential for growth. They generate significant turnover through gallery sales, can be found in the world’s most important galleries, and enjoy global support from top private and public collector institutions. Most of our clients buy African arts for pleasure, taste, passion or marketing. For them, return-on-investment rates tend to waver between 10 and 15 per cent, depending on the artist.”
According to Africa Art Market, below are today’s most prominent African artists.
#1: El Anatsui, Ghana
El Anatsui creates sculptures that are mutable in form, conceived to be so flexible that they can be shaped in any way. In 2014, El Anatsui’s metal wall piece Paths to the Okro Farm (2006) was sold for €1.33 million – the highest price ever paid for an artwork by a living African artist.
#2 Julie Mehretu, Ethiopia
Julie Mehretu’s paintings and drawings refer to elements of mapping and architecture, and achieve a calligraphic complexity that resembles turbulent atmospheres and dense social networks. Mehretu’s art, which is considered global contemporary, generated a turnover of €5.45 million in auction sales in 2014.
#3 William Kentridge, South Africa
Having witnessed first-hand one of the twentieth century’s most contentious struggles – the dissolution of apartheid – Kentridge brings the ambiguity and subtlety of personal experience to public subjects that are most often framed in narrowly defined terms. At a New York auction sale in 2013, Kentridge sold out before the auction had started.
Main image: Work of Sokari Douglas Camp photo :Sylvain Deleu courtesy the artist &AAM
Image 2: Jean Phillipe Aka courtesy AAM