Angalia - African contemporary art
Angalia - African contemp
Angalia - African contemporary art

The place of contemporary African art

Swab Art Fair 2015, Barcelona
Swab Art Fair 2015, Barcelona
For most art lovers, African art is epitomised by masks and statuettes. Although tribal art has made a major contribution to Africa receiving artistic recognition, it should not overshadow contemporary creation. Africa is changing. It is displaying the first signs of an extraordinary transformation. As both witnesses and agents of change, the artists depict an Africa that is opening up to the world and is now seeking to live in the present, both economically and artistically. 

Increasingly visible contemporary creation

The Magicians of the Earth (1989) and Africa Remix (2005) exhibitions were milestone events in the process of raising the profile of contemporary African art. Supported by large private collections (the Pigozzi Collection in particular), biennials, art critics, curators and a growing bibliography, the presence of African visual artists in the contemporary art world is growing day by day. It is going hand in hand with growing interest on the part of art collectors and lovers in non-Western art, with contemporary Indian art proving popular, for example. Major auction houses have been regularly holding sales of contemporary African art in Paris, London and New York over the past few years. More recently, three specialized annual sales-exhibitions have been created: 1:54 in London since 2013 and New York since 2015, and AKAA in Paris in November 2016. The « Beauté Congo - Congo Kitoko » exhibition hosted by the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris from July 2015 to January 2016 was a tremendous success.

Contemporary African art: a market under construction

There are naturally still many weaknesses. One weakness is the situation in Africa where, with South Africa being the sole exception, the internal market is still too small to support artists and foster the creation of a market infrastructure. However, these weaknesses also constitute opportunities. They are encouraging African artists to forge international connections, which also helps to step up the pace of their inclusion into the international market. From an economic perspective, contemporary African art has all the characteristics of an emerging market. The number of initiatives is growing, creativity is intense, yet prices remain very affordable. For art collectors, now is the time to enter the market. 

The number of initiatives, perspectives, artistic practices and people involved in promoting contemporary African art is growing. An online media review  tracks the different dimensions of the development of contemporary African art: 
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