African Art Is On the Rise: Why You Should Invest Today

Nov 4, 2022

The African art scene is currently experiencing a period of massive growth with increasing demand for both Modern & Contemporary pieces, and it’s not hard to see why.

The spectacular craftsmanship and rich cultural heritage make African art an excellent investment for those looking for a booming industry that has yet to become oversaturated.

More and more investors from around the world continue to show interest in contemporary African Art and there are now more galleries & museums dedicated to African Art than ever before.

If you’re looking for an investment that can increase in value while also providing adornment to your space, African art may be the right choice!

In this blog, we take a look at the reason African Art is on the rise and why you should consider investing in some today.

The Statistics 

—> A collection of historic African artwork from Mali, Gabon, the Congo, and Liberia was auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York in November 2014 for a record-breaking $41 million. The highest amount earned from the sale of African art in the USA

—> A modern painting by South African artist Vladimir Tretchikoff sold at London’s Bonhams in 2012 for £337, 250, five times the estimate. Another work by the late artist, Chinese Girl, smashed the record the following year when it sold for £982,000, which was three times the anticipated price.

—> A series of wooden sculptures by Nigerian artist, Ben Enwonwu, was sold in London for £361,000, which was three times the estimated price.

—> El Anatsui’s artwork, New World Map, made of aluminium and copper, sold for £541,250, one of the highest sums ever paid for a piece by an indigenous African artist.

Who is buying African Art?

Contemporary African art has seen an increase in demand from buyers all around the world, generally.

However, the intriguing information that might pique your interest is that over a third of these buyers are from Africa itself.

And this isn’t just the millionaires of the continent purchasing art; even those in the middle class are putting their cash down on contemporary African artworks.

Michelangelo-Pieta-848x530

Vladimir Tretchikoff’s Chinese Girl Painting. Photo: The Telegraph

Reasons for the Boom in the African Art Market

1. African Art is providing huge returns for global investors

The two commodities that are currently giving investors the best returns worldwide are gold and art.

African art is a very recent addition to the market for “investible assets,” commanding high prices and yielding enormous returns for international investors after being overlooked for decades.

One of the world’s leading auction houses, Sotheby’s, has said that there is currently a bull market for artwork from Africa and if you are looking for an excellent rate of return on your money, invest in African art.

2. New Collectors springing up around the world

Black Lives Matter’s influence on the West’s racial awakening has prompted American and European galleries and museums to try and balance out their overly white artist portfolios.

Black and African artists are receiving increased recognition from magazines, and collectors are getting in on the action.

In an interview with The National News this year, Touria El Glaoui, founder of 1-54 Contemporary Art Fair, said:

” For me what changed between before Covid and this year is the great appreciation of African art. There were always the usual collectors coming to 1-54 as part of the Frieze Week circuit. But this year we were very instrumental. There were a lot of complaints that we didn’t have enough work – because we had so many more collectors – and there were no complaints about the prices, which makes all the difference.”

There has also been an influx of Chinese new buyers, African collectors, Arab collectors, and African-American collectors.

3. There is a significant increase in the number of USD millionaires from Africa

Africa is now home to at least 130,000 US-dollar millionaires and 22 US-dollar billionaires, with enormous prospects for many more to join the list, according to the Africa Wealth Report 2021.

This fast-rising number of Africans flush with cash can be tied to sectors like communications, financial services, retail, manufacturing, imports and exports, agriculture, commodities etc.

It is hardly unexpected that increasingly wealthy Africans are making significant investments in African art because art is frequently a luxury enjoyed by the rich. And as the number of high net-worth individuals on the continent continues to rise, so will their desire for contemporary and modern art.

4. African art is becoming increasingly appreciated

Africa has been an important source of art for over ten thousand years. There is a long history of African art, from small tools and jewellery to large sculptures and masks.

For the past few hundred years, much of the African art sold in Europe was created for the purpose of trade, so it didn’t necessarily reflect what was most meaningful to people in Africa.

Now, there is a new appreciation for African art as something that can be enjoyed by people all around the world, regardless of their cultural background.

Young Africans are increasingly expressing themselves artistically through painting, sculpture, carving, and other art forms to portray the realities and dreams that surround them.  As a result, there is a tremendous market for stunning and distinctive pieces of African art.

The main buyers of local African art in the past have been tourists and members of the upper class. However, these days, Africans in the middle class are also contributing to the sales numbers. They are the ones who are developing an interest in and purchasing locally inspired, lovely, and reasonably priced art.

African Culture Depicted Through Art

New World Map by El Anatsui. Photo: El Anatsui

Why You Should Invest in African Art Today

Going by some of the reasons we have highlighted for the boom in the African Art market, you probably have started to see why investing in African Contemporary Art today is worth it. But here are some key reasons why you should consider copping a piece of African art today:

1. Good return on your investment

As previously stated, art is one of the two commodities that is currently providing the best returns for investors. The African Art market has been ranked as the 2nd highest art market in terms of market confidence and it continues to grow and break new records each year.

In an interview with CNN, Prince Yemisi Shyllon, Nigeria’s largest private art collector, said:

“When I started collecting art as an undergraduate at university in the mid-1970s, it had virtually no value. You could buy a piece of good art for 20,000 Naira [approximately $40 at current conversion rates]. Today it would sell for millions.  I’ve studied the movement of the prices of artwork sold in auctions in Nigeria since 1999, and I can tell you how much the artworks have grown over time, of different artists — if we draw a correlation analysis we come up with a positive graph about the growth, and therefore it can form a solid basis for investment.”

2. The pleasure of owning a piece of history

When you purchase original artwork, you are buying a one-of-a-kind piece of art that no one else can own except you decide to sell it. It’s yours and yours alone. You have a certificate from the artist that authenticates your purchase and no one can take that away from you.

Additionally, the work you purchase enriches your immediate environment, making it more aesthetically pleasing and even a great conversation starter whenever someone new comes into your space.

AMANDLA - African visual artist, African art

Amandla by Manelisi Nene  – Available for purchase on the Creatives Auction Marketplace

Andrew Edjobeguo- Walking on Air -African Sculptures for Sale

A unique Bronze Sculpture by Andrew Edjobeguo – Available for purchase on the Creatives Auction Marketplace

3. Directly influencing the economy

Without a question, the African continent needs a new beginning in terms of its financial stability and economy.

For instance, Nigeria will benefit from exporting its domestically manufactured items in order to lower inflation and partially stabilize the economy.

By purchasing pieces of artwork from the continent, you will be making a direct contribution to strengthen the African economy and helping it fare better than it currently does.

4. Empowering young African Creatives

Putting money into the work of emerging artists from across the continent will undoubtedly inspire them to do more while encouraging those behind them to know that they can choose a career as an artist and still live a life as fulfilling as their doctor or lawyer counterparts.

There are so many undiscovered creative talents in Africa and the only way to bring them out is by supporting those at the forefront of things today.

5. For the lifestyle & the culture!

When you’re wealthy and glamorous, acquiring art becomes a part of your way of life. When wealthy individuals shop for luxury things, art is undoubtedly at the top of their list of must-haves.

Buying art is one of the pathways to becoming glamorous if you are wealthy but not yet particularly glamorous.

It’s becoming a status symbol to be seen with celebrities, important figures, and highly wealthy individuals at auctions and exhibitions.

Additionally, the love of African culture is a valid reason to cop some pieces of African art today. They are an expression of our culture and are one of those things that just never go out of style because of how unique they are!

Conclusion

The future of the African Contemporary Art market is bright! As the number of wealthy individuals, both across the continent and in diaspora, continue to increase, so also will the demand for these artworks increase.

If you’ve been putting off purchasing a piece, we hope this article helped you better understand why you should start collecting African Art today.

Investing in African Art is a lucrative opportunity in a fast-growing industry that you don’t want to miss out on.

If you want to start shopping around for some African Art today, we have a lot of unique pieces on our marketplace! And we’re always here to support you by answering any questions you may have on your purchase journey.

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If you have any thoughts on the future of the African Art market, feel free to share them with us in the comment section below.

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