Haut de page

Five Useful Ways to Experience African Art

Publié dans Art Market  |  octobre 28, 2017

Five Useful Ways to Experience African Art
Many popular art events today revolve around established artists or trending artistic works, but more often involve emerging artists as well. Exploring unique and unusual pieces of art combining different art styles and forms is sure to be engaging for many audiences that may not gravitate towards African art. From international art fairs and auctions to local art exhibitions and graduate shows, art events gather visitors and art lovers alike in the name of cultural interaction. So, we’ve gathered a list of different event types that will give you some ideas of how to experience African art.

1. Art Auctions

Art auctions are events where collectors, dealers, critics, and art lovers gather before the auctioneer’s platform to buy artworks prepared in lots from the secondary market. The lots are often on public display in the auction house and online before the beginning of the sale. Major auction houses such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Bonhams hold periodic art sales of contemporary African art in various cities including Paris, London, and New York. They usually brought out the artworks for viewing while the bidding is in progress, or projected their image on a screen with the opening bid amount. After the event, sale prices are published on the auction house and partners’ websites, and are used to determine a particular artist’s worth in the marketplace. Being aware of contemporary African art auctions keeps you knowledgeable when it comes to the artists, art styles, and genres that are popular and commanding high prices.

2. Art Fairs

Art fairs are a perfect opportunity to discover a large variety of contemporary art from galleries and artists all over the world. Each event usually attracts many international visitors depending on its reputation. Since art fairs happen over multiple days, it is worthwhile to plan several visits. Gallerists are mainly there to share what is on display in their booth and promote the artists they represent. Many art fairs dedicated to promote contemporary African art have been created recently, some of which are present in the United Kingdom, the United States, as well as Nigeria and South Africa. With a growing interest for African artists, major art fairs such as the Armory Show and Art Paris have launched special editions with a focus on African art. Most art fairs such as 1:54 include some very interesting programs and features. Whether it’s some artist talks, keynote lectures, or panel discussions, these added bonuses will enhance your overall fair experience.

3. Art Fundraising

Visual art organizations such as museums and public galleries often launch periodic fundraising campaigns. The organizers usually request pieces of art for donation to support programmes that promote access to art for all. Collectors and artists whose work is highly recognized are often approached to donate art for sales in order to raise money for a worthy cause. These sales represent an effective way to discover new art styles or genres including contemporary African art. Sometimes the work could be anonymous – the artist being revealed after the purchase, to raise awareness on the charity event. In South Africa, the Johannesburg Art Gallery can maintain its collection and raise funds for the gallery’s activities and educational programmes with the help from the Friends of JAG. In the United Kingdom, The African Arts Trust raises money to support visual arts with an emphasis on grass roots organisations that support emerging artists trying to make a livelihood in the visual arts.

4. Art Openings

Art openings usually provide a delighted atmosphere to experience and buy art from emerging and established artists. It is a good opportunity for any artists who want to advance their career as well as the gallery who need to make a significant impression. Some galleries promote their openings as parties with music and refreshments to attract art lovers. Attending art gallery openings or private views is also essential to meet and discuss with people who share the same interest in art. In fact, you can join a group and go to other openings at other galleries on a similar circuit. Serious art buyers and collectors usually attend any given opening with the intent to discover and learn about art. If they see that the artists they are considering investing in can draw a crowd, they will be more interested in buying his art. Going to art openings and private views will get your face known and make gallerists and curators more open when you approach them to bargain.

5. Graduate Shows

Graduate shows exhibit work by recent graduates and alumni of the art schools to smooth their transition to the professional world. These events are an interesting way to explore and buy work by promising artists at more affordable prices. Since the vast majority of students will be unrepresented, it is a chance to influence the upward trajectory of future stars and contribute to their upcoming success by investing in them early. You can talk to the students during the event to get a grasp on their sources of inspiration and learn their creative process. Their personal story can influence your appreciation of their work and help you decide whether they are doing something truly interesting and original. If you like their work, take their details and get in touch. You should ask the students whether they have been approached about gallery representation. In essence, the best students are often selected at an early stage by gallerists. However, this is not necessarily an automatic indicator of their perceived potential.