MUTUALART - ARTICLE
Women to Collect Now: 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Marrakech
By Kemi Olateju POSTED 18 February 2019
This week, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair opens its 2019 Marrakech edition. Using data from our new MA Intelligence tool, analyst and MutualArt member Kemi Olateju gives insight into the women to watch at this year's event.
1:54 is an annual art show of African art founded by Touria El Glaoui in 2013. Deriving its name from the 54 countries that constitute the African continent, the art fair is dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora with annual editions in London, New York, and Marrakech.
The 2019 calendar kicks off in Marrakech with VIP views beginning on February 21st. Works from 18 international galleries and over 60 established and emerging artists will be presented.
40% of the countries in Africa are represented at this year’s fair. The majority of artists hail from Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa. This makes for a diverse range of style, media, and subject, though there is perhaps a slight under-representation of East African nations.
The number is still low, but women artists are becoming increasingly represented in contemporary African Art. Almost 25% of the artists on show at this year's Marrakech fair are female-identifying. While this is still far from parity, it does offer a strong balance between established and emerging female artists from diverse backgrounds, working in various media. Here are some prominent examples.
Shirin Neshat, Passage (2001)
Perhaps the most established female artist on display will be the Iranian born Shirin Neshat, a contemporary artist whose primary medium is photography. She has featured in over 100 exhibitions and offered over 500 works at auction with strong results. Maybe the most notable work sold at auction is Passage (2001) which sold in 2014 for $269,000. Her works posted a median selling price of $16,250 over 2018.
Mickalene Thomas, Come With Me Now, I Need You (2007)
The American born Mickalene Thomas is another artist of international renown exhibiting at the fair. Her work features a wide range of media such as collage, silkscreen, and photography covering exploring how black women are represented in arts and media.
Her works have been featured in over 100 exhibitions and she has had a strong auction showing, but over recent years the number of works available at auction has dipped considerably. Below is a graph taken from the MutualArt Intelligence module showing the change in median artwork prices and estimates for Mickalene Thomas over 10 years.
In 2018 she had six works available at auction and sold five with a median selling price of about $11,500. In comparison in 2015, she had six works available at auction with a median sold price of $90,625, only one of which was a photograph.
It bears mentioning that Neshat and Thomas, who both enjoy stellar international reputation, are not African by birth. Female, African-born artists whose work is included in the fair tend to have less worldwide exposure and market-representation. Below are two examples of African-born women artists who are beginning to buck this trend.
Nigerian-born mixed media artist, Peju Alatise, creates work that focuses on the political and religious issues that affect women in her home nation. She has been visible on the auction scene since 2009 with about 27 works sold. She shows a compound annual growth rate* of 11% for her paintings which indicates strong promise for their secondary market value over time.
Alatise was one of first Nigerians to exhibit at the Venice Biennale (at the 57th edition in 2017) and was the winner of the FNB Art Prize at JoburgArtFair in 2017.
Otobong Nkanga, The Encounter That Took a Part of Me (2016), installation view, Nottingham Contemporary Gallery
To call Nigerian born Otobong Nkanga a multidisciplinary artist might be a bit of an understatement. Her works span a wide range of media including performance, installation, drawing, tapestry, sculpture, and photography. She explores themes of colonialism, depleting natural resources, commodification, and cultural value.
Nkanga has shown work in over 50 exhibitions worldwide and is currently included in the Salon de Peinture installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp. She is the 2015 recipient of the Yanghyun Prize but has not had any activity on the secondary auction market to date.
For a truly fresh look at an emerging female artist, keep an eye out for French artist Nathalie Boutté. Boutté makes ingenious collages from thousands of used print-paper strips laid side by side in a feathery array, recasting forgotten historic photographs. She is the recipient of the 2012 Kristal Prize from the Salon de Montrouge.
*The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is a calculation used by investors to measure the growth of an investment from an initial purchase value to an ending value over a certain time. It represents the rate at which an investment would have grown if the investment had compounded at the same rate every year. Formula: (Ending Value – Beginning Value) ^1/n -1 with n representing the number of periods).
The use of CAGR as an indicator of an artist’s market return over a 10 -year period is solely based on the author's opinion and its application is admittedly flawed and should be used only as a rough estimation. It’s assumed that the median realized value of an artist’s sales in a given year can be used as a proxy for works of a similar medium. It gives no value to either size, provenance or aesthetics.
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