The Rising Market for African Art: Trends and Opportunities

The Growing Market for African Art: Trends and Opportunities

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the interest and demand for African art in the international market. This surge in popularity has led to new records being set at auctions, the establishment of galleries and exhibition spaces, and the recognition of African artists on the global stage. In this article, we will examine key trends in the market for African art and explore the potential future opportunities for artists, collectors, and the industry as a whole.

1. Record-breaking Auction Sales

The auction market for African art has experienced a boom in recent years. In 2023, Julie Mehretu set a new record for an artist born in Africa when one of her untitled works sold for .32 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. This was followed by another record-breaking sale of her work “Walkers With the Dawn and the Morning” for .7 million at Sotheby’s New York. These sales highlight the growing recognition and value of African artists in the international art market.

2. Increasing Prominence in Exhibitions

African art has become more prominent in exhibitions, museums, fairs, and art spaces around the world. In the first quarter of 2023, Ghanaian artists Amoako Boafo and Gideon Appah made their solo debuts at renowned galleries in New York and London respectively. Additionally, Gallery 1957, a gallery based in Accra and London, showcased works by various African artists at Frieze Seoul. This increased visibility and representation provide African artists with greater opportunities to showcase their talent and reach a wider audience.

3. Expansion of Gallery Spaces

As the demand for African art continues to grow, there has been an expansion of gallery spaces both on the African continent and in the West. Tiwani Contemporary, a Lagos- and London-based gallery, opened a new space in Mayfair, London, to further represent artists from Africa and its diaspora. Similarly, South African gallery Goodman opened a new space in New York to raise awareness of artists who are not represented in the US. These new gallery spaces serve as important bridges between the African continent and the global art market.

4. Cultivating Local Collectors

The growing interest in African art presents an opportunity to cultivate a new crop of local collectors. Bwo Art Gallery in Cameroon aims to bridge the artistic gap between African artists in Africa and its diaspora, by showcasing and supporting emerging and established artists. By providing access to art and fostering appreciation within the local community, spaces like Bwo can help develop a culture of art collection and appreciation in countries that historically lacked cultural institutions and art galleries.

5. Continued Growth and Opportunities

The surge in demand for African art indicates a long-lasting and sustainable interest in the market. As collectors and art enthusiasts recognize the longevity and value of African artists, it is expected that the market will continue to grow. This growth will provide opportunities for stakeholders including artists, gallerists, collectors, and cultural institutions to further develop and expand the continent’s art market.


Based on these trends and opportunities, here are some recommendations for the industry:

  1. Invest in emerging African artists: As the international market for African art grows, it is important to invest in emerging artists who show promise and potential. This can be done through supporting their exhibitions, purchasing their artwork, or offering mentorship and guidance.
  2. Expand art education and appreciation: To develop a sustainable market for African art, it is crucial to invest in art education and foster a culture of appreciation within local communities. This can be achieved through workshops, artist talks, and collaborations with educational institutions.
  3. Promote diversity and representation: It is important to showcase a diverse range of African artists and practice, to challenge the perception that the art market is centered around English-speaking countries. Curators and galleries should actively seek out artists from different regions of Africa and provide platforms for their work to be seen and appreciated.
  4. Collaborate with international galleries and institutions: Collaborations between African galleries and their international counterparts can help amplify the visibility of African artists on the global stage. It also provides opportunities for artists to participate in international exhibitions and events.

In conclusion, the trends in the market for African art indicate a bright future for artists and collectors alike. The growing demand, record-breaking sales, and increased visibility present opportunities for African artists to thrive on the international stage. By investing in emerging artists, expanding art education, promoting diversity, and fostering collaborations, the industry can further develop and sustain the growth of the African art market.


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