Masterclass: African Art Auctions in Europe

Tue Dec 1, 17:30 - Tue Dec 1, 18:30

Event is online


Major auction that take place in Africa, tend to reflect on domestic markets for art. The auctions that are staged in Europe, by Piasa (in Paris), Sotheby's and Bonhams, both London based houses, offers insight into how collectors around the world are responding to modern and contemporary art produced by Africans. 

Given most African-based galleries, dealers and artists rely on European collectors information pertaining to this market is vital. As such these sales are watched closely by those with vested interests in art from Africa.

Perceptions of the status of African artists and confidence in African art are readily shaped by the sales produced by these European auction houses. Often works that are undervalued in domestic sales on the African continent do far better in Europe. 

In this masterclass, Mary Corrigall will take an in depth look at the results of the sales conducted by the European houses over last two years. This will reveal how they are differentiated from each other and how these characteristics might influence sellers and buyers.  

Drawing from African Art Auctions, October 2020, the masterclass will present the most interesting facts from the sales in London and Paris.  

In October this year three auctions took place to coincide with 1;54 Contemporary African Art fair in London, which manifested as a live event pared with online platforms facilitating sales. Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary African sale took place online from 2 to 9 October. Bonhams sale was live at their London office on 8 October. Piasa's sale took place on 7 October at their Paris office, although, as with Bonhams, online bidding was accommodated.

The Global auction market has taken a huge knock, with an estimated loss in turnover in the first quarter of 49% (to the major auction houses Sotheby’s, Christies and Phillips). How has the secondary market for African art fared? Has the average price of artworks in this category also decreased and which artists works are exceeding estimates?

These are some of the questions this new report is aimed to address. Results are contextualised and complement with commentary from the auctioneers in question.