AN ANDY-WARHOL-STYLE PORTRAIT made by Njideka Akunyili Crosby while she was in graduate school sold for more than twice its estimate at Sotheby’s London this week. The auction house held its second sale dedicated to Modern & Contemporary African Art on March 28, and “À La Warhol,” a four-image self-portrait by the Nigerian-born, Los Angeles-based artist topped the sale.

According to Sotheby’s, “À La Warhol,” was made between 2005-06, when Akunyili Crosby earned a post-baccalaureate certificate at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia. She attended PAFA after completing her undergraduate degree in art and biology at Swarthmore College and prior to earning an MFA at Yale University. Estimated to yield 50,000-70,000 British pounds, the work sold for 200,000 British pounds ($283,460) including fees.

 


Lot 63: NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY (Nigerian, b. 1983), “À la Warhol,” circa 2005-06 (oil on canvas, 56.5 x 44.5 cm. / 22.25 x 17.75 inches (image); 76 x 61 cm., 30 x 24 inches (stretcher). | Estimate 50,000-70,000 British pounds ($70,865- $99,211). Sold for 200,000 British pounds ($283,460) including fees

 

The second-highest lot was also by a Nigerian artist, Ben Enwonwu. His 1962 figurative painting “Africa Dances,” from a series exploring dance traditions and ritual performance from his Onitsha-Igbo heritage, achieved six times its high estimate. The work sold for 187,500 British pounds ($265,744) including fees, against an estimate of 20,000-30,000 British pounds.

In February, “Tutu,” a portrait by Enwonu referred to by Ben Okri, the Booker Prize-winning Nigerian novelist, as Africa’s Mona Lisa, sold for 1,205,000 British pounds ($1,657,478) including fees at Bonhams London, an artist record.

Works by internationally known artists, both established and emerging, including El Anatsui (Ghana), Malick Sidibe (Mali, 1936-2016), Seydou Keita (Mali, 1915-2001), Pieter Hugo (South African), Pascale Marthine Tayou (Cameroon), Romuald Hazoumé (Benin), and Nicholas Hlobo (South Africa), were featured in the sale.

Many artist records were achieved. Sotheby’s cited 14 by Ibrahim Mahama (Ghana), Frédéric Bruly Bouabré (Ivory Coast), Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga (Congo), and Claudette Schreuders (South Africa), among others. Records were also set for Aida Muleneh (Ethiopia) and Ade Adesina (Nigerian), two artists who made their auction debut, according to Sotheby’s.

 


Lot 58: BEN ENWONWU (Nigerian, 1921-1994), “African Dances,” 1962 (oil on canvas, 51 x 41cm. / 20 x 16.25 inches). | Estimate 20,000-30,000 British pounds ($28,346-$42,519). Sold for 187,500 British pounds ($265,744) including fees.

 

Overall, the London sale brought 1,802,750 British pounds ($2,555,038) including fees, narrowly surpassing the high pre-sale estimate of 1,167,500-1,707,000 British pounds ($1,654,698-$2,419,331).* The auction featured 106 lots by 66 artists from 16 African countries. The sell through rate was about 78 percent, with 23 lots going unsold. According to Sotheby’s, one-third of the winning bidders were from the African continent.

Hannah O’Leary, Sotheby’s Head of Modern and Contemporary African Art, stated that the auction results “reflect the strength and diversity” of the market for modern & contemporary African art. She said the sale’s performance compelled Sotheby’s decision to increase the frequency of the department’s sales. Going forward, two auctions of the modern & contemporary African art will be presented annually.

The sale’s performance compelled Sotheby’s decision to increase the frequency of the department’s sales. Going forward, two auctions of the modern & contemporary African art will be presented annually.

Last year, the department’s inaugural sale achieved a significantly higher sales total, with slightly more lots (114). The May 16, 2017, auction realized 2,794,750 British pounds ($3,611,376) including fees, barely eclipsing the low end of the pre-sale estimate: 2.78 million-4 million British pounds ($3.59 million-$5.1 million). The sell through rate was also 78 percent. CT

 

(* Pre-sale estimates do not include fees, whereas the final sales totals incorporate buyer’s premium fees.)

 

READ MORE about international efforts that might help artists benefit from the sale of their works at auction

 

BOOKSHELF
“I Refuse to be Invisible” was published to coincide with Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s exhibition at the Norton Museum of Art. The show was her first survey and the book is the first to document her practice and includes a lengthy interview with the artist. Co-edited by Okwui Enwezor and Chika Okeke-Agulu, “Contemporary African Art Since 1980” is described as “the first major survey of the work of contemporary African artists from diverse situations, locations, and generations who work either in or outside of Africa, but whose practices engage and occupy the social and cultural complexities of the continent since the past 30 years.” “Recent Histories: Contemporary African Photography and Video Art from the Walther Collection” features work by 14 artists. “Malick Sidibe: Mali Twist” documents the recent exhibition at Fondation Cartier Pour L’Art Contemporain in Paris.

 
SALE HIGHLIGHTS


Lot 1: MOHAU MODISAKENA (South African, b. 1986), “Untitled, Qhatha Series,” 2010-11/printed 2010 (c-print on watercolour paper, 1 of an edition of 3 + 1 AP) 168 x 106 cm., 66.25 x 41.75 inches (each image); 174.5 x 112.5 cm. / 68.75 x 44.25in. (each sheet). | Estimate 20,000-30,000 British pounds ($28,346-$42,519). UNSOLD

 


Lot 8: GERARD SEKOTO (South African, 1913-1993), “Rue des Grands Augustins, Paris,” 1967 (oil on canvas, 27 x 19 cm / 10.75 x 7.5 inches). | Estimate 3,000-5,000 British pounds ($4,252-$7,087). Sold for 6,250 British pounds ($8,858) including fees

 


Lot 13: CHÉRI SAMBA (Congolese, b. 1956), “Hommage Aux Anciens Createurs,” 1994 (collage, glitter and acrylic on canvas, 81 x 100 cm. / 32 x 39.5 inches). | Estimate 20,000-30,000 British pounds ($28,346-$42,519). Sold for 45,000 British pounds ($63,779) including fees

 


Lot 18: FRÉDÉRIC BRULY BOUABRÉ (Ivorian, 1923-2014), “Une Cruelle Humanité,” 2010 (ink and coloured pencils on card, Quantity: 42, each: 10.5 x 14 cm. / 4.25 by 5.5 inches). Estimate 10,000-15,000 British pounds ($14,173-$21,260). Sold for 40,000 British pounds ($56,692) including fees. ARTIST RECORD

 


Lot 34: ABDOULAYE KONATÉ (Malian, b. 1953), “Femme du Sahel,” (textile,
218 x 147 cm. / 86 x 58 inches). | Estimate 25,000-35,000 British pounds ($35,433-$49,606). Sold for 31,250 British pounds ($44,291) including fees

 


Lot 35: AIDA MULUNEH (Ethiopian, b. 1974), “The World is 9 (Age of Anxiety), (archival digital print, 3 of an edition of 7 +2 AP, 80 x 80 cm. / 31.5 by 31.5 inches). | Estimate 4,000-6,000 British pounds ($5,669-$8,504). Sold for 5,000 British pounds ($7,087) including fees. ARTIST RECORD

 


Lot 49: GAVIN JANTJES (South African, b. 1948), “Amaxesha Wesikolo Ne Sintsuku (School Days and Nights),” 1977 (oil on canvas, 150 x 150 cm. / 59 x 59 inches). Estimate 25,000-35,000 British pounds ($35,433-$49,606). Sold for 30,000 British pounds ($42,519) including fees

 


Lot 55: IBRAHIM MAHAMA (Ghanaian, b.1987), “Chale Wote,” 2014 (jute sacks and mixed media, 366 x 640 cm. / 144 x 252 inches). | Estimate 60,000-90,000 British pounds ($85,038-$127,557). Sold for 75,000 British pounds ($106,298) including fees. ARTIST RECORD

 


Lot 57: EL ANATSUI, (Ghanaian, b. 1944), “Untitled,” 1989 (wooden sculpture, 56.5 x 131.5 cm. / 22.25 x 51.75 inches). | Estimate 25,000-35,000 British pounds ($35,433-$49,606). Sold for 30,000 British pounds ($42,519) including fees

 


Lot 71: CLAUDETTE SCHREUDERS (South Africa, b.1973), “Three Sisters,” 1998 (carved jacaranda wood, enamel and oil paint, quantity 3: 70.5 x 19.7 x 16.5cm. / 27.75 x 7.75 x 6.5 inches; 71.8 x 26 x 27.5 cm., 28¼ by 10.75 x 10.75in; 66 x 35.5 x 28.6 cm., 26 x 14 x 11.25 inches). | Estimate 18,000-22,000 British pounds ($25,511-$31,181). Sold for 60,000 British pounds ($85,038) including fees. ARTIST RECORD

 


Lot 89: ATHI-PATRA RUGA (South African, b. 1984), “The Exile According to the Elder,” 2014 (wool, artificial flowers and thread on tapestry canvas, 220 x 184 cm. / 86.75 x 72.5 inches). | Estimate 20,000-30,000 British pounds ($28,346-$42,519). UNSOLD

 


Lot 93: BARTHÉLÉ TOGUO (Cameroonian. b. 1967), “Forever Growing,” 2016 (acrylic and ink on canvas, 200 x 200 cm. / 78.75 x 78.75 inches). | Esimate 20,000-30,000 British pounds ($28,346-$42,519). UNSOLD

 


Lot 104: AIMÉ MPANE (Congolese, b. 1968), “Untitled (12 Portraits,” 2011 (paint and pigment on hand carved wood, overall 93 x 120 cm. / 47.75 x 36.75 inches; each: 31 x 30 cm. / 12.25 x 11.75 inches). | Estimate 20,000-30,000 British pounds ($28,346-$42,519). UNSOLD

 


Lot 110: RANSOME STANLEY (German, b. 1953), “Tricky,” (oil on canvas, 160 x 140 cm. / 63 x 55 inches). Estimate 6,000-8,000 British pounds ($8,504-$11,338). UNSOLD

 

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