African art is generally confined to its only “primary art” component. The curators make modern or contemporary Western artists dialogue with statues or reliquaries, but rarely with African artists ...
It is a little as if we do not recognize in contemporary African artists any quality, influence or value on a market ofcontemporary art highly strategic in financial and cultural terms.
However, from the 1930s onwards, the penetration of European techniques and models into African plastic arts aroused a first indigenous awakening (what we will call “indigenous art”…).
In 1951, Pierre Lods created a painting workshop in Brazzaville, not imposing any artistic rule on his students, letting them give free rein to their creativity, their spontaneity and the representation of their tradition. ThePoto Poto School, one of the first artistic schools on the African continent, was born. The Miké style (slender, colorful characters) will quickly spread throughout Africa.
Following the independence of the Congo in 1960, Pierre Lods was called upon by President Senghor to create alongside Ida Ndiaye (one of the first great modern African artists recognized for his series of Tabaskis) what would be called theschool of Dakar.
Each student, introduced to the latest western artistic techniques, is encouraged to explore new avenues on new media that had been little used until then because they were too expensive.
The students of Iba Ndiaye will engage in conceptual or abstract art, those of Pierre Lods, will focus on the plastic expression of their traditions dear to the poet and cantor of negritude, Léopold Sédar Senghor.
These modern artists, Amadou Ba, Amadou Seck, Diatta Seck, Chérif Thiam, Philippe Sène… praised by Picasso, Soulages or Chagall when they came to Dakar for their exhibitions at the Dynamic Museum, are among the pioneers of modern African art, supported by a president who loves the arts and culture (30% of the state budget will be devoted to the arts by L. Senghor, never seen before!).
Collecting works of art being little practiced, promotional structures and museums with few means, the artist status proves particularly difficult in Africa.
A few individuals, supported by a small circle of patrons, nevertheless emerged: the Senegalese Ousmane Sow and Amadou Seck, the Ghanaian El Anatsui, the Congolese Chéri Samba, the Malian photographer Malick Sdibé, the Moroccan painter of equines Hassan El Glaoui, the Casamance potter Seni Camara, the South Africans Irma Stern and William Kentridge, the Ethiopian-American Julie Mehretu ...
Various individual initiatives, such as the Pigozzi, Zinsu or Blachère Foundations, accumulate works by the hundreds at low prices with a view to being subsequently valued.
Recently, it has been clear that the contemporary African art market has experienced a important media thrill as well as the beginning of structuring.
It is true that contemporary African art is an original and authentic art by its forms, its choice of colors and materials and its inspirations both traditional and current.
Of these works, emerges a lot of vitality, ofhumanity, rythme and strength.
Not very sensitive to the effects of fashion, to the decorative and mercantile inclinations of a Western art which seeks itself, it revives, renews contemporary art.
Since 2013, a contemporary African art fair called "1: 54"(1 continent, 54 countries) originally organized in London has an American edition in New York and a Moroccan extension in Marrakech. The first edition of its French competitor AKAA (“Also Known As Africa”) took place at the end of 2016. South Africa is very active with the FNB Joburg Art Fair and Cape Town Art Fair.
An Africa Art Market Report has been published since 2015, compiling auction sales by contemporary African artists, a minority. It shows an under-valuation and, with the notable exception of South Africa, an animation limited to a few emblematic artists and a few collectors, mainly Westerners.
The African continent being in growth, the works being of high quality, a few local collectors making their appearance, the market of modern and contemporary African art is called in the medium term to take off.
Hopefully, after having been denied for a long time, it will escape the speculative fever that other contemporary art markets may have known, and will develop over time in a logic of reappropriation by local actors and collectors of their heritage. cultural and artistic.