Connecting collectors with outstanding works of art since 1744, Sotheby’s is the oldest and largest auction house in the world. Since its inaugural sale in 2017, the international auction house continues to lead at the forefront of the Modern and Contemporary African art market, championing artists from Africa and the diaspora.

Sotheby’s Director and Head of Modern and Contemporary African Art, Hannah O’ Leary adds, “Sotheby’s entry into the Modern and Contemporary African art market marks a sea-change in this field, from a niche area to one of international interest. Sotheby’s – a blue chip name, listed on the New York Stock Exchange – gives credibility to this market on a global scale, which allows numerous applications for art from the African diaspora as a worthy commodity”.

With its first two sales Sotheby’s achieved outstanding results for artists in this field, breaking over 35 artist records and attracting collectors from 33 countries across 6 continents. The most recent sale saw over half of lots selling above their high estimates and set fourteen auction records; most notably Nigerian master Ben Enwonwu’s ‘Africa Dances’ which soared above its pre-sale estimate, realising £187,500/$265,744 (est. £20,000 – 30,000). The sale also saw stellar results from artists from the Democratic Republic of Congo, including the young Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga, whose Mangbetu achieved £65,000/$92,124 against a pre-sale estimate of £8,000-12,000, and Bodys Isek Kingelez’s Base King, which stormed past its pre-sale estimate of £10,000-15,000, selling for £42,500/$60,235.  Kingelez will return to Sotheby’s this October with another intricate ‘maquette’, New Wax (est. £20,000-30,000).  The artist, who passed away in 2015, is the subject of a large scale retrospective, on view at MoMa until 1 January 2019.

This October, Sotheby’s presents a selection of works from across the African continent, featuring standout pieces by leading artists in this category, including El Anatsui, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Chéri Samba, Ouattara Watts, David Goldblatt, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Kudzanai Chiurai, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Kader Attia and Marlene Dumas.  This season’s sale will be led by contemporary art superstar, El Anatsui, and his shimmering bottle cap piece, TAGOMIZOR (est. 500,000-800,000).  Featuring bands of black and gold geometric patterns, Anatsui’s TAGOMIZOR evokes imagery of traditional Ghanaian Adinkra symbols.

Following on from William Kentridge’s sell-out performance of ‘The Head & the Load’ at the Tate Modern this July in London, commemorating the African involvement in the First World War, Sotheby’s is pleased to present the artist’s ‘Kinetic sculpture’ (est. £70,000-90,000). The work is constructed out of found objects: the wheels and chain from a bicycle, a megaphone, a tripod and rulers. This animated sculpture by Kentridge draws on the ready-mades of Marcel Duchamp, demonstrating the artist’s process of reclaiming old objects for new uses.

Sotheby’s also has the pleasure of offering Gavin Jantjes’s seminal work ‘A South African Colouring Book’ (est. £40,000-60,000), a set of 11 screen-prints made up of collages of photographs, newsprint, drawings and sections of handwritten text.  Each one is titled with the instruction ‘Colour me…’, referring to the discrimination based on race that occurred in South Africa at the hands of Apartheid. The artist combined personal details such as his ID pass, identifying him as ‘Cape Coloured’ and elements from current affairs, such as financial market reports, cultural texts and photographs by the photographer Ernest Cole, who recorded the toil of black South Africans during the 1960s. Other editions of Jantjes’s work are held in significant Museum Collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum and Tate Gallery in London, and The South African National Gallery in Cape Town, and have been featured in notable exhibitions, such as South Africa: the art of a nation at the British Museum in 2016.

Enquiries: +44 (0)207 293 5696

El Anatsui, TAGOMIZOR,  Estimate on request

William Kentridge, Kinetic Sculpture , (Bicycle Wheel), Estimate £70,000-90,000

Gavin Jantjes ,  Colour these Blacks White , Detail: A South African Colouring Book,  Eleven screen prints with collage and card folder (1974),  Estimate £40,000-60,000

Bodys Isek Kingelez, New Wax, Estimate £20,000-30,000

David Goldblatt, ‘Soccer city stadium and the ruins of Shareworld. The stadium was built especially for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Shareworld was a theme park for the people of Soweto, it was built and went bankrupt in the 1980s. 6 June 2009.’,  Estimate £12,000-18,000

Kudzanai Chiurai, Ebony, Estimate £10,000-15,000