The contemporary African art fair 1-54 made its African debut in Marrakech, Morocco, in the Grand Salon of the ritzy La Mamounia, one of Winston Churchill’s favorite hotels. Held over the weekend, 1-54 welcomed 4,000 visitors to view the offerings of 17 international galleries, which exhibited more than 60 contemporary artists from across Africa and its diaspora. Sales were strong, but with the exception of a few rising stars, prices generally ranged from $1,000–20,000—still lower than other markets. That dynamic has many wondering what the fertile African art scene still needs to do in order for the market to fully blossom.
The fair was heaving with international collectors while high-profile museum directors and curators made the trip to Marrakech. The director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Glenn Lowry, and the Tate’s Zoe Whitley, who co-curated “Soul of a Nation” with Mark Godfrey, were spotted roaming the booths. The fair also reported attendance from directors and curators from The Smithsonian, Zeitz MOCAA and Centre Pompidou.