Modern and contemporary art from Africa auction a huge success

Bidders competed from the venue, by telephone and via the online channel to get their hands on some truly amazing works of art.

Spirited bidding for excellent works by celebrated artists Ablade Glover, Nelson Makamo, Zanele Muholi, Cinga Samson, Gerard Sekoto and Prince Twins Seven-Seven was a hallmark of Strauss & Co’s inaugural two-part auction of modern and contemporary art from Africa.

A dynamic collaboration between Strauss & Co and various industry experts, Curatorial Voices: Modern and Contemporary Art from Africa attracted a strong cohort of new buyers and achieved solid returns for sellers. Some of the highlights were:

  • Determined bidding for excellent works by celebrated African artists
  • Ten artist records including SA records for Cinga Samson and Simphiwe Ndzube
  • Gerard Sekoto church scene from 1947 fetched the highest price
  • Cinga Samson self-portrait is best performing contemporary work
  • Combined sales of R14 576 646/$801 992 with a sell-through rate of 68.24%
  • Estimate-beating results posted by Ablade Glover, Nelson Makamo, Zanele Muholi and Prince Twins Seven-Seven

The auction established new record prices for ten artists, including South African records for painters Cinga Samson and Simphiwe Ndzube, as well as saw five artists debut at auction with Strauss & Co, among them Weaam El-Masry and Sizwe Sibisi. Combined sales from the online and live sessions totalled R14 576 646/ $801 992 with a respectable sell-through rate of 68.24%.

Frank Kilbourn, chairperson of Strauss & Co, says: “I am very satisfied with the outcome of our first live sale for 2023. Curatorial Voices was an ambitious marketing initiative that broke new ground for Strauss & Co. The auction was a first of its kind collaboration for us, involving input on consigning artworks from experts with embedded knowledge of their regions in the continent.”

Strauss and Co launched the sale with an outstanding exhibition in our new Woodstock premises during the week of the Investec Cape Town Art Fair, enabling them to introduce our bold new vision to local and international art collectors. They also sponsored and hosted the inaugural Art Business Conference in Africa to discuss key issues in today’s art market with artists, dealers, curators and collectors, which was well attended. All these initiatives laid the groundwork for our important sale, which showcased Strauss & Co’s capability to service a global collector base from Africa.

Kate Fellens, joint head of sales, adds: “This sale marked an important moment in collecting African art. To see collectors, curators and artists coming together from different cities across the African continent, and across the world, in Cape Town, underscores the main focus of this sale: Collaboration. It was an honour to present works by some of the greatest modernist and contemporary artists of our day. I was greatly encouraged by the positive response of the art community to the exhibition, the one-day conference and, importantly, the auction itself.”

The premier evening session witnessed noteworthy sales. A rare 2016 self-portrait by painter Cinga Samson that announced his current style sold to a room bidder for R2 173 125 / $118 863, a new South African record. There was strong bidding for a 2017 self-portrait by Zanele Muholi (R293 125 / $16 033), as well as a 2017 charcoal and crayon portrait of Grammy-winning musician Black Coffee by Nelson Makamo (R246 225/ $13 468).

Modernist painters held their own, with Gerard Sekoto’s affecting devotional scene, Prayer in Church from 1947, fetching R3 431 25/ $187 678, the highest price for an individual work in the sale. Works by Central and West African artists also did well, with standout results achieved for a 1974 figural scene by renowned Oshogbo school painter Prince Twins Seven-Seven (R140 700/ $7 696) and a 1986 urban vista by Ablade Glover (R257 950/ $14 109). Other notable sales were achieved for Cyrus Kabiru, Douglas Mbemba, Simphiwe Ndzube and Thierry Oussou.

Kirsty Colledge, joint head of sales says: “This sale generated widespread interest and drew a full house to the evening live sale. It was a pleasure to see bidders seamlessly compete with each other from the floor, by telephone and via our online channel. I would like to thank our collaborators – Dana Endundo Ferreira, Heba Elkayal, Danda Jaroljmek, Anne Kariuki, Valerie Kabov, Kimberley Cunningham and Serge Tiroche – for their invaluable contributions in making Curatorial Voices such a great success.”

For more information, visit www.straussart.co.za

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