During the month of June 2020, Paris hosted several major events highlighting the works of artists from the black continent. Among the most striking, the African art auction held on June 24th in the premises of the Piasa house crystallized the interest of enthusiasts. Despite the difficult context linked to the coronavirus pandemic, this new edition was indeed a real success, with a new sales record for the benefit of the continent’s visual artists.

More than 1.5 million euros in revenue

As we announced in a previous article, Piasa has chosen to bet again on the richness of African culture to bring together art lovers from around the world. While the Covid-19 is raging and raises many questions, the Parisian auction house has brought together works from all over the continent.

On the list of artists, there were great names such as Chéri Samba, Dominique Zinpkè, Malick Sidibé, Oluwole Olofemi, Omar Ba or Slimen El Kamel, to name but a few. A total of 172 lots were put up for sale. They were torn off like hotcakes. Result of the races: €1,545,330, excluding expenses. The Parisian auction house has thus set a new record for the sale of African art, following the €1.4 million sale in November 2019.

Focus on lot 107, the most expensive of this auction

For this sale, South African art was particularly in the spotlight. Thanks to a collaboration with various South African houses, such as Aspire Art Auctions and the Goodman Gallery, the Piasa house showcased several works produced by artists from this country, which has experienced a real cultural effervescence in recent years.

107_1 Auction of African art: new record for the house Piasa
© William Kentridge, Drawing from Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City after Paris (Soho Eating),1989 – African Art Auction / Maison Piasa – juin 2020

And it is among these works that the most expensive of this auction of African art is to be found. It is lot 107, by the South African painter William Kentridge. Estimated between €190,000 and €250,000, it was finally sold for the trifle of €232,200. Entitled Johannesburg, the second largest city after Paris (Soho Eating), the work was created in 1989, in the midst of the apartheid period, when the country was undergoing profound changes.

The artist describes it as a symbol of the unconscious greed of the men in power. Associated with the first of ten Soho Eckstein films, the drawing had already been exhibited in various galleries in Brussels, Washington, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Munich. A great operation for William Kentridge, multi-casquette artist, sculptor, graphic designer, musician, filmmaker, but also director for theater and opera.

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