Modern African Art More Prevalent in International Eyes

A man looking though the 1:54 Fair. Image by Denzil Hugh Dean for 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair

A man looking though the 1:54 Fair. Image by Denzil Hugh Dean for 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Africa has always been home to vibrant and radiant art. From each region of the continent, the history overflows with sculpture, masks, and paintings that show how creative the people are. Yet, in more recent centuries, African art has been ignored by the Western World. Save for historic artifacts in museums, the portrayal of creativity of Africa has been quite sparse. Some could say that there are many reasons for this, from many Africans being focused on traditional jobs, colonialism and fights for independence shifting attention elsewhere, or the Western fixation on the “African struggle”. Yet, it seems that the modern art society is starting to turn an eye towards our continent for a new artistic age.

In October, London hosted the first international fair dedicated to modern African art. It was called the 1:54 Contemporary Art Fair, and it featured up and coming artists from all over the continent. Kenya just held its first commercial art auction of modern and contemporary work, in which half of the art was bought by international buyers. Also, it’s been recently announced that Cape Town will harbor Africa’s first museum of contemporary art, being opened by V&A Waterfront. Expected to bring in locals from South Africa, it’s also expected to draw in internationals to see the art.

With the explosion of “firsts” happening when it comes to our art scene, and what more, the interest and participation of the international and Western worlds, one can wonder what this mean for us as a cultural community. One could also wonder why this hasn’t happened sooner. Do you have any thoughts on this?

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