Going, Going, Going: Auction Signals the Continuing Rise of Kenya’s Sizzling Art Scene

The World’s Craziest Bar by Joseph Bertiers sold for Ksh821,800 ($9,600) at the recent East African art auction. Photograph by Circle Art Agency.

 

Nairobi, Kenya: On Tuesday night, Nairobi held its first major, international commercial auction of East African art. The auction, organised by the Circle Art Agency, featured 47 works from 43 artists from six countries spanning the last four decades. In terms of sales, it was a huge success, with 90% of the works going for a combined Ksh18.5 million ($216,000).

But in a region long ignored by serious art collectors, and in a city that has mainly catered to foreign art buyers, the auction’s biggest achievement was that over half the works sold to Kenyans. Though that fact is partly a symptom of the ‘Africa Rising’ story of growing middle classes, it also marks an arrival for an unlikely city that has forged a unique modern art history.  Read more…

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