“contemporary African art”

Marie-Ann Yemsi: “Our future is African”

The curator of the upcoming Bamako Photography Encounters retraces her passion for contemporary African art and the belated discovery of the wealth of this creative continent. Following studies that led her to managerial positions for international groups, Marie-Ann Yemsi made a sea change in 2005 when she set up Agent Créatif(s), an agency that would allow her to combine her appetite for contemporary art and her thirst for entrepreneurship. Her German and Cameroonian origins led her from voyage to voyage, from adventure to adventure. Not merely limiting herself to the task of supervising the African focus of Art Paris Art Fair, she is also curating the exhibition “Le jour qui vient” at the Galerie des Galeries. In December, the public can also discover her selection of video artists and photographers at the 11th Bamako Photography Encounters. Marie-Ann Yemsi explains to us why this is now finally the time of contemporary African art, and why it’s long overdue! When does your passion for contemporary art date back to? My early childhood. My parents always took me to museums. We also travelled a great deal, to several continents, which probably helped me to forget a certain openness to looking at things… After I spent a first part of my career in the luxury and communication sectors, I wanted to find an activity which would let me to live out my passion. This is how I set up Agent Créatif(s), a structure at the crossways between a consultancy firm and a project-support agency, specialised in contemporary African art and artistic production. Tell us about how you met Guillaume Piens and the organisers of Art Paris. I met him at my “Odyssées africaines” exhibition at the Brass in Brussels, presenting 16 Southeast African artists. These were key pieces by a young generation that...

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André Magnin: It seems that contemporary African art is in…

The latest dinner-debate organised by Art Media Agency put the spotlight on André Magnin, a renowned specialist in African art, invited to talk on the theme: “It seems that contemporary African art is in…” Dishevelled white hair, an air of cheekiness behind his round glasses, a — deliberate? — distractedness, a neglectful chicness about him. André Magnin is a big traveller who has crisscrossed Africa from one end to another. Already, his free spirit, tending towards provocativeness, is suggested by the title which he chose for this dinner-debate: “It seems that contemporary African art is in…” As far as Magnin goes, African art has been a strong trend for a long time already, possibly dating back to his childhood in Madagascar. And definitely by the time that he started winding his way through the Dark Continent in the mid 1980s — as well as Papua New Guinea and the “Great North” —, looking for new artists for the exhibition “Les Magiciens de la Terre” (Magicians of the Earth), which he organised in conjunction with Jean-Hubert Martin. The exhibition was presented in 1989, jointly at the Centre Pompidou and the Grande Halle de la Villette. This was the first exhibition of the type to really pay an interest in non-Western arts. From Magicians of the Earth to the CAAC But the real shift occurred when André Magnin became artistic director of the Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC), a private collection owned by Italian investor Jean Pigozzi, which has emerged in the last two decades as a reference in the art world. It was André Magnin, more or less, who set up the collection containing some 12,000 pieces. Gathering works was one thing; what was also necessary was to show them, to make them known. A task to which André Magnin devoted himself from 1989...

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Springtime for contemporary African art?

Africa has been rousing huge interest on the international art market for some time now. As the AKAA, a Parisian fair for contemporary African art and design fair opens, Art Media Agency has turned its gaze to events related to the African art scene. A panorama. 17,000 visitors gathering just to see African art! As a reference name in contemporary African art, the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair attracted 40 galleries representing 18 countries to its third edition, held in October 2016 in London. In terms of sales, the edition can also be considered a success. In particular, a record price of about €337,000 was recorded for a work by Caribbean artist Zak Ové. “This is an encouraging reflection of the growing popularity of contemporary African art,” observes the fair’s founder, Touria El Glaoui. In Paris, where African-themed events and exhibitions have multiplied in the last two years, a new contemporary African art fair has just emerged. Called Also Known As Africa, this first contemporary African art and design fair to be organised in France presents around thirty galleries, about half of which hail from Africa. Time will tell whether AKAA will reach the same scale as 1:54. For now, its founder, young French-American Victoria Mann expresses modest hopes of welcoming between 5,000 and 8,000 visitors. The burgeoning of the contemporary African art market can also be seen in the rise in the number of other fairs turning their attention to Africa, for example this year’s Armory Show in New York or else the 2017 Art Paris Art Fair. Despite the continent popping up everywhere in this way, the number of fairs which concentrate solely on contemporary African art remains limited. And let’s remember that the biggest international contemporary-art fairs don’t always pay much attention to Africa. Until 2015,...

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The African art scene in the eyes of the North

While contemporary African art has been gaining more and more visibility each year since the turning of the 20th century, it seems that 2015 marks the consecration of Africa onto the international art scene. With the Nigerian commissioner and critic Okuwi Enwezor as artistic director of the classical art section of the 56th Biennale de Venise (which runs until 22 November), the award of the Lion d’Or to Ghanaian artist El Anatsui for the contribution of his career, the first New York edition of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair from 15 to 17 May 2015 and the launch of AKAA (Also Known as Africa) from 3 to 6 December 2015 in Paris, attention is turning more and more towards the African art scene. In 2014, Touria El Glaoui, founder of 1.54 Contemporary Art Fair, (which is taking place in London until 18 October 2015), said to Art Media Agency: “I believe that it’s one of the last continents to be discovered, there still hasn’t been a focus on Africa.” The deployment of contemporary African art on an international scale can be traced back to the end of the 1980s, notably with the foundation of Dak’Art in 1989, the oldest biennale in Africa, and with the Rencontres de Bamako in Mali in 1994, whose 10th year will take place from 31 October to 31 December 2015. In 1989, in France, Jean-Hubert Martin, the curator of the exhibition “Magiciens de la Terre” at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, sought to extend contemporary art, which seemed to him to be solely reserved for the West, to include African artistic expression. However, the Africa that now presents a new wave of opportunities for the art market is a continent of many different faces. Amongst its 54 countries, the cultures and artistic practices are as...

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1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair 2015

1:54, Europe’s leading art fair dedicated to Contemporary African Art, is to make its New York debut from 15 until 17 May 2015. The third edition of 1:54 London is also to be held from 15 until 18 October 2015. A reference to the 54 countries that constitute the African continent, the title 1:54 establishes the fair’s ethos: a platform that strives to represent multiplicity and showcase the diversity of contemporary African art and cultural production on an international stage. The fair will be accompanied by an educational and artistic programme curated by Koyo Kouoh, and includes lectures, film screenings, and panel debates featuring leading international curators, artists, and art experts. 1:54 is initiated by market developer Touria El Glaoui under Art Africa Ltd. Designed by Rashid-Ali / RA Projects, 1:54 NY will be held at Pioneer Works, an industrial building in the neighbourhood of Brooklyn. 1:54 London takes place at Somerset House, a historic building and major cultural arts centre in the heart of...

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