CityLife Arts

Local art fair Latitudes partners with Artnet to curate major art auction focusing on contemporary art from Africa

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

South Africa’s Latitude Art fair, which was launched in 2019,  has scored a significant deal on the contemporary art scene as it will co-cutate a major art fair with a major international art platform.

Latitudes which launched its online edition in 2020 following the outbreak of the Covid-19 global pandemic in 2020, disrupting the traditional way of holding art fairs where collectors attend physically,  will co-curate with Artnet, the Africa Present auction this year..

Latitudes will be co-curating Artnet Auctions’ second Africa Present sale, an auction designed to

highlight the work of up-and-coming as well as established artists from the African continent.

Artnet is a leading resource for buying, selling, and researching art online. Founded in 1989, the online platform has revolutionised the way people discover and collect art today.

 “Latitudes is thrilled to be able to partner with a giant of the industry, in order to both broaden the collector base for art from Africa and set values for contemporary, living artists on the auction market,” says Lucy MacGarry, co-founder of Latitudes Online yesterday..

The Africa Present auction, a partnership between Artnet and Africa First by Serge Tiroche, is a dynamic initiative that uses the reach, contacts, and capabilities of Artnet’s global art marketplace to raise awareness about contemporary artists from Africa. In a forward-thinking bid to feature artists across all career stages, the auction lots are categorised into three sections: Meet, Support and Invest.

Latitudes Online, which was founded during the 2020 lockdown, has made a name for itself, not only as a platform that promotes and sells art from the African continent, but also as an organisation that focuses on identifying and supporting new talent. It was therefore a natural fit for the two parties to come together, and for Latitudes to co-curate the Meet section of the upcoming sale, in which new talent is showcased.

“Currently, there is an explosion of fresh talent on the continent, and we’re delighted to be

able to introduce these new voices to the huge global audience that Artnet has built over the past 32 years,” says Roberta Coci, co-founder of Latitudes Online.

Participating artists for the Meet selection include, among others: Cinthia Sifa Mulanga, Lwando Dlamini, Kimathi Mafafo, Manyaku Mashilo, Sthenjwa Luthuli and Shakil Solanki.

Bidders can also expect to find notable works by artists such as Bouvy Enkobo, Dennis Muraguri, Ablade Glover and Joseph Ntensibe in the Support and Invest sections of the sale.

The auction will take place from August 31 to September 14 2021.

The inaugural Africa Present auction took place in April 2021, and did extremely well, setting 11 artist auctions records (5 for new artists to auction, and 6 additional records).

With over 200,000 email subscribers, 3.2 million social media followers, and 12.5 million monthly page views sitewide, Artnet is a popular global art platform.

 “We can proudly attest to a landslide success of our first Africa Present auction that has enticed more competitive and early bidding than any other sale I have witnessed in my department since joining the company,” said Johannes Vogt, the Head of the Post-War and Contemporary Art department.

Artnet Auctions is having its biggest year on record, setting online auction revenue records, and defying the pandemic-related weakness that has affected much of the art market in 2020 and into 2021. As the fourth biggest auction house in terms of online sales behind Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips, Artnet has been pushing forward with new initiatives, and succeeding in expanding its overall market presence, Vogt added.

Africa First was founded by Tiroche in 2017 as a platform to support and promote Contemporary

Art from the continent.  Tiroche has broad experience as a collector, gallery owner, dealer, curator and art fund manager. Following seven years running the Tiroche DeLeon Collection, he decided to focus his private collecting and his residency program on emerging artists from Africa and the African diaspora.

The Africa First collection now exceeds 400 works by some 150 artists from Africa and the diaspora, and is fully available online for curators to browse. Besides acquisitions, the platform commissions work, sponsors prizes, initiates projects and exhibitions, advises collectors and other market participants and is active on social media. Africa First is proud to have conceived of and developed Africa Present – the African Contemporary art department at Artnet.

Conetmporary art from Africa has in recent years enjoyed consistent global interest as collectors have been focussing their attention on Africa to expand their collection of art.

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