Mother City of art in Africa


The Citizen (KZN) - - Hammer & Gavel -

The South African Art Mar­ket: Pric­ing & Pat­terns re­port has all the data.

Art col­lec­tors, mu­seum di­rec­tors, cu­ra­tors and gal­lerists from Africa and Europe will de­scend on Cape Town next week to soak up all the ex­hi­bi­tions, a new Tri­en­nale (in Stel­len­bosch) and two con­tem­po­rary auc­tions all timed to co­in­cide with Cape Town’s an­nual art fair.

Cape Town has be­come the lead­ing art cap­i­tal on the African con­ti­nent, beat­ing Joburg, La­gos and Mar­rakesh, ac­cord­ing to a new study. This is one of the many find­ings in The South African Art Mar­ket: Pric­ing & Pat­terns, a 88-page re­port map­ping pat­terns in South Africa’s ma­jor art cap­i­tals.

Pro­duced by Cor­ri­gall & Co, a South African-based art re­search con­sul­tancy, the re­port of­fers an anal­y­sis of the gallery land­scape and the pric­ing trends in the coun­try. The re­sults are based on in­ten­sive data gath­er­ing and anal­y­sis of 52 com­mer­cial art gal­leries, 198 ex­hi­bi­tions and art fair price lists per­tain­ing to 194 artists and in­ter­views with in­dus­try lead­ers.

Ri­valry be­tween Cape Town and Joburg has raged for years, as more gal­leries, art fairs and events have been es­tab­lished in each over the last decade. An es­ti­mated 50 art plat­forms – from gal­leries, fairs, events – have been es­tab­lished in South Africa since 2007, ac­cord­ing to the study. Around 70% of them are com­mer­cial gal­leries.

This new study (for now) puts this bat­tle be­tween Cape Town and Joburg to rest, quan­ti­fy­ing not only the num­ber of art plat­forms, or ex­hi­bi­tions in each city but the in­sti­tu­tional weight and in­flu­ence they wield in the global art mar­ket. Joburg may boast more art fairs, cor­po­rate art mu­se­ums and gal­leries, but there is a higher con­cen­tra­tion of sec­ond, third and fourth tier gal­leries in Cape Town than in Joburg.

The pri­vate art mu­se­ums in Cape Town, such as the Zeitz Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary African Art and the Nor­val

Foun­da­tion, were found to carry more in­sti­tu­tional weight than those in Joburg. More con­tem­po­rary lots (made af­ter 1980) were of­fered by the ma­jor auc­tion houses (Strauss & Co and As­pire Art Auc­tions) in Cape Town in 2018. This fig­ure is set to rise this year as both of these auc­tion houses will be of­fer­ing new (As­pire & Pi­asa) and larger (Strauss & Co) auc­tions this month to ex­ploit the at­ten­tion the art fair in this city is ex­pected to gen­er­ate.

Cape Town also boasts the largest art fair on the con­ti­nent. Sixty gal­leries will par­tic­i­pate in the In­vestec Cape Town Art Fair this year, op­posed to 24 in Lat­i­tudes (Joburg) in 2019 and a mere 20 in Art Joburg and Art X La­gos in 2019 and 1:54 Mar­rakesh (tak­ing place on Fe­bru­ary 22). There is also strong par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Cape Town art fair by gal­leries based in Europe (41% this year).

“Much of the rea­son the art plat­forms in Cape Town en­joy a higher sta­tus is that they are lo­cated in a tourist mag­net. Some gal­leries say up to 70% of sales in this city are to for­eign vis­i­tors,” says Mary Cor­ri­gall, founder of Cor­ri­gall & Co.

Com­ment­ing on the study, Bri­ony Brookes, PR and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­ager at Cape Town Tourism, says, “In Cape Town we are famed for our nat­u­ral won­ders; our beaches, winelands, and moun­tains. So when you con­sider what our art com­mu­nity is competing with, it’s some­thing vis­i­tors can per­haps be for­given for over­look­ing.

“But while for­give­ness is granted, ex­cuses will not be ac­cepted. That’s be­cause the art scene in Cape Town can and should no longer be ig­nored. Art in Cape Town is alive, ex­cit­ing and def­i­nitely on par with what’s on of­fer in ma­jor in­ter­na­tional cities around the world.”

The study also gives pric­ing trends re­lat­ing to the sta­tus of SA gal­leries and artists.

Pic­ture: iStock

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