Art by women is soaring in value as buyers seek to rewrite history

African-born artists set new records

Work by African women artists made remarkable strides in auction rankings last year — thanks in part to the vibrant growth of the African art scene, which recently welcomed new commercial spaces in countries like Nigeria and Ghana in what one art fair director described as a “visibility moment” for the continent.

It represents a long-overdue historical correction: art by Black American female artists comprised just 0.1 percent of global auction sales between 2008 and mid-2022, according to the Burns Halperin report.

Contemporary artist Julie Mehretu smashed her record in a month after Sotheby’s Americas chairman bid $10.7 million for her piece Walkers With the Dawn and Morning  the highest public price recorded by an African-born artist, according to ArtNews. Nigerian-American artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby and the late South African artist Irma Stern, both of whose work explores themes of cross-cultural identity, also ranked highly last year.

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