Few disasters have tested the resilience of global economies as the Covid-19 pandemic and its related restrictions have over the past 18 months. Experience-based, brick-and-mortar businesses such as art galleries and museums were rendered near unworkable. This pause in the primary market shored up the role of the secondary art market as a crucial contributor to the sustainability of the global art industry at large.
This forced art lovers and potential art buyers who require physical experience of art objects before deciding to acquire them, to take the back seat, as auction houses and consultancies like Aspire Art Auctions intensified its business and hybrid sales models to service the growing online demand. As an auction house central to the growing global market in African art, Aspire has seen a constant rise in demand for their insight and knowledge base, and the associated suite of services, including art consulting and collections management services.
Buoyed by growing participation in online auctions and private sales, Aspire provides collectors with the benefits gleaned from expert art advisory services and elite market insight provided through their pool of world-class specialist knowledge.
The result was higher performance averages during the month hardest hit by the pandemic. Aspire saw record sales of young contemporary female artists such as Mary Sibande, whose work A Terrible Beauty is Born sold for a record R341,400 at its March 2020 Cape Town auction, as the pandemic and initial lockdown first set in.
This year, a triptych by Turiya Magadlela titled Walking Spirits IV, V and VI, from her Inequalities series of 2018/9, sold for a record R356,781.80 at Aspire’s Paris sale in June. The same auction saw Godwin Champs Namuyinda‘s Dreamers achieve a record of R1,369,057.85 while Ayanda Mabulu’s large and impressive painting, Nontsundu, achieved a world record of R404,242.14. These record-setting achievements endorse Aspire’s position as a leading player in the global art market for the finest African modern and contemporary art, and further sanctions the expertise of its diverse team of specialists.
As global markets bounce back and the art world looks forward to some return to normality, collectors who were reluctant to sell works at the height of the pandemic are returning. The second half of 2021 also saw the return of single-owner collection sales. This auction format brings the holdings amassed by the world’s wealthy collectors over long periods of time to the open market, and this often means highly coveted and rarely seen works become available to the public, often for the first time in years, even generations. Auction houses such as Aspire guide the deaccessioning of single-owner and family collections to maximise value, legacy and returns to collectors on both sides of the transactions.
As SA is set to increase vaccinations and reopen for business, Aspire is poised to assist business activity figures rise to increasingly mirror northern art centers. In the global North, according to the London-based art market analytics firm Pi-eX report, the top public auction houses saw a 405% year-over-year increase in sales during the second quarter of 2021 between April and June. African art auction houses, according to the Corrigall & Co art market report, have increased 22% in the first six months of 2021, compared with 2020.
To celebrate the approaching return to normality, Aspire will host its Modern & Contemporary Art Auction, as a live, physical event, and a series of activations this September. This sale will showcase Aspire’s new premises in the burgeoning Cape Town art hub of De Waterkant. The new offices and gallery space are housed in a building that combines old-world charm with contemporary functionality and elegance. The redesigned historic catholic church cottage has been reimagined to suit the strategic needs of a growing, forward-looking African art auction house. The building’s voluminous halls and generous proportions are a perfect gallery facility to showcase grand artworks in the best possible light, and host live auction events on the same site that the company has offices.
The September auction will bring a partial return of in-person bidders, complemented by a live-streamed online offering and telephone bidding in the mix. Divided into a modern art evening sale on September 29, and a contemporary art evening sale on September 30, the sale collection comprises a selection of top-quality lots.
Collectors can look forward to exceptional works by many of SA’s big signatures, including William Kentridge, Robert Hodgins, Penny Siopis, Edoardo Villa, Sydney Kumalo, JH Pierneef and Walter Battiss, among others. Also featured is an exciting collection of contemporary artists from elsewhere in Africa – Patrick Bongoy and Zemba Luzamba from the Congo, Moustapha Baïdi Oumarou from Cameroon and Gerald Chukwuma from Nigeria.
Art is made to be shared, and Aspire invites all lovers of art to view the collection at their new gallery at 37A Somerset Road, De Waterkant, Cape Town. Viewing is open daily from 9am to 4pm, and on the weekends.
Contact +27 (0) 21-418-0765 or visit the Aspire Art Auctions for more information.
* This article was paid for by Aspire Art Auctions.