Njideka Akunyili Crosby sells for over US$ 1 mio.

This isn't really the place for politics – So, let me just say that news from Nigeria this week have been less than pleasant again with bomb blasts in Maiduguri and the shooting of pro-Biafra protesters (although the army denied that). So, let's focus on the 'other,' more pleasant news that inspired me to write this post: This week a work by Njideka Akunyili Crosby sold for over US$ 1 million at an auction at Sotheby's New Work branch. Note, that's the second time she broke a record.

A new auction record was set for the Nigerian-born artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby in New York last week when "Drown" soared to sell for $1,092,500, over three times the high-estimate ($200,000-$300,000), in Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Sale. No fewer than 11 bidders competed for the work that was eventually sold to an anonymous buyer on the telephone.
This was the second time in less than two months that the auction record for Njideka Akunyili Crosby had been broken at Sotheby's. The previous auction record for the artist was $93,750, set by her "Untitled" work from 2011 at Sotheby's New York in September 2016.
"Drown" is an intimate self-portrait of the artist with her husband, Justin, and demonstrates beautifully how the layers of Njideka Akunyili Crosby's work reference the layers of her own identity.
In May next year, Sotheby's will launch its first dedicated sales of "African Modern and Contemporary Art" in London, led by Hannah O'Leary, Sotheby's recently-appointed Head of Modern and Contemporary African Art.
(source: This Day via AllAfrica.com)

I think that's amazing. Good for her. One can only hope that her success somewhat raises the profile of contemporary Nigerian arts. I do have my doubts though. Contemporary art does seem to experience some kind of renaissance in Nigeria at the moment – with major exhibitions and sales and Nigerian collectors picking up works. Still, Crosby's success probably reflects – in addition to her undoubtable talents – the fact that, although born in Enugu in 1983, she studied arts in the US (her CV mentions Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and Yale University School of Art in Connecticut) where she is still based. She lives in Los Angeles. In other words, she benefits from networks and a proximity to wealthy collectors that is denied to artists based in Nigeria. As I said, I don't envy her those privileges nor the success. I just think it's sad that in this day and age whether an artist is based in the so-called global north or south still matters this much.


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