Irma Stern
Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966), Magnolias. Sold for £504,300.

Stern and Enwonwu Top Bonhams African Art Sale in London

London – Magnolias by South African artist Irma Stern (1894-1966) was the top lot at Bonhams Modern & Contemporary African Art sale today (19 October) in Londonachieving an impressive £504,300.

The 58-lot sale made a total of £1,970,573.

Another highlight of the sale was Africa Dances by Benedict Enwonwu (Nigerian, 1917-1994), which achieved £151,500. Painted in 1970, the work conveys the vibrance and freedom of African dance. The ‘Africa Dances’ series began as a result of Geoffrey Gorer’s 1935 book of the same name. A critique of colonial rule, the publication documented both Dance and Masquerade throughout West Africa. It was whilst studying in England that Enwonwu was inspired by the work, feeling compelled to illustrate his opinion about his culture in Nigeria and the subsequent impact of colonialism. Africa Dances can be seen as a celebration of Nigerian Independence – which Nigeria had gained from the British a decade earlier in 1960.

Benedict Chukwukadibia
Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu M.B.E (Nigerian, 1917-1994), Africa Dances.

Giles Peppiatt, Bonhams Group Head, Fine Art, U.K, commented: “We are very pleased with the results of today’s sale, which certainly demonstrated a strong demand for expressive works by some of the key African artists, as well as emerging contemporary African talent.”

Other highlights in the sale included:

  • Another work celebrating Nigerian independence was also amongst the highlights of the sale. Negritude by Bruce Onobrakpeya (born 1932) sold for £35,580.
  • Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966), Siesta. Sold for £113,700.
  • Benedict Enwonwu (Nigerian, 1917-1994), UtutuSold for £113,700.
  • Gerard Sekoto (South African, 1913-1993), Three ChildrenSold for £126,300.
  • Dylan Lewis (South African, born 1964), Striding TigerSold for £75,900.
  • Abdoulaye Diarrassouba “Aboudia” (Ivorian, born 1983), Untitled. Sold for £75,900.

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