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Enwonwu, Grillo dominate Modern African Art auction

Ben Enwonwu (Nigerian, 1917-1994) 'Africa Dances

Ben Enwonwu (Nigerian, 1917-1994) ‘Africa Dances

Collectors looking for the next big thing are bidding for its beauty and on their investment to grow exponentially. Wednesday’s auction was proof these are safe bets, with a number of world records achieved, the top 10 pictures in the
sale were dominated by two Nigerian names, Ben Enwonwu nand Yusuf Grillo.

The most valuable item in the sale was by African modernist and pioneer Ben Enwonwu, an elegant bronze figure, Anyanwu Simplified, which bears many similarities to the sculpture commissioned for the National Museum of Lagos in

It was the top lot in the sale at £74,500. His painting, Africa Dances, 1973, depicting an energetic dance that serves, as a metaphor for Africa’s identity, sold for £68,500, and was the second highest price.

Side by side, African masters represented the cultural wealth of the continent, with works from Mozambique, Ghana,
Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Chief Wanda Ibru and Cecilia Zoppelletto

For centuries, African and European art were two separate worlds, not connecting. However, by 1950 a handful of artists emerged who were interested in bridging the gap between the two cultures.

The Nigerian artistic movement created by Ben Enwonwu (1917-1994), Uzo Egonu (1931-1996) and Yusuf Grillo (born 1934), was instrumental in orchestrating this change that paved the way for the next generation who are truly international in their aesthetic and exhibit their work all over the world.

Always a believer that art is the true ambassador, awakening interest and establishing a dialogue, it was galvanising
to find the auction drew a very mixed crowd of Africans, Americans and Europeans. As inspiring as the intellectual
argument is what is obvious is that everyone wants to be part of the next big thing and that happens to be African art

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Modern Art Auction
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