African queen: we dip a regal toe in the rising tribal art market
- (opens in new tab)
- (opens in new tab)
- (opens in new tab)
- Sign up to our newsletter Newsletter
Hedi Slimane started it. Last year the Saint Laurent creative force du jour added some African accents to a private salon in the brand’s flagship on Faubourg Saint-Honoré. And then the worlds of fashion, design and art simply had to follow.
American designers, the Haas Brothers, created creatures fabricated by female weavers from South Africa, that are currently on display at New York's Cooper Hewitt. Next was Valentino, with their theme of Africa and its culture for 2016, announcing that new windows in selected flagships would feature ethnographic African art pieces with contemporary works by Serge Uberti. 3.1 Phillip Lim joined in too, with a spring 2016 campaign photographed in Ethiopia and led by Ethiopian model and philanthropist Liya Kebede.
'It’s about taking people back to the elements and exposing them to the real essence of life through Africa’s beauty', says Boyd Ferguson, CEO of Cécile and Boyd, the designers of conservation luxury brand Singita. With the latest incarnation of their flagship, Boulders Lodge, they removed anything dated as 'tribal' and gave it a contemporary feel worthy of the entire continent.
But, perhaps, it all started with Pablo Picasso (before Kanye appropriated him) and his love for African art. 'I long represented one of France’s greatest photographers Lucien Clergue,' says Spencer Throckmorton, owner of Throckmorton Fine Art in New York. ' Seeing his photographs of Picasso with his collection of African art eventually led me to look closely at African art – I was enchanted. The market for African art, dominated by masks and sculptures of the human figure, is really healthy.'
But galleries like Stevenson, in Johannesburg and Cape Town (with an array of world-class and award winning African artists) and Galerie Bernard Dulon in Paris (which has been promoting primitive art from Africa since 2002) have been laying the foundation. The world, evidently, is playing catch up.
Fashion: Isabelle Kountoure. As originally featured in the March 2016 issue of Wallpaper* (W*204)
Daniel Scheffler is a storyteller for The New York Times and others. He has a travel podcast with iHeart Media called Everywhere (opens in new tab) and a Substack newsletter, Withoutmaps (opens in new tab), where he shares all his wild ways. He lives in New York with his husband and their pup.
Feast your eyes: Nadine Ghosn brings cutlery-inspired jewellery to the table
Nadine Ghosn’s Youtensils jewellery collection brings a playfulness to the functional forms of the humble fork, spoon and disposable straw
By Hannah Silver • Published
Former builders’ yard transformed into a home and studio by Studio MacLean
This new project, a former builders’ yard in the Cotswolds, by Studio MacLean, showcases the design and build skills of Jason and Jenny Rose MacLean
By Jonathan Bell • Published
Herman Miller presents Alexander Girard posters from his panels designs
You can now buy Alexander Girard posters, inspired by his decorative panels, thanks to a new Herman Miller collection
By Pei-Ru Keh • Published
‘The Art of Advocacy’: Aïda Muluneh’s vivid photographs are forces for change
At Efie Gallery, Dubai, Aïda Muluneh’s upcoming show, ‘The Art of Advocacy’ (12 January – 24 February 2023) surveys the photographer’s art as a tool for change, and debuts a new work, revealed exclusively here
By Harriet Lloyd-Smith • Published
Sensuality and strength: Olivia Arthur photographs Saint Laurent for new exhibition
Olivia Arthur is one of six photographers taking part in the latest chapter of Saint Laurent’s ‘Self’ project – this time, an exhibition in collaboration with Magnum Photos. Here, she tells Wallpaper* more
By Jack Moss • Last updated
San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora reopens with Billie Zangewa and Amoako Boafo
Reopening for the first time since the onset of Covid-19, San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora is staging epic exhibitions by Amoako Boafo and Billie Zangewa
By Pei-Ru Keh • Last updated
Kudzanai-Violet Hwami’s modern-pop portraits frame gender, sexuality and race
The Zimbabwean-born artist, who explores identity through vivid cartoon-inspired collages, headlines our January 2021 Next Generation issue. Writer Amah-Rose Abrams interviewed Hwami ahead of today's announcement that she has joined the roster of Victoria Miro Gallery
By Amah-Rose Abrams • Last updated
Kudzanai-Violet Hwami creates limited-edition cover for Wallpaper’s January 2021 issue
Each month Wallpaper* offers a leading creative figure carte blanche to design a limited-edition cover. For our January 2021 Next Generation issue, young Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai-Violet Hwami drew on her experience of social media to create a new painting, Plains of the Christmas Cow.
By TF Chan • Last updated
Five African artists demonstrating creative resilience in challenging times
As the world is forced to embrace new social distancing measures, we look at how five very different African artists are finding creative solace in solitude
By Rebecca Anne Proctor • Last updated
Picture this! Jason Lloyd Evans' fashion show archive
The British photographer shares his favourite backstage images, from the runway shows of Prada, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga and more
By Laura Hawkins • Last updated
A virtual tour of Houston FotoFest: ‘Africa is everywhere'
Our digital review of the festival explores photography's historic link to colonialism and resistance, surveyed by 33 global African artists
By Tom Seymour • Last updated