Blue chip vs red chip art
What are they, and how do they stack up to each other?
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Seasoned art collectors are very familiar with the terms “blue chip art” and albeit newly coined, “red chip art”. If you are not a seasoned collector, you may wonder what these two terms mean.
Blue chip art. Where did this term come from? What does it mean? Why blue?
In business, any company referred to as “blue chip” depicts that they are most likely the largest and oldest and are industry leaders whose values are universally accepted.
In art, blue chip art is created by the world’s most renowned artists whose works and position in the art market have been reinforced by many years of extraordinary sales volume. Artists who fall into this category are often household names. Think, Grillo, Ben Enwonwu, El Anatsui, and the likes. They have a track record of achieving high, if not record-breaking, auction sales. They also have incredible gallery and institutional support in a way that ensures their market value is consistently soaring. This support system anchors them in such a way that it is impossible for them to fail in market performance.
Blue chip art is reliably going to increase in value no matter what, and you can place your bet on this type of art. If you’re looking for consistent high value art investment, blue chip art is your best option.
Red chip art is quite the opposite. Red chip artists do not enjoy the type of support and recognition blue chip artists get. Red chip artists are typically new to the art market. Red chip artists have garnered a lot of respect, following, and success through social media so much so that their works skip the traditional process and have now reached the auctions, selling for staggering prices. Their performance in the markets are in a way that is not predictable and in no way, traditional. They lack a strong primary market because they skipped that process and are now selling at 200 – 500% of the lower range of their lot in auctions.
Being a red chip artist is not a question of one’s ability or talent, but rather it shows that they are still on their journey to possibly attain a blue chip status.
We live in an interesting time where wealth creation and distribution are being disrupted like never before. A lot of new money is getting into art and they are not the typical and seasoned collector. However, they are in possession of disposable cash to buy any kind of art because it is possibly a new interest they have taken on. A lot of times, the collectors of red chip art are new money and in the art world they are what we have coined to be “ the flippers”. The flippers buy art with the intention to flip it at an auction or private art sale within a set time frame for exceptional returns. Whilst this is great and in this new age, attainable, the danger herein lies with the person who has now purchased a red chip art at an outrageous figure. (S)he is now in possession of a piece of artwork by a red chip artist that does not have a stable primary market. This new collector would have to devise ways to protect the artist, the art, and the value at which this art piece was purchased.
If you have purchased a red chip art, the only way for you to ensure it has staying value and power is to put it to work. Get it to be talked about in art literature and/or if you can, donate it to an art institution. This creates and builds conversation and credibility around it. In simple terms, put the piece to work. Make sure it has primary access especially because it skipped the primary market to get into the secondary market.
In a later newsletter, we will delve more into the different art markets and their individual relevance, their significance to each other, and how to navigate them.
Art Index Top 5
Welcome to 2022! From the jury and I, we hope you had a splendid holiday season. What are your art investment goals for this new year? This inaugural article for 2022 brings yet another exquisite selection for Art Index’s top 5. Art Index Africa’s jury presents a showdown of the top 5 well researched and curated art pieces every collector should want to purchase based on strong technique, message, style, and medium.
Here are our picks for this week’s article:
Artist: Oladotun Abiola • Titled: Antiques • Medium: Mixed Media on Canvas • Size: 5ft x 5ft” • Year: 2021 • Estimate: $1,325
Antiques is a painting sampling the artist’s perception of some of the African masquerade pantheons and spirits.
There’s a deliberate stylising of the forms to give them a contemporary feel without compromising the ancient essence deducible in their faces.
Artist: Oladele Ogbeyemi • Titled: The Return of the Ape • Medium: Mixed Media • Size: 84” x 63” • Year: 2021 • Estimate: $13,921
“This piece was inspired by the movie, The Return of Ape. It inspired me and also supported my ideology of animals in the future. We have seen apes display human war formation and tactics in their defence system, which also has a huge connection to the title of this series, Arunko Seynihun (Animal in humans’ character).
Apes have improved in the ability to exhibit humans’ skills and features in their daily routine, and I believe that if they are scientifically taught how to use guns, they will comprehend and start using guns to defend themselves and their territory.”
Artist: Anthonia Nnenna Ndukauba • Titled: Friday Night • Medium: Mixed Media • Size: 18” x 22” • Year: 2021 • Estimate: $1,000
“A little wine on a Friday night is good for the soul. This piece was created after two months of artist block. I was quite overwhelmed and decided to visit the beach with some of my close acquaintances. Upon my return, I felt free. I felt the urge to document my experience at the beach but I couldn’t find the words to pen down anything.
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So as an artist would, I got some colors and started to paint on my alabaster paper, also infusing my one-line drawing on the colors. That was when it occurred to me that the art I just created was the scenery of the beach; the dark shades, the glass of wine, the hat, and the bare body. If you would observe closely, you can see that the colors are earthy colors, which represents the common colors that define beaches. This piece broke down my block and that paved the way for more creativity after 2 months of hiatus.”
Artist: Udegbe • Titled: JAGUNMOLU Warrior Horse • Medium: Bronze • Size: 3ft • Year: 2019 • Estimate: $1,180
“JAGUNMOLU, is a warrior horse. The statues showcase the strength of horses in the period of War and the risks they pass through to defend and support their masters. The African slave trade was closely tied to the imports of war horses. However, as the slave trade decreased and was eventually abolished, the need for horses for raiding and defending villages were decreased until they became obsolete.”
Artist: Emeka Nwagbara • Titled: Elegance – series 1 • Medium: Acrylic on Canvas • Size: 20” x 30” • Year: 2021 • Estimate: $750
“Elegance, is a painting inspired by one of my longest running series “gele ‘ – a painting of women getting dressed for an occasion, adorned in elaborate head gears that complimented their dresses. With elegance, I needed to depict the beauty and elegance of femininity in abstraction using just shapes, lines, and colours.
This is the first in a series that promises to run for a while.”