How to spot a valuation art

In this digest, we will learn why one piece of art is seemingly more valuable than others. We also take some time to celebrate 5 women in art exploring different forms and owning their mediums. These are the must watch 5 female artists.

Artist: Dare Adenuga | Title: Patience (time series) | Medium: Acrylics on canvas | Size: 54” x 54” | Price: $1,300

Art can get expensive and grow in value pretty fast. The global art industry was last valued to be over $67 billion in 2018. This is an all-time high for the industry and is a great indication that the value of art grows as sales are skyrocketing. This marketplace not only takes into account sales of artworks at auctions, exhibitions, and private sales, but also services rendered in the arts.
Technically, what makes anything valuable is that someone is willing to pay for it, at its going price. But, what really makes an art piece valuable? Why is one painting more valuable than the other? Why are people sometimes obsessed with acquiring a piece and are willing to pay tens of millions of dollars to possess it? Do they genuinely admire the piece or is it just to show off as a statement? Why does all of this matter?
We will consider a few factors that are solid determinants on how value is being placed on art pieces.
Value of the artist

Artist: Tola wewe | Title: Untitled | Medium: | Size: 60” x 96” | Year: 2021 | Estimate: $3,900 – $4,800

The profile or backstory of the artist is the first primary factor. This has to do with his background, education, exhibition history: solo and group, publications, etc. It also matters if the artist is alive or dead, or stopped producing. When this happens, the rules of demand and supply greatly affect the value placed on the artist and by extension, his/her art.
The work content comes next. Work content here refers to; techniques, medium, and subject matter as well. The size of the work is also important but not overly as relevant as the medium and period.

An artist who is faring well in the market will certainly command a higher price, irrespective of if the artwork is a strong piece or not, or if at all it commands staying power. This may explain why sometimes, you’d come in contact with some artworks in the possession of an individual or organisation that is highly priced but doesn’t always justify the value placed on it, because such a piece may come off as basic to you.

This is more important than you would have thought. It is the first thing to consider especially when collecting an older piece. A provenance is a documented history of all the people/organisations that had ever possessed a piece of artwork. If an art piece ever passed through the possession of a renowned collector, a respected gallery, or a celebrity, it’ll attract higher offers when put up for sale in the market.

A copy will always be a copy. An original piece by say, Thembalethu Manqunyana – who is well collected by many celebrities – will always be worth more than a copy, or even a print.

Preserved condition
If an art piece was treated like junk by it’s owner and looks really run down, it compromises it and such a piece will definitely not fare very well in the market. The reason for this is because the new collector would need to factor in restoration costs where/if possible.

The acceptability and popularity of the artist in the collecting community matters. Who is talking and buying the artist? How much impact and rounds has (s)he made in the circle of respected collectors or community, both primary and secondary audience such as Museums, institutions, critics, reviews, private and corporate collectors? A sought after artist fares well in the industry.

Explored Medium
The medium of an artwork also contributes to its value. Take for example, canvas works. They are typically worth a lot more than sketches on paper, photographs, or even prints.

Art Index Top 5 Women in Art
For this digest, the Art Index jury focuses on 5 Women In Art, to represent female artists doing good work. In this series, Art Index profiles and celebrates 5 women in the arts exploring different mediums and breaking boundaries. These are women to watch out for.

Bertha Onyekachi
“I might not have the power to create instant change in the society considering how much it needs to be salvaged, but I hope through painting, I give my voice of the ideal. Painting is therefore my voice, painting is my vote, painting is the mirror through which I communicate my strength to the world.”

Title: Biological clock 2 | Medium: Acrylic on canvas | Size: 48’x42” | Year: 2021 | Price: $1000
“Bertha is very expressive and mostly muses over the African woman, and the hurdles they face in society. Through her art, she tries to capture different periods, age groups, and emotions.”

“My goal is to inspire others who view my work to see the joys and beauty of life as a woman.”

Dolaposh in the woods

Breastfeeding – An intimate bonding moment between mother and child

Dolaposh and her muse, out in the fields

“Dolaposh explores photography as an art medium to express herself, and ‘document the little things of life’. As a new African mom in a pandemic who is deprived of feeling the overwhelming love of family around at such emotional moments, her daughter has been her greatest muse to cope. She uses her imaginations and ability to create to capture memories.”

Read also: WIT Nigeria launches Makeathon to upskill women in Nigeria

Juliet Ezenwa

Title: Maiden mask | Medium: Mixed media on canvas | Size: 91cm x 91cm | Year: 2017 | Price: $1,000

Juliet has quite an impressive profile and is a leading female contemporary artist in Nigeria. She’s used her art not only as a purveyor of African cultural heritage, but also as an advocacy for the rights of the girl child and women.

Omoyeni Arogunmati
“My paintings are a reflection of thought and activities within me, every stroke is an emotive action geared toward making the world a better place.”

Title: Fall Apart | Medium: oil on canvas | Size: 36” x 36” | Year: 2018 | Price: $450

Taiye Erewele
“It hits hard
too hard to believe
faith shaken
my head in the clouds thoughts traveling to and fro I thing for sure
time shall pass
and so,I’d rise
with my head held up high I’d be strong
I’d conquer!”

Title: Lost | Medium: Acrylic on canvas | Size: 122cm x 91cm | Year: 2020 | Price: $750

“Taiye’s canvas has tackled issues of culture and socio- economic ills. Her Our Senses Stillness addressed the pollution of Niger-Delta shanties and waterways with attendant health hazards. She’s been featured in exhibitions and reputable art media houses locally and internationally.”

Art, as you must have concluded, is valuable. It is great to buy and collect what you find appeasing. However, these are important factors to consider as guides, when making an art purchase decision.

Until next digest,

Keturah Ovio.

About Art Index Africa
Art Index Africa is Africa’s first art repository mirroring Africa’s real-time art exchange. Each publication navigates around the Nigerian and at broad, Africa’s contemporary art developments and equips art enthusiasts and collectors with invaluable information such as artists profile, works, provenance and authentication. It also provides expert advisory and guidance towards art acquisition and collection, preservation and management including exhibitions, curating, auctions and general dealership.

About Columnist: Keturah Ovio
I am a patron of African art and a Director at Patrons Modern & Contemporary African Art. I am also an engineer and the founder of, a pretty amazing Fintech startup. I am actively eating into the world of African Art. I started collecting art in my early 20s. Now, I advise and manage collections for individuals and corporations looking to start or diversify their wealth management through art collecting. I strongly believe that there is a cross between Art and Technology. It is no surprise that I started this editorial.

Interesting fact: Nigeria makes up a larger percentile of Africa’s art industry.

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