1-54 New York
Has its names implies, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair is a fair dedicated to contemporary art from Africa. It runs three annual shows: 1-54 London, 1-54 Marrakech and 1-54 New York. The name is inspired by the fact that 54 diverse countries make up one great continent. 1-54 New York was established in 2015 to accommodate the rising interest in African art. Approximately 10,000 visitors attend this show that takes place at the same time as Frieze New York in May. With 24 galleries from Africa, Europe and the USA displaying paintings, collages, photography and sculpture, there is a diverse range of outstanding work to view and purchase at 1-54 New York. Pieces start at affordable prices to ensure the art is accessible to a wide audience.
Touria El Glaoui shares her views!
1-54 New York 2023
258 W 118th St
New York, NY 10026
May 2023/ TBA
Concession Ticket: $15
Insights 1-54 New York
Touria El Glaoui
What would you say is the DNA of 1-54 New York?
We established the first iteration of 1-54 New York in 2015 at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. Similar to London, the fair coincided with Frieze New York. We moved locations to Industria in the West Village in 2019, connecting to a new audience closer to the New York art centre of Chelsea and neighbouring West Village. The move also allowed us to organise a larger edition, showing more galleries than previous New York fairs. For this year’s edition, taking place from 19 to 22 May 2022, we will be hosting the fair in a unique event space in Harlem. I think this will be a great opportunity to engage with Harlem’s African American, African Diaspora, and African community. It made sense to move to a neighbourhood rich in history and culture, especially one that was so significant in the proliferation of artistic work in the American Black community.
What type of galleries are chosen to exhibit, and why?
1-54 works with a wide variety of galleries, so this really depends on who applies to our fair. Sometimes we work with emerging galleries, and other times we work with more established ones. However, we want to be a platform enabling younger and upcoming galleries from the continent and around the world to access the international art scene. To recall, our mission is to improve the representation of contemporary African Art in worldwide exhibitions. For this year’s edition, we would like to engage with galleries based in the neighbourhood, focusing on a programme that fosters a sense of community and connects with local partners.
What is the price range of pieces? Who is the average buyer?
The prices of pieces can range anywhere from $4,000 to upwards of $65,000. We’ve found that works valued in the $1,000 to $6,500 bracket in our first edition in London were valued in the $26,000 bracket back in 2019. Furthermore, several artists have seen an increase between 70-80%, such as Malian artists Aboulaye Konaté and Amadou Sanago and British-Trinidadian artist Zak Ové. There is certainly a rising interest in contemporary art from Africa and its diasporas. In the past ten years, scores of commercial galleries are opening new outposts on both the African continent and Europe, new major museums are opening on the African continent, major international galleries are collaborating with artists from the continent, and leading auctions houses are establishing specialised departments in contemporary African art. Contemporary African art is thriving more than ever. Today, our collector base is very broad and diversified, from young buyers who are just starting off their collections to more established collectors.
“our mission is to improve the representation of contemporary African Art in worldwide exhibitions.”
Who is the typical attendee of 1-54 New York?
1-54 has consistently been the space for globally spread, international individuals to socialise and exchange.The fair is attended by collectors, students, researchers, cultural and artistic practitioners, art enthusiasts, and even families. The main underlying theme that joins all our attendees is that they all have an interest in artistic practices from Africa and its diaspora.
What strategy – physical as digital – will you adopt in the short to medium term?
Our strategy is to focus on our physical fairs, which are the most anticipated social events in the yearly calendar and allow like-minded people to meet. We cannot wait to go back to the continent with 1-54 Marrakech, especially after the fair has been cancelled for two years in a row. We very much look forward to reuniting with the vibrant artistic community there. However, we will continue to strengthen and expand our presence online to be able to reach wider audiences. This year we are pursuing our partnership with Artsy, allowing collectors to browse works online for each edition. Furthermore, we are very active on our social media, producing studio visits with unique artists, interviews with key players in the industry, and insightful market research.
To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we recently rebranded the design of our logo, in collaboration with design studio, TM, as we wanted to emphasise togetherness, unity, and the pride that we have for our continent. 1-54 takes its name from the 54 countries that make up the continent, and we feel that our new logo not only draws attention to our role as a unifier of many things — people, countries, cultures, and art forms — but reflects our ongoing mission to promote contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora.
What are two other art fairs you would suggest?
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