How These SecondGeneration Gallerists Are Demystifying Art Culture

How These SecondGeneration Gallerists Are Demystifying Art Culture

Once seen as a symbol of affluent status, art collecting has become a major occupation.

This week, over 60,000 people gather in Miami Beach for Art Basel to see the works of artists and immerse themselves in art culture. With the likes of Cardi B, Offset and Travis Scott in attendance, this event at one of the world's leading performing arts venues is one of the best tickets of the year.

Like most culture-shattering trends, black creators are leading the revolution that is shaking up the art world.

Art by black artists like Julie Merito, Mark Bradford, and Amy Sherald is worth millions of dollars. Additionally, in recent years, famous works by Basquiat have sold for more than $100 million, and Kerry James Marshall's for nearly $18.5 million at contemporary auctions.

Despite the undeniable value of black art at the forefront of the art industry, African Americans make up only 4% of museum curators. Only 20% of intellectual leadership positions in art museums are held by people of color.

Additionally, major auction houses such as Sotheby's and Christie's have committed to greater attention to diversity and racial equity in recent years. However, the companies did not change the representation of black workers in their companies.

The Isegbe siblings and Juman Nnamdi address the lack of black executives in the art industry by removing barriers to entry for African American collectors, investors and entrepreneurs.

With a unique artistic upbringing, Ezegbe and Gman learned the ins and outs of the industry by watching their father, Detroit gallery owner George Nnamdi, who opened his family's gallery in 1982 in Detroit, Chicago. , and New York. Both have since pursued careers in the visual arts. Ezegbe, director of the N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art in Detroit, and Juman, owner and director of the N'Namdi Contemporary Art Gallery in Miami. With their experience, both are well equipped to bring about the change they want to see in the art world.

ESSENCE spoke to second-generation artists who offered advice to newcomers looking to invest in art or work in a long-established industry. They encourage newcomers to think about the bigger picture: supporting black artists and preserving black art culture.

How to invest

"After a million / 2 years, I bought some art, this is worth 2 million / After a few years, this is worth 8 million / I can't wait to give this Mecca to my children." – Jay Z

In these four OJ story bars, millionaire students turn to the Internet to learn how to get into the art investing game. Unfortunately for the uninitiated, the world of collecting, trading, and investing in art is very bold and elitist. Navigating the jungle of investing in galleries, dealers and businesses can be a difficult, if not impossible, task for investors unfamiliar with the art world.

For novice buyers and novice collectors, Guman offers this beginner's guide:

Find local galleries.

Art galleries offer buyers the opportunity to view multiple works of art at the same time. Galleries often act as a direct link between the artist and the client, so you can be sure that you are buying original and high quality artwork.

According to Juman, buyers should spend a lot of time researching before investing.

Check out local galleries. Visit galleries while traveling. If you see a gallery on Instagram, contact them. Ask about the art you like, ask about the artist, ask about the price, get to know each other. The more outsiders you know, the more professional you become.

Find art you love.

Barack and Michelle Obama, Angela Bassett and Courtney Vance, Beyoncé and Jay-Z are just a few of the famous couples who have publicly announced their intention to get together. While a nod from an influential collector can add value to an artist's portfolio, Juman urges first-time buyers not to overdo it.

He advises investors to buy the artwork they advertise. "People want to buy art because they like how it looks in their home. Because it makes you feel something," he said.

From a broader perspective, Juman sees collecting and preserving art by African American artists as socially and culturally important to black American buyers.

"They buy their art to keep our culture alive, to grow the art, to support black people and to feed the ecosystem," he said.

Search for artists.

When evaluating an investment in a work of art, buyers should consider the artist's biography and the artist's collector's interest in determining the market value.

"Look at the galleries the artist has been to. Look at the variety of work. You want to invest in an artist with a certain style."

Think about their core. Is their work original or is the work they are doing creative? This isn't necessarily the wrong answer because artists are always improving, but they want to pay what's right for them. Re-production.

Stay there for a long time.

Art is not appreciated overnight; It is a long-term investment, and sometimes it is an investment that is passed down through generations. Juman warns that technical investments like Wall Street stocks are looming.

"There is no quick fix. Don't get rich quick. Art is a special product. You won't win unless you understand the importance of art. Real estate is an investment, and that's where the wealth lies," he said. The only way to get into business is to buy the art you want to live with.

Although Goman is optimistic about the growing interest in buying and collecting art from black American artists, he balances this optimism with a clear understanding of the current state of black art.

"The number of African American galleries has decreased. Access to art for African American art collectors has decreased. Our art is being marketed and prized at the expense of our culture," he said.

New arrivals looking to invest and collect collections are expected to help change this trend.

Build a career in the arts

The global art market, which includes high-quality sculptures and paintings, is a $65.1 billion industry and includes professionals at all levels, including managers, gallery owners, executives and investors. As a second generation gallery owner, Ezegbe has touched on all roles.

Her passion is showing her artwork to others. To this end, Esegbe describes the threefold mission of the N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art in Detroit. "The goal is to preserve the vision of my family's legacy and serve as an educational tool for the community and the community by preserving the heritage of African Americans in Detroit and beyond," he said.

The philanthropic arm of the fair includes Detroit programs to access the curriculum and participate in workshops and classes.

For those interested in pursuing a career in the arts, Izegbe offers the following positions.

Museum or exhibition director.

Less than 2 percent of the exhibits in major American museums are by African American artists. 85.4% of works in major US museums are by white artists. This is not surprising considering the demographics of decision makers in leadership positions in the visual arts.

Directors decide what is displayed in a museum or gallery. Basically, they are the chief operating officers for everything that happens under the roof, including the profitability of the institution, daily operations, long-term planning and exhibitions.

Art directors usually need a master's or doctoral degree. In Museum Studies. The main postgraduate degrees for this role are public administration, archeology and social history. But, like most industries, you can go your own way here. Professionals with similar experience in gallery or museum management sometimes move into management positions without high qualifications.

Exhibition designer.

Anyone who is passionate about a museum or exhibition gallery knows the power of effective presentation. Large or modest, how art is placed in a space is sometimes as important as the art itself, and a gallery designer is responsible for that visual interpretation.

Most exhibit designers have a Bachelor of Arts degree. This role may feature graphic design, architecture, interior design or visual communication.

Technical guard

The museum or curator manages the art collections. Day-to-day duties include overseeing the transportation and preservation of valuable artifacts, recording inventory, and examining collections.

Most curatorial positions require a degree in art history, archeology or museum studies. In small and medium-sized galleries, the role of curators becomes more flexible; In this regard, you can get a degree in fine arts or business administration.

"Actually, I prefer someone with no technical experience. We can teach. But I want to hire someone with work ethic and organizational skills."

Regardless of the role, Isegbi is excited about the growing interest in the industry and hopes that more black people will make decisions behind the scenes in galleries and museums.

"The more African-Americans we bring into the arts, the more we can distance them from the Western world's traditional view of African art," he said.

Ezegbe and Juman relish the opportunity to use the platform and deep knowledge to educate and open doors for people like themselves.

"You learn about our culture through the art we've created over the centuries. You can rewrite history, copy texts, but art serves us like hieroglyphs. Art preserves our culture. You can't judge it in critical terms." Jaman said.

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