Investing in African American Art
By Thurlow Evans-Tibbs
I will begin by asking a very basic question: Why invest in African American art? African American art is the visual representation of our culture and as such should be preserved and collected.
The popularity of African American art is growing year after year. Works by artists such as Henry O. Tanner or Romare Bearden can sell for thousands of dollars. However, investing in African American art does not have to be expensive.
An appreciator/investor can acquire quality works for less than the cost of comparable works from the majority market because that market is discriminatory.
The critical points in making a selection are:
1- To do so because you like the work. Somehow it should touch you.
2- There should be a sense that the artist is a professional. That his or her commitment to the craft is shown by a proven résumé.
3- There should be a reasonable expectation that the market is responsive to the artist's work through appraisals and purchases. An appraiser, dealer or agent are good resource people because they are actively working in the art market and can serve as a guide.
But self-education is important and should include:
1- Visiting galleries, museums and other institutions which can provide a guide to what the market is doing for a particular artist at a particular point in time, and
2- Reading. There are several publications about African American artists. Two books I recommend are "American Negro Art" by James Porter and "Two Centuries of Black American Art" by David Driskell.
Fortunately, there are publications aside from these which will assist in identifying new and emerging artists. Of particular note is "Black Art: An International Quarterly" published in California.
Publications such as these, along with gallery personnel, dealers and appraisers can cue in the inexperienced as well as the experienced investor as to which works by which artists should be examined for purchase.
Of the artists that I am familiar with, and that I recommend to my clients, are the works of Louis Delsarte, Mary Reed Daniel and Curtis and Yvonne Tucker.
Blacklight Volume 3, Number 1