Zeitz MOCAA: ‘A game changer’

To raise funds for the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, 14 artists have donated works to be offered in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction on 8 March in London

One of the most exciting and momentous events of the 2017 art calendar is set to take place in September, with the opening of the eagerly-awaited Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town. The 100,000-square-foot space on the V&A waterfront will comprise 80 galleries spread over nine floors, and is the biggest museum to open on the continent for more than 100 years.

Christie’s will play a major part in the establishment of the new institution when it offers donated works by 14 artists in its Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction  on 8 March. Proceeds from the sale — including works by El Anatsui, Roger Ballen, Antony Gormley, Isaac Julien, Yinka Shonibare and Harland Miller — will go towards Zeitz MOCAA’s endowment to ensure the long-term sustainability of the museum.

El Anatsui (b.  1944), Warrior, 2015. Aluminium and copper wire, 124 x 137¾ in (315 x 350cm). Estimate £400,000-600,000. This lot is offered in Post War & Contemporary Art Day Auction on 8 March 2017 at Christie’s in London, King Street

El Anatsui (b. 1944), Warrior, 2015. Aluminium and copper wire, 124 x 137¾ in (315 x 350cm). Estimate: £400,000-600,000. This lot is offered in Post War & Contemporary Art Day Auction on 8 March 2017 at Christie’s in London, King Street

Mark Coetzee, Executive Director and Chief Curator, comments, ‘The extraordinary generosity of artists from around the world in donating funds to this fundraising auction will guarantee that we fulfill our mission for years to come.’

The design to house the museum in the city’s historic Grain Silo — a Cape Town landmark since 1921 — has been undertaken by the innovative British architect Thomas Heatherwick. ‘There was this building sitting like the elephant in Cape Town’s room,’ he says, reflecting on the challenge of ‘working on the most tubey building ever and turn[ing] that to your advantage.

Yto Barrada (b.  1971), Iris et Ronces (Iris Tingitana), 2007. C-print mounted on Diasec, 31½ x 31½ in (80 x 80 cm). Estimate £2,500-4,500. This lot is offered in Post War & Contemporary Art Day Auction on 8 March 2017 at Christie’s in London, King Street

Yto Barrada (b. 1971), Iris et Ronces (Iris Tingitana), 2007. C-print mounted on Diasec, 31½ x 31½ in (80 x 80 cm). Estimate: £2,500-4,500. This lot is offered in Post War & Contemporary Art Day Auction on 8 March 2017 at Christie’s in London, King Street

‘The outside already had idiosyncrasy [but] we were in danger of losing the extraordinary cellular structure. So we took the idea of using just one of those billions of grains of corn, and scaling it up and using that as a tool to cut through.’

The resulting edifice promises to be an extraordinary home for the first major museum of contemporary art in Africa. ‘We want to be a museum of the 21st century, so the collection is dedicated to everything from 2000 onwards, and it focuses on Africa and its diaspora,’ explains Mark Coetzee.

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (b. 1962), Boy Balancing Knowledge II, 2016. Fibreglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, books, globe, leather and steel baseplate, 71¼ x 29½ x 61⅞ in (181 x 75 x 157 cm). Estimate £50,000-70,000. This lot is offered in Post War & Contemporary Art Day Auction on 8 March 2017 at Christie’s in London, King Street

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (b. 1962), Boy Balancing Knowledge II, 2016. Fibreglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, books, globe, leather and steel baseplate, 71¼ x 29½ x 61⅞ in (181 x 75 x 157 cm). Estimate: £50,000-70,000. This lot is offered in Post War & Contemporary Art Day Auction on 8 March 2017 at Christie’s in London, King Street

Francis Outred, Chairman and Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s in Europe, the Middle East and India, explains how when visiting the site early last year, he was struck by Heatherwick’s ‘extraordinary ambition and vision’.

‘The historic building, which once acted as a key site for imports and exports, will now act as a point of intersection between Africa and the rest of the world for a whole generation of artists,’ says Outred, who is delighted that Christie’s can play a part in this story, and raising as much money as possible through the generous donations of the artists and galleries to go towards the museum’s future.

Highlights of the auction include Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui’s Warrior (2015), one of the artist’s celebrated bottletop works, with an estimate of £400,000-£600,000, and British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare’s Boy Balancing Knowledge II (2006), utilising ‘African’ fabrics to explore ideas of African authenticity. It has an estimate of £50,000-£70,000.

The works will be exhibited in London from 3–7 March as part of 20th Century at Christie’s, which runs from 28 February to 10 March.