Modern Nigerian Art: Art Pricing and the Nigerian Economy, 1960 to 2008
The turbulent situation which the chaotic years of military rule created in Nigerian politics from 1966 to 1999 signalled systemic regression in the economy of the country. From the 1980s to the 1990s, despite the negative factors prevalent as a result of corruption and mismanagement in the nation, there was an astronomical growth in the sale of art works. A new trend also emerged in the art market; artists became increasingly engaged in the collection, distribution and marketing of art works. The development impacted positively on the living standard of the Nigerian artist, such that artists, both young and old, thrived. This trend contradicted the opinion of Ben Enwonwu, Nigeria’s foremost modernist artist, who opined in 1966 that for a piece of painting by a Nigerian artist to be priced for so much as five hundred guineas (about five hundred British pounds), the artist should be much older in age with long years of professional experience as an artist, and quality of training (see Ekwenzi 1966). The state of art pricing in modern Nigerian art has defied such limitations. Many factors have come to influence the economy and contemporary artistic developments in this direction in Nigeria and this paper considers these.