Nigerian-Born Njideka Akunyili Crosby Sets Auction Record with $1.1m Sale at Sotheby's

NEW YORK, United States - Nigerian-born artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby sold her work Drown for a record $1,092,500, a mere $7,500 from a $1.1 million sale, at Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York. This personal auction record was over three times the high-estimate for the piece ($200,000 - $300,000).

 Njideka Akunyili Crosby's  Drown,  2012 | Courtesy of Sotheby's.  ©  Njideka Akunyili Crosby.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby's Drown, 2012 | Courtesy of Sotheby's. © Njideka Akunyili Crosby.

In fact, Los Angeles-based Akunyili Crosby set another record two months prior with her piece Untitled, selling the work completed in 2011 for $93,750 at Sotheby's New York in September 2016. The accolades continue as Akunyili Crosby was recently shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize and awarded as one of the Financial Times' 2016 Women of the Year.

Akunyili Crosby has a distinct aesthetic playing with collage and photomontage. Her pieces, replete with acrylic paint, colored pencils, and even fabric, present seemingly mundane domestic scenes, but further inspection reveals layers of complexity, often in reference to her personal life. As an example, Drown is a self-portrait of Akunyili Crosby with her own husband. In addition to her personal subject matter, Akunyili Crosby intertwines pop culture images from Nigeria and the United States. Echoes to Nigeria can be seen in the architecture, photo transfers of Nigerian television stars, and even a collage of images of her mother Dora Akunyili, who was a titan in her own right as Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control of Nigeria before her passing in June 2014. The American inspiration flows through in her use of Los Angeles palm trees, depictions of her white American husband, and iconic music legends. The blending of her two cultures is indeed a personal one and reflected in every aspect of her work.

 Njideka Akunyili Crosby's  Super Blue Omo,  2016. |   Courtesy of Norton Museum of Art.  ©  Njideka Akunyili Crosby.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby's Super Blue Omo, 2016. | Courtesy of Norton Museum of Art. © Njideka Akunyili Crosby.

Sotheby's has announced the auction house will launch its first dedicated sales of "African Modern and Contemporary Art" in May 2017 under the direction of Hannah O'Leary, Sotheby's newly minted Head of Modern and Contemporary African Art.

See Njideka Akunyili Crosby's latest works on display at www.njidekaakunyili.com.