Investing in Black Art(ists)
The upcoming cultural revolution and why you should be investing in black art.
Art above by Onnissia Harries. Her work is currently available on https://www.onnissia.com/art.
Following the Reconstruction Era, numerous black Americans migrated north into existing black neighborhoods in New York. The increasing popularity of black culture in these neighborhoods resulted in what became known as the "The Harlem Renaissance," a golden age in black culture, literature, music, and art. Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Louis Armstrong, and Josephine Baker are just a few of the well-known figures who rose to prominence during this era.
The second wave of the Black Lives Matter movement, arising from the murder of George Floyd, has similarly invoked an increased popularity of black culture in America. Of course, this country has always idolized and exploited black culture, nonetheless, there appears to be a resurgence of interest in black communities. Because art provides economic opportunity to both the buyer and the artist, it is important to be investing specifically in black art and artists now more than ever.
According to Forbes, the art market is beating the stock market during the pandemic--the value of art is increasing while stocks like the Dow have lost significant value. In 2018, the Wall Street Journal declared that art achieved a 10.6 percent return on investment. In particular, an investment in black art presents unique opportunity based upon the value the U.S. places on black culture. For instance, the most valued piece of art at auction by an American artist was by Jean-Michael Basquiat, a black artist, valued at $110.5 million. The importance of black culture to art in America cannot be understated. Black creativity is unmatched--black art flows from the complexity and richness of black culture and the black experience. Regardless of one's purpose or need, black art evokes emotion, passion, and heart.
Nonetheless, black artists still face racial barriers in developing their careers and obtaining economic opportunity. Despite institutional pushes for diversity, art by black artists at major art museums only constitute 1.2% of the collections. Women of color, specifically, make up just 1% of all the artists in major collections despite constituting 20% of the U.S. population. To provide opportunities and raise the profiles of talented black artists, it is crucial that black artists are exposed to broader audiences.
Black art is uniquely valuable, and its value will only increase in time. An investment in black art not only holds the potential for economic opportunity during an era of increased popularity of blackness, but also signifies a commitment to create an art world that genuinely reflects and celebrates black culture.