'This is probably the first instance in the art world where a black person took part in a capital competition and won'
Kerry James Marshall on why Sean Combs paid $21m for his painting Past Times at Sotheby's the other week
Kerry James Marshall has been talking about rapper Sean Combs' recent purchase of his painting, Past Times for $21.1million at Sotheby's in New York. Talking to the Art Newspaper on the eve of Kerry James Marshall: Collected Works at the Rennie Collection in Vancouver, Marshall said that the importance of Comb's purchase had actually been lost on a lot of people.
“This is probably the first instance in the history of the art world, where a Black person took part in a capital competition and won, he said.” He also revealed that the number of African American collectors is growing.
“It’s becoming the case that people have more disposable resources that they can apply to buying things like art work. But if you think about the history of art - where were Black people when [capitalism and markets were forming] 500, 600 years ago?
"Black people in the Western hemisphere - from 1865 until now, that’s less than 200 years out from being considered chattel property, being bought and sold themselves.”
The Vancouver show includes sculptures, drawings and paintings spanning 32 years of Marshall's career - from La Venus Negra (1992) to the Garden Party (2004-13), all owned by Bob Rennie, the biggest single collector of Kerry's work, if not perhaps the collector who's paid the most for it.
Want to get an idea why Kerry set the auction record for the highest price paid for a work by a living African American artist? Then buy our Kerry James Marshall Contemporary Artist Series book here and you'll begin to understand why his work is so sought after.