The African and Oceanic Art auction hosted in Paris this summer was somewhat of a rainmaker for Sotheby’s; the auction house reported a final result of €11.1 million (about $12.4 million USD). Estimates were shattered on many pieces before the gavel fell; for example, one African mask estimated at about €2-3 million ended up selling for €5,411,000 (about $6 million USD).
One of the highlights of the auction went to a gorgeous, curving form by Magdalene Odundo. Sans Titre (Untitled), 1994, was estimated between €35,000 to €50,000 ($39,345 – $56,207) but ended up selling for €195,000 ($219,207).
Sotheby’s states that the hand-shaped work avoids the symmetry of the turn, the surface is not glazed but burnished. The work was covered in a slip and heated in a container filled with wood chips, causing its unique charcoal hue.
Odundo was born in Nairobi in 1950. She studied graphics and commercial art at the Nairobi Polytechnic school in Kenya before moving to England in 1971 to become a graphic artist and studio potter. She studied blackware vessels at the San Ildefonso Pueblo in New Mexico. In 2008 she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
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