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Meet Ethiopia’s Mehretu who broke African art-world record twice


Renowned Ethiopian artist Julie Mehretu has once again made history by breaking the record for the highest sale price of any work by an African-born artist at auction.

Her abstract painting titled “Walkers With the Dawn and Morning” fetched $10.7 million at Sotheby’s in New York on Wednesday.

“Walkers With the Dawn and Morning,” featuring ink and acrylic on canvas, draws its name from a Langston Hughes poem from the 1920s.

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Mehretu created the artwork in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and its impact on New Orleans.

The competitive auction saw two bidders vying for the piece, gradually driving the price higher. While it initially sold for $9.5 million, additional fees brought the final cost to the record-breaking sum of $10.7 million.

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Mehretu had previously set the record last month with a sale price of $9.3 million.

“We are moving beyond that initial phase to something more discerning,” remarked Hannah O’Leary, head of Sotheby’s modern and contemporary African art department, highlighting the evolving and discerning taste for African art.

The 52-year-old artist, born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1970, moved to the United States with her family in 1977.

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Mehretu has since become a prominent figure in the rapidly expanding world of contemporary African art.