From the late 1990s to the spring of 2001 the author spent more and more of his New York City time observing and, to some extent, taking part in the commercial activity that moved “tribal” pieces from Africa to Manhattan and then west, south, and north to Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, Denver, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. He discovered that the new space of African art was one of many examples of people empowering themselves from within the between. When one collects African art in the contemporary market, the intersection of spaces—of meaning—becomes a rather complex affair. Curators, connoisseurs, and high-end gallery owners want to collect fine African art from reputable dealers—men and women who have established reputations based upon the “authenticity” of their objects. There is a second group of collectors for whom investment value is the solitary force that compels buying and selling. Experience, ideology, and identity politics drives a third group of African Art collectors to buy objects. These people may include African Americans inspired by some variety or version of Afrocentrism. The fourth group, of course, is composed of “kinship”-based networks of African traders.
Keywords: African art, between, anthropology, collectors, anthropologists