The figures in Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings are portraits of Black men and women created out of her imagination, they are not real people. Each painting is completed in a single day, because the artist thinks that going back to a work more than once, simply won’t improve it. Born in South London in 1977, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye studied first at the Falmouth College of Art, where she graduated in 2000, and then completed an MA at the Royal Academy Schools in 2003. She is a rising star on the international art scene and was even nominated for the Turner Prize in 2013, having then exhibited her work in major spaces all around the world.

Despite her youth, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s work has already appeared on the secondary market, where it can be found occasionally at auction. For example, in February 2014 at Christie’s London Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction, her work Obelisk (2005) sold for £90,100 with a pre-sale estimate ranging from £30,000 to £50,000. In October 2013 at Christie’s in London again, her work L.Y Boakye Garnets (2013) sold for £72,100 at the Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction with a pre-sale estimate between £ 10,000 and £15,000, while Diplomacy 2 Lynette (2009) sold for £146,500 at the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction against a pre-sale estimate of £30,000 to £50,000.

Christie’s has not been the only well established auction house to offer Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s works on the secondary market. In fact, in October 2013 at Sotheby’s London, her work Politics (2005) sold well above estimate, fetching £52,500 at the Contemporary Art Evening Sale, while more recently in February 2014, her work Confit Canard (2006) came up for sale at the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Sale archiving £43,750 starting from an estimate of £10,000 to £15,000. Finally in February 2014 at the auction house Phillips in London, her painting First (2003) appeared in the Contemporary Art Day Sale and fetched £52,500 starting from a low estimate of £40,000.

In an interview by Hans Ulrich Obrist in the magazine Kaleidoscope, Lynette Yiadom- Boakye explains, “Race is something that I can completely manipulate, or reinvent, or use as I want to. Also, they’re all Black because…I’m not White…People are Black figures, and the complexity of this is an essential part of the work. But my starting point is always the language of painting itself and how that relates to the subject matter.”

The artist’s still short but intense career includes several important solo museum shows, such as one at Chisenhale Gallery in London in 2012 and another at the Studio Museum in Harlem in New York in 2011. Her work has also appeared in many group exhibitions including the Ungovernables: 2012 New Museum Triennial at the New Museum in New York in 2012, and the 11th Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art in Lyon in 2012. In addition, her work was included in the Encyclopedic Palace at the 55th Biennale di Venezia in 2013.

It is quite impressive that in such a short time, significant institutions such as the Tate, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Miami Art Museum in Florida, the Arts Council Collection in London and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago have all acquired paintings by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, and many others are considering her work at present. We wonder what collection will be next.


Image: The Generosity, 2010, oil on canvas, 180 x 200cm
Photo: Christa Holka
Courtesy: Corvi-Mora, London and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Romina Provenzi is a London-based Italian art journalist and writer. She has lived and worked in Italy, The Netherlands and London, and has travelled extensively while researching local art scenes such as Cuba, Brazil, Egypt and South Africa. Her writing blends an intimate understanding of contemporary art with keen insights on the international art market, drawn from her in-depth experience in sales and business development. Her articles have appeared in several magazines including Hart International, Printmaking Today, ArtInvestor, ArtHub, and ArtInfo, and her work can be found online at

Recommended Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *