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Akunyili Crosby is ‘painting her ordinary’ and making millions of dollars



Four years ago, Dora Akunyili, Nigeria’s former minister of information, died after battling cancer, leaving behind a legacy of hard work and reform.
But while the older Akunyili made a name in public service, her daughter, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, is blazing a trail in the art world.
In a recent profile on Akunyili Crosby by the Wall Street Journal, we learn that in a few years, her works have grown in value selling for millions of dollars from the $3,000 it sold for just years ago ― even as members of the art community and critics wonder how long the current value of her works can be maintained.
The profile details how Akunyili Crosby, aware of the speculations, is working to maintain her work’s value.
On Akunyili Crosby’s fast-rising career, the WSJ wrote: “It has been a jet-propelled rise to the top of the contemporary art world for Ms. Akunyili Crosby—a far cry from the small town in eastern Nigeria where she grew up.
“The artist, 35 years old, has since won a MacArthur “genius” grant. New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and London’s Tate Modern have come calling. At least 20 public museums are on a waiting list for works she hasn’t painted yet.”
According to the profile, Akunyili Crosby, who initially wanted to be a doctor but fell in love with arts while still in university, recently sold one of her paintings, ‘Bush Babies’, for a whopping $3.6 million, an unprecedented record for the artist.
Known for her unique style of painting, Akunyili Crosby’s work was described by the artist Charles Gaines in the WSJ piece as the “the strongest painting I’ve seen in a long time”.
“When black people paint, we assume they’re dealing with race or politics, and that’s a postcolonial problem that was unanswered until Njideka. She’s painting her ordinary,” he added.