Gbenga Akinnagbe: Titus Kaphar "New Enunciation" Collage
Kathleen Guzman appraises Gbenga Akinnagbe: Titus Kaphar "New Enunciation" Collage during Celebrity Edition, Hour 4
HOST: Appraiser Betty Krulik arrived in Bed-Stuy to marvel at Gbenga Akinnagbe's auction find,
a piece by a contemporary African American artist.
GUEST: I'm fortunate enough to be on the board of a great museum here in Brooklyn called MoCADA.
And we were having a fundraiser, and I bought this in the, the auction.
APPRAISER: And did you know who it was when you bought it?
GUEST: At the time, no. There was a lot of buzz about this artist that I, that I just
started to learn about the artist with my involvement with, with the museum. So,
but I didn't really have much of a history of art or knowledge or
background in art. So it was all new to me at the time. It was years ago.
APPRAISER: And, and what year was that, do you think?
GUEST: I don't remember. (both laughing) I think it was...
APPRAISER: Approximately... GUEST: Maybe...
APPRAISER: Five years? Ten years?
GUEST: It was more than five years ago. So I would say maybe eight years ago.
APPRAISER: The artist is... flavor of the month.
APPRAISER: This artist is so hot that his market has gone from
paintings, let's say, you know, large-scale paintings, selling for $150,000-- which is
a substantial amount of money-- to, the record this past December, 2020, was over $4 million.
APPRAISER: Titus Kaphar.
GUEST: (exhaling reverently)
APPRAISER (laughing): Yes. This is a work in collage. Only one collage by Titus Kaphar has come
on the market in the past five years. It sold in December of 2020 and it sold for $27,000.
GUEST: Oh, wow.
APPRAISER: So what did you pay for this?
GUEST: I don't remember. I don't, I do know it was nowhere near that. I think it was maybe... $1,000?
I'm, I'm... I have to double-check with the museum, but I think it was, if even, maybe $1,000.
APPRAISER: Yeah, well, you did really well. You're a great stock picker,
and I want to know who else you're looking at, because I want in. (both laughing) Titus
went to San José College and got a B.A. in 2001. He went to Yale and got his MFA in 2006.
So when you think about this just 14 years, to go from being an art student...
APPRAISER: ...to achieving incredible notoriety. And he's a young man.
He is just at the beginning of his career. So, you know, there's buy, hold, and sell?
GUEST: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
APPRAISER: This is hold. How do you read the subject?
GUEST: What I love about Titus's work, um... And that, really, art that resonates with me in
general is its, its ability to tell stories. And, like, I've looked at this in so many ways to try
to interpret the, the story. Obviously, I think it speaks to the experience of Black Americans here
in the United States, as much of his work does. I see there's an angel there, as well. So there's
the aspect of religion, and it's these beautiful faces, stoic faces. And then there's a car. I
think part of, like, the working-class experience, but I also could be projecting a lot. (chuckles)
APPRAISER: Well, we all bring in our own experiences when we view a work of art.
And Titus in particular looks at the canon in art history,
and takes these well-known works of art and overlays the African American experience.
APPRAISER: One of his most famous works is a scene of the Declaration of Independence,
and Muhammad Ali is standing on the table. It's interesting how he pulls back the veil
and makes you think about how African Americans helped to build our country.
APPRAISER: And the back story for lots of different eras. In this case, this is an
Annunciation. Although it wasn't titled when you bought it, Titus has since entitled the work "New
Annunciation." It's a collage work, and he found this image of an early French 19th-century artist
named Amaury-Duval, and he collaged it in with this wonderful image of this working woman.
So the angel of the Annunciation is announcing the God Child.
APPRAISER: So, in many ways to me, I read this as an, almost an adoration of the shepherds.
APPRAISER: And there are lots of art-historical, classical overlays, like, this column
is used in pre-Renaissance art as the symbol of the new world order with the birth of Christ.
APPRAISER: You have here African American merchants juxtaposed with working people.
It's an incredibly rich, multi-layered-- not only art-historically, but culturally-- image.
APPRAISER: And I think it's
phenomenal. I think that the value for your work by Titus Kaphar is about $30,000.
APPRAISER: That would be a good insurance value.
GUEST: Oh. (laughs)
APPRAISER: Because you would need to...
GUEST: (laughing heartily)
APPRAISER: You'd have to, you'd have to pay that to get another one.
GUEST: (laughs) This is what... This is what I do when I'm, like,
like, at a, at a loss for words, or nervous. (laughing) Okay, okay, wow.
GUEST: This right here?! (mimics voice breaking): Titus, I love you.