Strauss & Co’s next auction will take place in Johannesburg on 16 May 2011.
From the Press Release: “Strauss & Co’supcoming auction at the Johannesburg Country Club, Woodmead, on 16 May has manyhighlights and some surprises. Reflecting on recent trends, Stephan Welz, Strauss & Co’s esteemedauctioneer, anticipates an impending and necessary shift of emphasis in theSouth African art market.Irma Stern’spaintings of the human figure have been grabbing international headlines as aresult of high prices reached at auction recently. The Cellist (R7 000 000— 10 000 000), a remarkable painting that has been hidden from publicview for over 40 years, is a life-size image of a young girl, her sensitivelypainted face a study in concentrated energy and her taut body draped in agolden gown that evokes the flow of music. The result is a strong cultural statement forging thesublime sounds of music with the dynamism and vigour of one of South Africa’sfinest painters.Of Stern’sever-popular still lifes, two are sure to attract keen bidders. Strauss & Co, who hold the recordfor the highest price ever paid at auction for a still life by Irma Stern (R13368 000 in October 2009) are offering two good examples. AStill Life of a Blue Jar with Oranges and Limes (R2 500 000 —3 500 000), painted in 1939, provides fascinating insights intoStern’s earlier style with strong overtones of her German Expressionist mentors. The later painting, Still Life of Blossoms(R2 000 000 — 3 000 000), which sold for just R60 500in 1994, is a lovely interpretation of spring flowers in a Japanese vase.J H Pierneef’s A Mountain Gorge with a River RunningThrough It (R4 000 000 — 6 000 000), painted in 1928,is a key work in the artist’s oeuvre, clearly revealing the influence of theImpressionists’ and Post-Impressionists’ colour palette and treatment of lighteffects on his early paintings, while GoldenGate (R5 000 000 — 7 000 000), an impressive example ofhis mature work, demonstrates how he forged a unique South African style that continuesto capture the imagination of art lovers. PieterWenning, a grossly underrated artist in the opinion of Stephan Welz, is excitingmuch interest amongst art collectors with AtClaremont, CP having sold for R1 782 400 at Strauss & Co’s March2011 sale, establishing a new record for the artist. Landscape Bishop’sCourt (R500 000 — 800 000), painted when Wenning was in Cape Town in1916 and Clouds, Pretoria (R600 000— 9000 000), painted in 1918, will have great appeal to all who are interestedin this artist’s work. ‘Whatever Iam after is contained in an African shape’ wrote Alexis Preller in a letterdated 1948. This drive to capturethe intrinsic qualities of Africa and to give life to its cultures is apparentin both MapoggaWomen (R800 000—1 200 000) of 1952 and inPrimavera, (R2 000 000 — 3 000 000), painted in 1956. Like its famous antecedent by SandroBotticelli, Primavera extols the joysof spring. But unlike the Primavera in the South African NationalGallery’s Permanent Collection, here Preller uniquely brings together aEuropean figure that appears to celebrate and pay homage to Africa and anAfrican figure that offers, in return, branches symbolic of regeneration and ofpeace. Maurice vanEssche’s Fishermen and Women I(R600 000 — 900 000), portraying heroic figures ennobled by theirlabour, is one of his most impressive paintings to come to auction in a while. George Pemba’s Portrait of a Young Man (R400 000 — 600 000) embodies thepoignant humanity of his best paintings, making Pemba the celebrated artistthat he is today.Cecil Skotnesforged a unique style and iconography drawing both on his European training andNordic roots as well as on local histories, legends and the great traditions ofAfrican art. Four Figures (on four panels) (R350 000 — 500 000) withits considered aesthetic formality, bolder colouring and clarity of form, is amajor work demonstrating his technical mastery of an innovative medium ideallysuited to his inimitable style and African-inspired subject matter.Edoardo Villa’s steel Sentinel (R800 000—1 200 000) of 1966 combinesmechanical forms with more rounded, anthropomorphic elements to create anheroic figure which resembles the powerful ancestral figures of traditionalAfrican art. A Seated Figure, Red Room (R150 000 — 200 000) was in the artist’s opinion, the key paintingin Robert Hodgins’s last solo exhibition in 2008. Karel Nel’s Convergence, House of theInitiate (R350000 — 500 000) draws on his knowledge of traditional cultures and modern art toevoke associations of nurturing environments and spaces for the meeting ofideas. Says Stephan Welz,Strauss & Co’s Managing Director:”The highlightsare undoubtedly the important Irma Stern of the cellist, the two majorPierneefs and a good Van Wouw that was cast in the Nisini Foundry. Key works by Alexis Preller, EdoardoVilla and Cecil Skotnes should attract interest. The sale features good examples of Gregoire Boonzaier’s Capeurban scenes and a large number of works by Piet van Heerden and AlexanderRose-Innes. Artists rarely seen atauction include Eugene Labuschagne and Georgina Ormiston.”In Welz’s opinion:”The South Africanart market has in recent years ridden on the back of Irma Stern but one sensescollectors are increasingly becoming aware of the goodvalue presently to be had with artists who have somehow fallen out of thelimelight due to all the attention and publicity being given to Stern. The market can certainly be described asbeing out of balance as far as prices are concerned and an adjustment is longoverdue. Perhaps this sale willstart reflecting this trend. Astutecollectors will no doubt be looking keenly at several quality lots in thisauction.”Text: EmmaBedford, Senior Paintings Specialist, Strauss & Co Media Enquiries —Bina Genovese (083 680 9944) www.straussart.co.za”