Recently discovered Renoir painting headlines Strauss & Co’s dynamic programme for Toyota US Woordfees

4 Oct 2023

Strauss & Co, Africa’s leading art auction house, is pleased to reconfirm its commitment to the Toyota US Woordfees with its vibrant programme of events planned for throughout the duration of the arts festival in Stellenbosch (7-15 October 2023). Highlights include a curated art exhibition featuring a recently uncovered work by Impressionist master Pierre-Auguste Renoir and a benefit auction of contemporary art featuring bronzes by Conrad Botes, Wilma Cruise and Claudette Schreuders, among others. Additionally, there is a fashion show by acclaimed designer Lezanne Viviers, a musical performance by applauded singer Niël Rademan, an exciting series of talks, walkabouts, art valuation days and more.

“Strauss & Co has played an active role in contributing to the visual arts programme of Toyota US Woordfees for a number of years and the company is proud to be a silver sponsor of this annual arts festival,” says Frank Kilbourn, Chairperson, Strauss & Co. “This year our activities will include a large exhibition of South African and International art inside De Oude Leeskamer, a cultural and heritage centre located in the heart of Stellenbosch. The exhibition is the cornerstone of our curated education and hospitality programme in this historic building owned by the Mouton family. As part of our commitment to being a good corporate citizen, Strauss & Co, in collaboration with the Woordfees will present the Woordfees Benefit Auction aimed at benefitting the festival and the artists whose works feature in the auction. The auction is curated by Teresa Lizamore and will take place in the Stadsaal, Stellenbosch’s historical town hall on Thursday 12 October.” It will be live-streamed on Registration and bidding can take place in person or via the Strauss & Co website, in real time.

“The 2023 edition of Toyota US Woordfees will feature 640 unique productions in more than 50 venues in and around Stellenbosch,” says Caro Wiese, Non-Executive Director, Strauss & Co, and an ambassador for the festival. “Strauss & Co’s many contributions to this year’s festival are aimed at enriching the public’s appreciation and knowledge of art in all its diverse expressions, from painting and sculpture to ceramics and bookmaking. At the same time, we want to show that the visual arts are intimately connected to other disciplines, and so we will be presenting events devoted music, fashion, food, wine and art painting.”

The exhibition of Modern and Contemporary South African and international art curated by celebrated interior architect Gert Gertzen, of GC Gertzen Interiors, anchors Strauss & Co’s visual arts programme. Presented in De Oude Leeskamer (182 Dorp Street, opening 7 October at 5pm), the exhibition will include works by high-profile South African artists Sydney Kumalo, Ezrom Legae, Alexis Preller, Irma Stern and J.H. Pierneef alongside works by international artists, notably a blissful late-career still life by pioneer French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Painted in 1912, Renoir’s Fruits (Oranges et Citrons) was recently uncovered in Johannesburg and has been authenticated by the Wildenstein Plattner Institute in Paris.  It forms part of Transcending Boundaries: International Modern and Contemporary Art, Strauss & Co’s forthcoming spotlight auction of art from the Americas, Asia Pacific, British Isles, Europe and South Africa (25 October 2023). Gertzen’s exhibition will also draw from the catalogue for Strauss & Co’s flagship summer auction in Johannesburg (7 November 2023), notably works amassed by the late collector Professor Danie Joubert (*), amongst others.

Strauss & Co is delighted to reveal that the exhibition will further include a small selection of bronzes by Ezrom Legae and Stanley Kumalo from two important collections: the Kilbourn Collection and Homestead Collection, housed at Norval Foundation. Frank Kilbourn, Chairperson, Strauss & Co, and a noted collector, will lead a walkabout of the exhibition (10 October at 5pm). Additionally, Wilhelm van Rensburg, Head Curator and Senior Art Specialist, Strauss & Co, will facilitate a talk devoted to The Sculptures of Sydney Kumalo and Ezrom Legae and the comprehensive catalogue raisonné and census of the sculptures of these important artists, published by Strauss & Co (12 October at 11am).

The Strauss & Co Talks series also taking place in De Oude Leeskamer, kicks off with a privileged first-hand account of the recent sold-out Vermeer exhibition at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum by collector Lizelle Kilbourn (9 October at 3pm). Art critic Amanda Botha will provide insight into 6 Cheviot Place, the Sea Point home that Erik Laubscher and Claude Bouscharain shared with Jan Rabie and Marjorie Wallace (10 October at 3pm). Ceramics expert, and Strauss & Co Decorative Arts and Design consultant Olivia Barrell, will discuss her new book focussing on clay art (11 October at 11am). Wilhelm van Rensburg will discuss William Kentridge’s little-known artists’ books (11 October at 3pm). Strauss & Co Cataloguer and Researcher, Leigh Leyde and Senior Art Specialist, Ian Hunter will also present talks.

The annual Toyota US Woordfees Art Auction, in collaboration with Strauss & Co, will take place in the Stellenbosch Town Hall (26 Andringa Street, 12 October at 6pm). “The auction as part of the Woordfees offers a unique opportunity for artists to explore new markets. It also provides buyers, collectors, and festival-goers the opportunity to acquire work from emerging and established artists. The excitement of an auction seamlessly aligns with the energy of an art festival” says Saartjie Botha, Director of Toyota US Woordfees.

Pitched at various budgets, the catalogue has been curated by art consultant Teresa Lizamore, of Lizamore & Associates. More than 100 works by top-notch contemporary artists are on offer including bronzes by Conrad Botes, Guy Du Toit, Dylan Lewis and Claudette Schreuders, as well as by festival artist Wilma Cruise, who is exhibiting at SU Museum (52 Ryneveld St). Other artists represented include Cathy Abrahams, Willie Bester, Willem Boshoff, Kate Gottgens, Kilmany-Jo Liversage and Joel Mamboka, among many. Prospective buyers will be able to bid in person in real time, online and by phone.

Also, not to be missed is Future Fossils, a fashion and art focussed presentation by Johannesburg-based fashion designer Lezanne Viviers at the De Oude Leeskamer (13 October at 3pm). Viviers, an independent fashion designer who is also creative director of Marianne Fassler, will launch her latest Spring/Summer Collection as showcased at Milan Fashion Week. The presentation is followed by a musical evening with Niël Rademan, whose repertoire encompasses cabaret, crossover and operatic music (13 October at 5pm).

For a detailed programme of events, including dates, times and venue, please consult the attached programme:

(*) Professor Danie Joubert started his 13-year office as Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of Pretoria in 1980 in dramatic fashion: he discovered a large-scale oil painting of a wild fig tree by JH Pierneef in the sitting room of one of the male residences on campus. As a scientist by training, he immediately identified the species, but also knew exactly where the tree grew, and promptly drove out there to photograph it. That Pierneef to this day enjoys pride of place in the offices of the Vice-Chancellor of the University.

Professor Joubert played a leading role in the expansion of the art collection of the University, adding no fewer than 200 artworks to its holdings. He initiated more than 25 exhibitions on campus by such well-known artists as Enslin du Plessis, Christo Coetzee and Jack Lugg, converting spaces in the Ou Lettere Gebou (the Arts Building) and in the old Merensky Library into exhibition halls. He founded the Van Wouw House, adding to the University’s collection of Anton van Wouw sculptures by buying casts from Sotheby’s where he met the legendary Stephan Welz. He penned numerous publications on South African art, including Anton van Wouw en die Van Wouw-huis, Gregoire Boonzaier: Boomstudies, Erich Mayer, and Zakkie Eloff. He was instrumental in the Edoardo Villa sculpture bequest to the University and founded the art archive there with documents donated by such artists as Bettie Cilliers-Barnard, Coert Steynberg and Laurika Postma.

Danie Joubert met Emile Schweikerdt, famed art dealer in Pretoria, through Walter Battiss in the early 1950s; Schweikerdt was then a colleague of his father, Oom Stokkies Joubert, who taught Afrikaans at Pretoria Boys High School where Battiss was art master. Schweikerdt recognized Joubert’s incisive appreciation of art, and on his advice, the Joubert collection includes fine works by Pierneef, Irma Stern, Maggie Loubser, Alexis Preller and Maud Sumner.

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