Strauss & Co honours sculptors past and present with a dedicated sale and exhibition

21 Jun 2023

Strauss & Co is pleased to announce details for C.100 Sculptures, a timed-online auction of modern and contemporary South African sculpture in various media that closes on Wednesday, 5 July 2023. The auction features rare and important bronzes by artists Deborah Bell, Ezrom Legae and Haroon Gunn-Salie from The John and Elisabeth Bradley Collection.

  • 100-lot sale of South African sculpture made between 1932 and 2019
  • Includes works from The John and Elisabeth Bradley Collection
  • High value lots by Deborah Bell, Sydney Kumalo and Dylan Lewis
  • Rare and unusual works by Erik Laubscher, Lippy Lipshitz and Esther Mahlangu

“Passionate collectors who integrated art into the fabric of their Johannesburg home, John and Elisabeth Bradley collected broadly and deeply,” says Dr Alastair Meredith, Head of Art Department, Strauss & Co. “This reflected in the timespan of the sculpture pieces made between 1932 and 2019 that appear in this thematic sale.”

Adds Dr Alastair Meredith: “South Africa has an amazingly rich and diverse sculpture tradition. This sale presents 100 lots by a broad cross-spectrum of artists, many working in bronze. This quintessentially modern material demands a great level of technical skill, not only from the artist but the foundries with which the artists collaborate. This is evident in the stunning assortment of bronzes in C.100 Sculptures, many of which derive from the superb collection of John and Elisabeth Bradley.”

The catalogue for C.100 Sculptures includes bronzes by historical masters like Moses Kottler, Gerard de Leeu, Speelman Mahlangu and Edoardo Villa. Sydney Kumalo’s bronzes Joyous Reclining Figure (estimate R200 000 – 300 000) and Man on Horse (estimate R350 000 – 500 000), a period casting from 1973 that is from the Bradley Collection, are both documented in the catalogue raisonné, The Sculptures of, Sydney Kumalo and Ezrom Legae. This important new book was authored by Gavin Watkins and Charles Skinner and is entirely sponsored by Strauss & Co.

Contemporary sculptors working in bronze represented in C.100 Sculptures include Norman Catherine, Guy du Toit, Haroon Gunn-Salie, Anton Smit and Angus Taylor. The Bradley Collection includes four totemic bronze figures from Deborah Bell’s acclaimed Sentinel series (IVIIVIII and IX, estimates R600 000 – 800 000 each). Celebrated cat sculptor Dylan Lewis has 12 works in C.100 Sculptures, notably two life-size leopard studies (estimate R600 000 – 800 000 each) and a lioness bust (estimate R500 000 – 700 000).

The Bradleys enjoyed a close relationship with some of the artists in their collection. For instance, in 1958 Elsa Dziomba produced a bronze bust of Elizabeth Bradley’s mother, the acclaimed Afrikaans poet Elisabeth Eybers. C.100 Sculptures features two examples of Dziomba’s work in wood. Other wood sculptors represented include Hannes Harrs, Jackson Hlungwani, Julius Mfethe and Cecil Skotnes.

C.100 Sculptures reflects the liberated use of materials by sculptors, past and present, and includes works made from steel, wire, glass reinforced polymer, concrete, cement fondu and whalebone. There is a small earthenware figure by Erik Laubscher from 1985 (estimate R2 000 – 3 000) and mixed-media torso by Esther Mahlangu (estimate R80 000 – 120 000).

“Two works made nearly a century apart summarise, for me, the amazing diversity of our sculpture tradition,” says Dr Alastair Meredith. “The first is a set of rudimentary carved bookends produced by Lippy Lipshitz in 1932, The Genies (estimate R12 000 – 16 000). They are very elemental pieces and have a Brancusi-like quality. The other work is a 2014 bronze by Haroon Gunn-Salie’s Sunday Best (estimate R150 000 – 200 000). The work depicts a ghostly form, gracefully posed, filling a meticulously tailored dress and was modelled after a District Six resident, Ms Susan Lewis.”

C.100 Sculptures coincides with an exhibition of 80 works by Sydney Kumalo and Ezrom Legae at Strauss & Co’s Johannesburg gallery (19 June – 28 July 2023). Curated by Wilhelm van Rensburg, Head Curator, Strauss & Co, the exhibition features a vibrant programme of events honouring the publication of The Sculptures of Sydney Kumalo and Ezrom Legae. The book will be formally launched at Strauss & Co’s Johannesburg offices on Thursday 22 June, with interview-led presentations by Gavin Watkins and Charles Skinner. On Saturday 24 June, Gavin Watkins will do a walkabout of the exhibition of the Kumalo and Legae exhibition at Strauss & Co.

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