Strauss & Co’s penultimate online auction for 2023 features a focus on Line | Colour | Shape | Form

23 Nov 2023

Strauss & Co’s November timed online sale of Modern and Contemporary Art, open from 17 to 27 November, provides a unique overview of South African work using art elements in dynamic ways, and offers established and first-time collectors the opportunity to grow their collections. 

In this penultimate sale of the year, over 400 works feature across four sessions, namely Art Club, Impression/Expression, Re/View, and the special themed session Line | Colour | Shape | Form.

Art Club opens the sale andfeatures strong Old Master works including Gregoire Boonzaier’s Fuscias (estimate R 50 000 – 70 000), and a range of J.H.Pierneef drawings and prints, among them, Doringboom (estimate R 15 000 – 20 000), the farm landscape Study for Plaaswerf (estimate R 20 000 – 30 000), and Boomstamme (Nilant 101) (estimate R 20 000 – 30 000).

Contemporary highlights in this session are William Kentridge’s Man With Megaphone (estimate R 40 000 – 60 000), Nelson Makamo’s Never Talk Back (estimate R 80 000 – 120 000), anda selection of Guy du Toit’s highly sought-after hares (ranging from R15000 to R25000).

Also worth highlighting is a collection of works from Robert HodginsSilent Movie series (estimatedR 15 000 – 20 000 each), and Strauss & Co’s recent catalogue raisonné, The Sculptures of Sydney Kumalo and Ezrom Legae by Gavin Watkins and Charles Skinner(estimated R3 000 – R5 000). 

Embracing the elements

A brief overview of South African abstract art is evident through the works included in this month’s themed session, Colour | Line | Shape | Form. Through bold colours, expressive lines, unique shapes, and captivating forms, these artworks push the boundaries of abstraction. The session offers a powerful glimpse into the diverse and innovative world of South African artists. The session runs parallel to Strauss & Co’s exhibition and book launch on the work of South African abstract painter Nel Erasmus.

Having emerged in the 1940s and 50s as a breakaway from traditional methods of painting, Abstract Expressionism is most closely associated with a movement in American painting that flourished in New York City after World War II. Many South African artists worked in a similar tradition.

“Often, we find artists will tend towards abstraction when other styles of painting cannot readily express what they’re going through, or what’s taking place around them,” says Strauss & Co Art  Specialist, Kayleen Wrigley. “Historically, this has been in times of war or global economic crises.”

Two paintings by the pioneering South African woman painter Cecil Higgs also feature. These are Abstract Composition in Green and Blue (estimated R 25 000 – 35 000) and the darkly expressive Black Rain Pool (estimated R 7 000 – 9 000).

Stand-out works in this session also include a selection of rare black and white sketchbook studies by Hodgins from the artist’s estate. Works by Hodgins presented in this sale exemplify the artist’s sensitive use of line. 

Contemporary abstract art is well-represented by the likes of Jan-Henri Booyens, Kate Gottgens, Lucy Jane-Turpin, and Mongezi Ncaphayi, whose striking and richly coloured Old City Gates (Inbetween Worlds) (Estimated R 12 000 – 16 000) is set to be a firm highlight of the sale. Signature silkscreens by Walter Battiss will also feature in this session, as will a geometric composition with distinctive shape and colour (Estimated R 10 000 – 15 000) by Hungarian-French artist Victor Vasarely, largely considered as a pioneer of the Op Art movement.

This month’s Impression/Expression session features a range of South African artists from past and present, with a good amount of landscapes and sculptures.  

Notably, a few works by the pioneering printmaker Alice Goldin will feature in this session. Goldin’s session of previously unseen printworks did extremely well in Strauss & Co’s September online sale. Four prints and an abstract landscape painting by Goldin will feature in this session, all at attractive estimates.

Another noteworthy work in this session is the unique monoprint by Lippy Lipshitz of a sleeping cat (estimated R 2 000 – 3 000). Four of Lipshitz’s sculptures are also included in the sale, along with  Maggie Laubser’s Portrait of an Old Woman Wearing a Head Scarf (estimated R 40 000 – 60 000). 

“With the recent exhibition of her portraits at Cape Town’s Norval Foundation, Laubser’s work is enjoying renewed focus,” adds Wrigley. 

An opportunity to revisit overlooked works

Lastly, Re/View presents collectors with an opportunity to rediscover and acquire pieces that they may have missed or previously overlooked. It also allows emerging collectors to acquire works by high-profile artists at accessible prices. Prominent pieces from Pierneef, Boonzaier, Keith Alexander, and Alexis Preller are on offer in this session. 

Strauss & Co’s November timed online sale closes in 1-minute intervals from 2pm on Monday 27 November. 

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