A special focus on The White House Gallery in Strauss & Co’s online sale showcases rare international prints

30 Jan 2024

Strauss & Co’s first timed online sale for 2024, open from 5 to 12 February, features a special tribute to Alan Uria and The White House Gallery, and a rare offering of international prints. 

Strauss & Co’s first monthly timed online art sale for 2024, open from 5 to 12 February,features a special tribute to Alan Uria and The White House Gallery, and a rare offering of international prints.  The sale offers a brilliant selection of Modern and Contemporary Art, and sees four sessions, including Art Club which will be hosted in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 6 February in collaboration with Kalashnikovv Gallery. 

A focus on printmaking, locally and abroad

This month’s themed session focuses on Alan Uria – the late South African collector, art-lover and gallerist – and the recently closed White House Gallery, which he founded with fellow collector, Clive Sergay. 

Inspired by a white house in Oaklands, Johannesburg, which would be its first address, the Gallery later relocated to the suburb of Illovo, and went on to become an important source of 20th Century, Contemporary International and Local art in  South Africa, with a wide-ranging inventory comprised of editions, drawings, paintings, and sculptures. 

“After years of collecting, Alan had developed a profound and particular interest in International, Modern and Contemporary art, and the White House Gallery naturally reflected this passion,” says the Gallery.  

Of particular interest in this sale is the selection of prints from The White House Gallery, among them works by major names like Marino Marini, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol

As Strauss & Co Senior Art Specialist & Head Curator Wilhelm van Rensburg explains, the significance of this session is the historical and contemporary upsurge of printmaking, internationally and locally. “Internationally, there was a renewed interest in printmaking, especially silkscreen, in the 1960s and that was spearheaded by artists like Andy Warhol in the US and David Hockney in the UK.” 

In South Africa, the uptake occurred in the 1970s, with prints being more accessible to buyers than paintings, which remains the case today.  “Local galleries got on the bandwagon and gallerists like Linda Goodman, Natalie Knight and Uria and The Whitehouse Gallery brought a number of international prints into the country,” says Van Rensburg. 

At the time, these prints allowed local collectors to feel more in touch with the global art world. Today, with a renewed global interest in the medium, they are re-emerging on the secondary market with significantly increased value, and The White House Gallery session forms part of this renewed interest in the medium. 

“There’s a strong presence of celebrating printmaking in South Africa and Alan Uria was a notable exponent of that movement,” explains Van Rensburg.

Modern and Contemporary highlights

Print highlights of the sale are the works of American artist and pioneering member of the Happenings movement, Jim Dine, whose prints are known for their strong, graphic quality, bright colors, and uncomplicated imagery.  Dine’s The Soft Ground (estimate R 150 000 – 200 000) as well as Flowered Robe with Sky (estimate R 150 000 – 200 000), from his well-known bathrobe series, are just two of his works on the sale. 

Also represented on the sale is French-born, Los Angeles-based artist Thierry Guetta, best known by his moniker Mr. Brainwash. A number of the artist’s pop-art, street-art inspired prints feature. 

Outside of the themed session, highlights include a highly collectable and rare Robert Hodgins watercolour (estimate R 20 000 – 30 000), a selection of Guy du Toit’s inimitably quirky and playful sculptures, and an extremely rare set of five carved wooden figures by Walter Battiss (estimate R 50 000 – 70 000) made after a trip to Tahiti in 1978. In addition to the themed focus session and Art Club, aimed at first-time or new collectors, other sessions in the February online sale are Impression/Expression, featuring a range of still life and portrait works, and Re/View, which offers buyers a chance to rediscover and acquire pieces they may have missed or previously overlooked.

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