Live Auction, 12 November 2018
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About this Item
Many of Irma Stern’s still-life paintings include both fruit and flowers, more often than not in combination with objets d’art from her eclectic collection. Several also contain examples of her own ceramics. In most of these works, Stern arranged fruit nestling in bowls or shattered below unruly bunches of freshly-cut flowers. From time to time, she also sliced open watermelons, paw paws, peaches, even pumpkins to reveal their invitingly fleshy interiors, while in a few works dating to the 1920s and 1930s, casually displayed books seem to suggest the presence of a reader. Throughout her life, Stern returned again and again to the plants that were readily available either in her own garden or from the flower market in Adderley Street in central Cape Town. Always concerned to preserve spontaneity, her seemingly haphazard arrangement of flowers, fruit, bowls, carpets and other items suggest lack of thought. Clearly, though, Stern remained keenly attentive to the spatial and compositional relationships between the different forms she chose to include in her works.
Adapted from: Sandra Klopper (2018). ‘Life Force: The Still Lifes of Irma Stern’, in Wilhelm van Rensburg (ed.), Life Force: The Still Lifes of Irma Stern, Johannesburg: Strauss & Co.