19th century, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts and Jewellery

including highly important paintings from The Shill Collection and The Late Sol Munitz Collection, The Dr Johan Bolt Collection of Cape Furniture and The Dr JR and Mary Strong Collection of Chinese and Japanese Ceramics and Works of Art
Cape Town

10:00am Mon 18 Mar 2019


Select a Session

Go to Lot

Click on the image to zoom

Lot 576

South African 1906-1982
Blue Orgy
oil on canvas
59,5 by 49,5cm

 View a Condition Report

Walter Battiss’s much-loved orgy scenes from the 1970s flowed naturally from his intrepid research into the “magical schemata”1 of indigenous rock art. Compositionally, his graphically reduced prints and drawings of fondling and fornicating figures presented in depthless space hark back to the formal invention of rock art. Battiss was an acute observer of this earlier art. “The rock painters were not seduced by colour, were never tempted to abandon form for colour,” he wrote in 1945. “Form is timeless security – the suggestion of the eternal not the ephemeral. Colour fades, form remains.”2 Battiss’s mature practice also synthesised various innovations and themes drawn from European modernist painting. The jouissance of Matisse’s gambolling figures in The Dance (1909) are unavoidable and implicit reference in relation to this lot. Battiss’s formal innovations were matched by an energetic technique. His archive includes many sgraffito compositions depicting figures etched with casual confidence into his thick paint surfaces. Although chromatically restrained, this work bears many of the hallmarks of this powerful figural archive. This archive frequently drew from Battiss’s wide-eyed observations and doings as a life-long traveller for inspiration. In his later years Battiss famously embraced the free-spirited mores of the sexual revolution, painting nude with fellow artists and even participating in a sexual orgy in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

-Sean O'Toole


1. Esmé Berman (1970) Art and Artists of South Africa, Cape Town: AA Balkema. Page 39.

2. Walter Battiss (1945) Wall text (WBC/08/010, 1945) at exhibition The Origins of Walter Battiss: 'Another Curious Palimpsest', Origins Centre, Johannesburg, 2016.

Stephan Welz & Co, Cape Town, 4 June 2013, lot 520.

Estimate: R 400 000 - 600 000 

Sold for R 480 000
Which is R 546 240 incl Buyer's Premium and VAT

Lot Images Select an image below to view

Other lots that might interest you

Lot 585

Walter Battiss
Boy with Butterflies
R 100 000 - 150 000

Lot 498

Walter Battiss
Site: 'Magalakwin No 351', Dist. Potgietersrust, Tvl
R 40 000 - 60 000

Lot 596

Walter Battiss
Water Carriers
R 180 000 - 240 000

Lot 566

Alexis Preller
Collected Images (Orchestration of Themes)
R 7 000 000 - 9 000 000

Lot 571

Cecil Skotnes
Kitchen Still Life
R 450 000 - 600 000

Lot 604

Hennie Niemann Jnr
Prelude to the Dance
R 100 000 - 150 000