Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Jewellery and Fine Wine

Live Virtual Auction, 8 - 11 November 2020

The Tasso Foundation Collection

Sold for

ZAR 1 251 800
Lot 394
  • Alexis Preller; The Red Pineapples
  • Alexis Preller; The Red Pineapples
  • Alexis Preller; The Red Pineapples
  • Alexis Preller; The Red Pineapples
  • Alexis Preller; The Red Pineapples

Lot Estimate
ZAR 700 000 - 1 000 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 1 251 800

About this Item

South African 1911-1975
The Red Pineapples

signed and dated '49; inscribed with the title on the reverse

oil on canvasboard
49,5 by 59,5cm excluding frame; 75,5 by 88 by 1,5cm including frame


In 1948 Alexis Preller sailed up the east coast of Africa on a visit to the Seychelles. Whether this sensual still life was painted on this visit or shortly afterwards, it was no doubt inspired by his experiences of the place and its people. In letters to his sister, Minnie, he extols the attractions of the islands – the turquoise sea, the exotic vegetation, tropical fruits such as pineapples and mangoes, and the locals draped in ‘exciting tangas’.1 Preller bought the first of his many printed cotton cloths when he visited Swaziland in the late 1930s and he used them constantly – in his paintings as ‘altar’ cloths and backdrops (see figures 1 and 2), and in his everyday life as tablecloths and throws.² Many of the cloths that appear in his work have designs in white, red and black, what the anthropologist Victor Turner calls the ‘triad’ of colours central to sub-Saharan African belief systems. The colours are worn close to the body as clothing, drapery or beadwork, to protect the wearer and maintain the balance between benevolent and malevolent forces. They have associations rather than specific ‘meanings’ – white is always regarded as positive, healthy, and cool, but both red and black can be positive, negative, or ambivalent, being associated with heat, illness, danger, life, death, blood, fire, the sun, and the ancestors.

1.  Esmé Berman and Karel Nel (2009) Alexis Preller: Africa, the Sun and Shadows, Johannesburg: Shelf, page 124.

2. Ibid, page 42.


Stephan Welz & Co in association with Sotheby’s, Johannesburg, 30 November 1993, lot 513.

Strauss & Co, Cape Town, 21 October 2013, lot 725.

The Tasso Foundation Collection of Important South African Art assembled by the Late Giulio Bertrand of Morgenster Estate.

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