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

Live Virtual Auction, 8 - 11 November 2020

Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art Part II

Sold for

ZAR 182 080
Lot 856
  • Edoardo Villa; Two Figures
  • Edoardo Villa; Two Figures
  • Edoardo Villa; Two Figures
  • Edoardo Villa; Two Figures

Lot Estimate
ZAR 120 000 - 150 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 182 080

About this Item

South African 1915-2011
Two Figures

signed and dated 1970

height: 45cm; width: 44cm; depth: 50cm


Some spectacular aesthetic shifts took place on the Highveld in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Against a background of discriminatory politics, increasing international isolation, and eye-opening technological advancement, the careers of a remarkable group of artists – sculptors, in particular – overlapped in the 1950s and 1960s in Johannesburg. Although each came from a different cultural and artistic background to the next, all were loosely tied together by an interest in developing a distinctive African idiom, a similar commitment to quality craftsmanship, a joy in local motifs, and an appreciation of broad-minded gallerists and teachers. Cecil Skotnes, Edoardo Villa, Sydney Kumalo and Ezrom Legae, each mentoring or riffing off the other, produced unique sets of masterpieces defined by an elegant reduction of form, characterised by a captivating tactility, and enlivened by an African spirit. All were inevitably drawn into the circle of German émigré art dealer Egon Guenther, in whose experience, careful eye, and exacting standards they came to trust.

While Guenther championed these artists under the banner of the Amadlozi Group (Legae was a later member), both locally and abroad, he helped them develop their styles and their reputations through solo and two-man shows at his eponymous gallery, first in Bree Street and then at his Linksfield home, with its purpose-built gallery wing laid out by Donald Turgel. Guenther arranged shows for Villa in 1962, 1963 and 1968; for Kumalo in 1962, 1963, 1966 and 1967; and for Legae in 1966. Some examples from this golden period are included here (lots 853–858): conceived in 1965, Legae’s Lying Nude (lot 855), with its plump, segmented limbs and strained neck, suggests an uneasy balance between repose and suffering; Kumalo’s Kneeling Figure (lot 854), from the same year, with its compressed limbs and dense flesh, is a study in stifled energy; while Villa’s cylindrical Torso (lot 857), typical of his small, upright bronzes from 1968, relies on geometric incisions, angleshifting facets, the interplay of volume and outline, as well as a certain degree of imagination.

View all Edoardo Villa lots for sale in this auction

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