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Important British, Continental and South African Paintings, Drawings, Prints and Sculpture - Edoardo Villa

  15 August 2009     Archived

Edoardo Villa is one of South Africa's most enigmatic sculptors who, in both in style and personality, indelibly stamped his African Vision onto his works and into our consciousness over a period of more than 50 years. The thirteen Villas in the Strauss & Co. upcoming sale are remarkable in that they represent a range of stylistic diversity and evolution not usually seen except in a specifically curated exhibition.

This impressive group of works from various consignors spans a period of thirty years, the earliest work dating from 1963 and the most recent 1998. One seldom has the privilege of working with such a wonderful range of iconic pieces  which are not likely to appear again in one sale. According to Painting’s specialist Mary-Jane Darroll, they represent the finest examples she has dealt with in her career.

“ it is indeed surprising to see so many works by the prolific Italian-born sculptor Edoardo Villa on auction. This leads one to surmise that they belonged to a single collector, as the pieces cover a wide range of Villa's oeuvre. The "Masai warrior" of 1963 attests to his masterful use of prefabricated mechanical metal parts, which he blends in iconic figures, standing proudly tall and assertive. This verticality, which embodies the mammal who stood up, i.e. the human, is characteristic of much of Villa's work, as can be seen in subsequent sculptures of 1970, 1971, and 1993, where the formal language changes, but the vertical core remains. Ever exploring, however, Villa may swing from works that are bursting with fecund energy in their massive rotundity, as does the bronze "Figure" of 1970, to the slender, almost disembodied forms of the highly polished steel 1971 "Conversation". Another venture into the lesser known, ishis exploration of the use of polystyrene packaging materials; this smaller "Abstract form" is a unique cast, as the original disappears during the mould-making process. Here again, he masterfully adapts mechanical geometrical formal elements in expressive combinations, while the expert casting by Mike Edwards retains the texture of the original material.While Villa's assistant Lucas Legode was on leave, Villa reverted to modelling for bronze, and in these works his gentler, more emotive side comes to the fore in small intimate groups. Earlier pieces were more figurative, later ones as these of 1998 and 1988 become more egetable/animal, but no less expressive of gentle interrelationships. “

Amalie von Maltitz
26 July 2009


Country Club, Johannesburg, Woodmead
Corner Lincoln Road & Woodlands Drive, Woodmead, Johannesburg

On view:
Friday 4 September, Saturday 5 September and Sunday 6 September
10.00 am to 6.00 pm

Part I at 3.30pm
South African Paintings, Drawings, Prints and Sculpture
Lots 1-222
Part II at 8.00pm
Important British, Continental and South African Paintings, Drawings, Prints and Sculpture
Lots 1-143

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Telephone: 087 806 8780