Press Office

'Stern's Arab Spring' at Strauss & Co Continues

  20 April 2012     Archived

Irma Sterns studies of Arabs have caused so much of an uproar in the South African art market that they can be likened to an Arab Spring with Strauss & Co playing no small role in this. Irma Sterns Arab (R7 000 000 9 000 000), painted on the artists first visit to Zanzibar in 1939, is attracting considerable interest given Strauss & Cos record-breaking sale last year of Irma Sterns Two Arabs for R21 166 000, the highest price ever achieved for any painting at auction in South Africa.

Arab has been in the same family since it was purchased directly from the artist by the present owner’s mother over 70 years ago, and has never before appeared on the market. It is still in its original Zanzibar frame embellished with flowers and foliage that are intended to invoke good fortune.

With over 85% of items sold at Strauss & Co’s February 2012 sale, it’s clear that more South Africans are taking the business of art buying very seriously. Bearing in mind this ever-increasing interest in South African art, Strauss & Co’s upcoming auction on 11 June 2012 at the Country Club Johannesburg in Woodmead has a range of art to suit all tastes and pockets.

Jacob Hendrik Pierneef’s A View Through the Trees, Lowveld (R700 000 – 900 000) depicts the Bankenveld, an area of rare and increasingly endangered vegetation that straddles the North-West, Gauteng and Mpumalanga provinces. A winding path between the trees invites us to step into this composition which the artist has cleverly constructed, employing the curving branches and fine leafy latticework to create an archway though which to view an almost sacred space – the natural environment of the bushveld beyond.

Strauss & Co has broken all auction records for Robert Hodgins in a run of remarkable successes starting with his A Seated Figure, Red Room that sold for R356 480 in May 2011, followed by Greenpiece ’99 No 3 (A Godson of the Godfather) selling for R612 700 in September 2011 and culminating in Igor Stravinsky & Four Women that exceeded all expectations in February this year when it sold for R724 100. Hodgins’ Et in Arcadia Ego (R500 000 – 700 000) and A Gentleman from Mexico (R400 000 – 600 000) are major works that could set new records for this artist.

African Figures and Birds (R300 000 – 500 000) with its linear rhythms and graphic quality provides clear evidence of the research that Walter Battiss conducted into rock art and its influence on the development of his painting. Proud and Angry by Lucas Sithole (R300 000 – 500 000) and African Goat by Ezrom Legae (R100 000 – 150 000) demonstrate the strength of South African sculptures that forge traditional African art forms with Modernist innovations.

Alfred Thoba’s 1976 Riots (R150 000 – 250 000), which was included in the exhibition,
100 Artists Protest Detention without Trial at the Market Gallery in 1988 provides a rare opportunity to acquire a museum-quality work by this artist whose work is not often seen at auction.

Other contemporary art on offer includes a selection of unique drawings by William Kent ridge from Liberty at the Barricades (R600 000 – 900 000) and Drawing from Stereoscope (R500 000 – 700 000) to Kabeljou (R250 000- 350 000); Kudzanai Chiurai’s impressive painting State of Affair (R60 000 – 80 000) and works by leading photographers such as David Goldblatt, Guy Tillim and Zwelethu Mthethwa.

For purposes of quoting text is by Emma Bedford, Senior Art Specialist, Strauss & Co

Media Enquiries:
Bina Genovese (083 680 9944)


Monday 11 June 2012
Country Club Johannesburg, Woodmead

at 2 pm Books
at 3.30  pm Fine South African, British, Continental and American Art
at 8 pm Important South African Art

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Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 June at 11am

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