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A Groovy Kind of Love at Strauss & Co

  3 February 2014     Archived

All eyes are on Strauss & Co's upcoming auction scheduled for 17 March 2014 at The Vineyard Hotel, Newlands in Cape Town. Whether your interests lie in South African or international fine arts, decorative arts or jewellery, there's plenty to tempt the senses.

Amongst the gems by Irma Stern, Maggie Laubser, Pieter Wenning and Robert Gwelo Goodman is Stanley Pinker’s Love (R500 000 – 700 000).

This rare, previously undocumented painting by Pinker is a sassy interpretation of swinging sixties style, strongly influenced by the artist’s training and experiences in the United Kingdom and France from 1951– 1964. Britain’s post-war prosperity fuelled a youth-oriented, mod-culture with London at its epicentre. It was epitomised by music from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the The Kinks, amongst others, while fashion guru Mary Quant popularised the miniskirt. Jean Shrimpton, called “The Face of the 60s”, became the world’s first supermodel and Twiggy followed, ushering in a new look. Who does not remember that self-conscious theatricality that models emulated – the gawky girlish posture of knees together, feet apart and hand over pouted lips?

While drawing on that trendy look, Pinker imbues his model with elegance if not a rather world-weary ennui. This is no child-like supermodel but a woman whose awareness of her own power lends her a sexy, Bohemian appeal. Her bouffant hair a la Brigitte Bardot, is tousled as if she were recently aroused from sleep, but still remains stylish. And her attitude, poised with cigarette in hand, reminds us that smoking was not only de rigeur, it was positively sophisticated and consciously defiant of bourgeois attitudes.

It was a time when old guard conventions were being challenged across the board. Artists such as Robert Indiana were able to bridge the gap between Hard-edge Abstraction and Pop Art with his iconic, Love. According to Judith Hecker, Assistant Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books at MoMA, LOVE was commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art in 1965 as a Christmas card, and has appeared in prints, paintings, sculptures, banners, rings, tapestries, and stamps. Full of erotic, religious, autobiographical, and political underpinnings – especially when it was co-opted as an emblem of 1960s idealism – LOVE is both accessible and complex in meaning.

Within a year or two, Pinker had created this unforgettable painting. Not only is the nude’s fleshy sensuousness structured by a thorough understanding of Cubist principles but his up-to-date knowledge of the very latest cultural developments on the international scene assure the artist of his rightful place at the helm of South African art.

Quips Ann Palmer, Art Department Head at Strauss & Co: “As a product of the swinging sixties myself, I find this painting of particular appeal. It is one of the most exciting works on the sale. What more can I say? All You Need is Love”.
Text: Emma Bedford - Senior Paintings Expert


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