Press Office

A Strong Suit at Strauss & Co

  18 February 2016     Archived

Look out for Strauss & Co’s eye-catching auction catalogue with its amusing cover, Bad Man in Great Threads (R700 000 – 900 000) by Robert Hodgins.

Suited for success, this scoundrel, given a mischievous makeover by Hodgins and situated in the arena of high art - American Abstract Expressionism - is a winner. According to Senior Art Specialist, Emma Bedford, the Strauss & Co catalogue provides a cornucopia of the best in South African art, from a rare casein by JH Pierneef to an early tapestry by Athi-Patra Ruga, all of which are coming up at Strauss & Co's 14 March 2016 auction at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands.

Headlining the international art is a unique drawing by Marc Chagall demonstrating once again this company's global reach. Chagall's Pour Gustave Zumsteg (R1 100 000 - 1 300 000) is dedicated to the proprietor of Kronenhalle, a legendary Swiss restaurant frequented by artists and luminaries of the beau monde such as Sophia Loren, Yves Saint Laurent and Rudolf Nureyev. The lot is accompanied by a commemorative book on Kronenhalle.

Maggie Laubser's Birds and Boats (R700 000 - 900 000), an excellent example of her work, has a wonderful provenance, having been acquired directly from the artist by a close friend, whose family had lived for generations on the Lanzerac farm. Two glorious Hugo Naudé spring landscapes, awash with light and colour, were once owned respectively by a leading educator and a former sports star who played international rugby and led his cricket teams to victory.

Red Rock (R600 000 - 900 000), one of the most striking paintings by Walter Battiss ever to come to auction, draws on the artist's studies of rock art that were to play such a major role in the development of his unique style. His research culminated in the publication in 1948 of The artists of the rocks. On visiting Paris in 1949 to present a copy to Picasso, the latter enquired, "Tell me now Battiss, am I as good as your Bushman artists?"


Walter Battiss
Red Rock
signed and dated May ‘49
oil on canvas
63 by 98,5cm
R600 000–900 000

In the remarkable, life-size Sleeper Red (R800 000 - 1 200 000) William Kentridge pushes printmaking to the limits by using his own thumb and handprints to build up the textures of flesh. Younger artists like Ian Grose, Zander Blom, Dorothee Kreutzfeldt and Bridget Baker make a good showing and are expected to draw keen bidding.

On the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of District Six as a white area, the auction offers several views of this much-loved area. Foremost of these is a major painting by Gregoire Boonzaier entitled Moskee, Chapelstraat, Distrik Ses, Kaapstad (R600 000 - 800 000). Painted in 1960 at a significant moment in history, Boonzaier records the day-to-day life of its inhabitants, celebrating the cultural heritage of old Cape Town and the memory of District Six.

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Bina Genovese
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