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Strauss & Co proudly supports the Friends of the South African Pavilion at Biennale Arte Venice 2017.

  2 May 2017     Archived

Strauss & Co, South Africa's leading auction house by turnover and sell-through rate, is proud to announce its support of the Friends of the South African Pavilion, a network of contributing patrons at this year's 57th Biennale Arte in Venice, which opens to the public on Saturday, 13 May 2017. Founded 1895, the Biennale Arte is the world's most prestigious contemporary art event and an important platform to leverage national aspiration on a global stage.

The South African Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale is produced by Connect Channel, a media company appointed by the South African Department of Arts and Culture (DAC). South Africa's national pavilion will showcase the work of two artists, Candice Breitz and Mohau Modisakeng. Lucy MacGarry, formerly a curator with the FNB Joburg Art Fair, and Musha Neluheni, who is currently acting chief curator at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, will curate the presentation.

Strauss & co is delighted to be able to contribute towards the successful promotion of the national pavilion, a much-needed initiative that since 2011 has presented contemporary South African visual artists to an international audience.

"Strauss & Co is constantly examining ways to deepen its involvement in South African art and to extend the scope of its auctions to include more pan-African works of art," says Frank Kilbourn, Strauss & Co's executive chairman. "Being a Friend of the South African Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale affirms Strauss & Co's firm commitment to this plan, as well as our dedication to our country and its artists."

Kilbourn adds, "As global market leader in the secondary market for South African art, we have a responsibility to support the development and visibility of our artists. Our involvement with the South African Pavilion forms part of a year-round programme of events to promote the remarkable talents of our artists, past and present. We are excited to be supporting the efforts of two very dynamic artists, Candice Breitz and Mohau Modisakeng."

Kilbourn will be in Venice for the professional week, 8-13 May, together with Strauss & Co director, Caro Wiese and Bina Genovese, joint managing director. They will be co-hosting the Friends of the South African Pavilion party on 10 May 2017 at the Palazzo Pisani Moretta. "This is indeed a great honour for Strauss & Co and a first for any South African auction house dealing in South African art," says Genovese of Strauss & Co's involvement.

This is the first time that Strauss & Co will be involved in supporting the Pavilion, however, its support is consistent with the company's role in promoting and growing the audience for work by leading South African artists. Indeed, many of the artists who have excelled at Strauss & Co auctions in recent years also showed at Venice.

South Africa's earliest involvement with the Biennale Arte dates back to 1950, when the country exhibited in the "foreign halls" of the biennale's central pavilion in the Napoleonic public gardens. Many of the names associated with Strauss & Co sales, including Walter Battiss, Alexis Preller, Irma Stern, Maud Sumner and Maurice van Essche, were involved in the earliest iterations of South Africa's national pavilion. Stern, for instance, exhibited in Venice throughout the 1950s.

In 1966, Sydney Kumalo, at the time South Africa's best-known sculptor, showed work at Venice. Following vigorous protests against South Africa's presence at the 1968 biennale, which included four tapestries from the Evangelical Lutheran Arts and Crafts Centre in Rorke's Drift, South African was officially excluded from the Venice Biennale. The country was only invited to show again in 1993. In 2011, after an absence of a national show since 1995, the DAC initiated a national pavilion.

Strauss & co is thrilled to be contributing towards the fourth consecutive installment of the South African Pavilion, an initiative whose proud vision of the present will no doubt define the auction stars of the future.

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