6 November 2017 Archived
Strauss & Co is delighted to present a number of important artworks by artists who lived and worked in Namibia, as well as by renowned South African artists who were captivated by the country's natural beauty.
The expansive Namibian landscape has profoundly inspired artists for more than 100 years but, as these artworks are rarely seen together, their impact, splendour and importance has been overlooked in recent years.
Strauss & Co's auction will take place in Johannesburg on 13 November at The Wanderers Country Club. These works can be viewed for three days prior to the auction from Friday 10 to Sunday 12 November.
Highlights include two exceptional oil paintings by Adolf Jentsch, After the Rain, dated 1939 and Near the Swakop River, Farm Schenkswerder, Okahandja District painted a year later in 1940. Adolf Jentsch arrived in South West Africa from Germany in 1938 and was thrilled and inspired by his new environment. He had studied art and German Modernism in Dresden but in his adopted country remained faithful to his unsentimental, orthodox approach to painting. He travelled widely staying with friends on their farms where he painted detailed and dazzling landscapes, more often than not paying for his board with a painting.
The Namibian landscape has also fascinated South African artists such as JH Pierneef and Maud Sumner. Pierneef was persuaded to visit South West Africa by two fellow artists in 1923. The uninterrupted horizons, dramatic shadows, pristine isolation and, most notably, the rare, startling light made a deep impression on him resulting in this beautiful rendering of the The Brandberg, SWA, destined to attract much attention on the upcoming auction.
When Sumner visited Namibia in 1965 she was entranced by what she found. There are no less than four of her works on the auction demonstrating her sensitivity and appreciation of the inimitable landscape: three oil paintings titled Swakopmund, Namib Desert No 12, and Namib, and a watercolour titled Roadway through Mountains. Her Namib paintings are considered her finest produced during her last active years as an artist and are distinguished by their subtly modulated colour fields.
Few artists have captured the haunted isolation of the deserted towns of Namibia more dramatically than Keith Alexander. His first visit in 1980 gave new impetus and direction to his work. Two large and striking oil paintings feature on the upcoming auction, Petrified Land painted in 1987 and Kolmanskop in Fog. Both depict once stately homes, stark reminders of former affluent and luxurious lives, now abandoned and transformed into ghostly and decaying structures reclaimed by the relentless shifting dunes of the desert.
Other artists who fell under the spell of the breathtaking Namib include Gordon Foster as depicted in S.W.A Impression, and Fleur Ferri's remarkable Desert Evening near Lüderitz both garnering much attention in anticipation of the auction.
Text by Marion Dixon