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Strauss & Co to launch contemporary sale in South Africa's oldest working harbour

24 January 2018

Strauss & Co is pleased to announce details of its first-ever dedicated contemporary art sale, due to be held on 17 February 2018. The venue for the 71-lot sale is an impressive former warehouse overlooking the Duncan Docks, a harbour facility at the Port of Cape Town.


Formerly a cold-storage facility it now forms part of a complex of buildings being transformed by the V&A Waterfront into a multi-billion-rand cruise liner terminal and is located a convenient five-minute walk from the V&A Waterfront's Silo District and Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa.

The sale, which focuses on outstanding examples of contemporary art made by South African, African and diaspora artists, will coincide with the Cape Town Art Fair (16-18 February 2018). This pace-setting event at the start of the 2018 South African art calendar is held annually in the Cape Town International Convention Centre, very close to Duncan Dock.

Highlights from the contemporary sale include:

  • an important charcoal and pastel drawing by William Kentridge from his film Felix in Exile (1994), estimates R2 - 2.5 million;
  • an early Cake (1983) painting by Penny Siopis, estimates R600 000 - R 800 000;
  • Joachim Schönfeldt's esteemed portfolio of 27 painted and embossed works on paper, The Model Men (2000-12), estimates R800 000 - R1.2 million;
  • a pyramid sculpture, Third World Disorder (2010), by Kendell Geers, estimates R600 000 - R800 000; and
  • Robert Hodgins, Drunk in the Docks, estimates R800 000 - 1 200 000

The sale also includes works by noted contemporary painters, such as Lisa Brice, Kate Gottgens, Georgina Gratrix, Helen Sebidi and Jessica Webster, as well as striking early works by Zander Blom and Ayanda Mabulu. Recognising the emergence of photography in the period since 1990, photographic works by Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou, Kudzanai Chiurai, Abrie Fourie, Cyrus Kabiru, David Goldblatt, Mohau Modisakeng, Tracey Rose, Mikhael Subotzky and Guy Tillim will be offered.

"The launch of our first contemporary art auction during the Cape Town Art Fair heralds an exciting new direction for Strauss & Co and should, in time, further enhance our relevance and sustainability," said Strauss & Co chairperson, Frank Kilbourn. Together with Strauss & Co's joint managing directors, Bina Genovese and Vanessa Phillips, Kilbourn has been instrumental in guiding the company towards a more diversified offering that now includes six online auctions and a contemporary sale as well as their four live auctions.

Strauss & Co has reason to be bullish about the market for contemporary art. Since it launched in 2009, the company's four annual live auctions - two apiece in Cape Town and Johannesburg - have always included contemporary art. Strauss & Co has achieved over R200 million in sales from just contemporary art in this period.

A broadening of tastes among South African collectors has seen artists like Jane Alexander, Deborah Bell, Norman Catherine, Robert Hodgins, William Kentridge and Penny Siopis perform consistently well at auction. Kentridge now ranks among the top performing artists at auction in South Africa, alongside blue-chip artists like JH Pierneef, Gerard Sekoto and Irma Stern.

Strauss & Co has successfully sold 240 Kentridge lots since 2009, with a cumulative value of R 81 847 896. The two other top-performing contemporaries are Hodgins and Catherine. Hodgins brought in R 43 969 038 from 195 lots sold since 2009, while Catherine has achieved R 11 151 202 from 157 lots sold over the same extended period.

Strauss & Co's commitment to bringing singular works to market saw it achieve a world record in 2011 when it sold an untitled figure sculpture by Jane Alexander, originally exhibited with her iconic The Butcher Boys (1985-86), for R5 456 640.

Recent Strauss & Co live sales have witnessed enthusiastic bidding for a newer generation of artists. Last year, an edition of Mary Sibande's photo Her Majesty, Queen Sophie sold for R193 256, well above its high estimate. Similarly, Billie Zangewa's silk tapestry Working Nights fetched R204 624, quadrupling its high estimate.

An illustrated catalogue, with detailed entries on each lot, accompanies Strauss & Co's contemporary sale. The sale will take place at Cruise Terminal, E Berth, Duncan Docks, Duncan Road, V&A Waterfront on Saturday, 17 February 2018, at 6pm.

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