A wide range of paintings and sculptures, including rare works commissioned by renowned anatomist and anthropologist Raymond Dart, go on auction by Stephan Welz & Co. in Johannesburg between March 28 and 29.
Notable among the works are bronze sculptures of the heads of a Khoikhoi (Hottentot) and a Pondo male by Willem de Sanderes Hendrikz (1910 – 1959). They are among seven studies of indigenous peoples commissioned by Dart, best known for his involvement in the 1924 discovery of the first fossil ever found of Australopithecus Africanus, an extinct hominid and one of our earliest ancestors, at Taung, today known as the North West province.
As with most of Hendrikz’s works, the heads were only cast once or twice and are exceedingly rare, with only the Zulu head being known to be in a public collection at the University of Pretoria.
Each of the two sculptures on auction has an estimated price from R100 000 to R150 000, with their origins and rarity expected to lead to keen bidding.
During his lifetime, Hendrikz was highly regarded. But due to poor health, he did not create a large body of work and died at age 49. In addition to the two sculptures on auction, Hendrikz sculpted the heads of a Khoi San, a Swazi, a Shangaan, a Mashona and a Zulu. Dart had intended that the heads would be displayed in the Wits University anatomy museum, but they found their way into a private collection.
Four works by contemporary sculptor Angus Taylor (1970 -) provide a strong contrast to Hendrikz. Known for his powerful, often large sculptures, Taylor has his own foundry in Gauteng, enabling him to be experimental in his use of materials and techniques.
Two cement and steel sculptures are on auction: Journey of an African Minotaur with an estimated price of R400 000 to R600 000 and In Donderweer Reën, estimated at R350 000 to R500 000. Two bronze and stone works – Figure I and Figure II – will be on auction, each with an estimated price of R250 000 to R350 000.
Stephan Welz & Co. is also auctioning the only cast of a sculpture by Sydney Kumalo (1935 – 1988), whose dedication to art inspired future generations of black African sculptors.
With an estimated price ofR400 000 to R600 000, his bronze Joy II was created as one of four maquett es, from which the Cape Town Civic Centre would commission one work for its building.
One of the other works was selected, but Kumalo completed Joy II and sold it to a private collector. Another of his bronzes, Moses’s Disciple, is being auctioned with an estimated price of R100 000 to R150 000.
Only fi ve editions of this work were cast. “The selection on off er at this auction has something that appeals most collectors,” says Stephan Welz & Co. director Anton Welz.
“We try to bring to market variety and quality, and I think that, once again, we have achieved this objective with a wide, eclectic mix of historic and contemporary arts.”
The oil on canvas Three Men Waiting by Robert Griffi ths Hodgins (1920 – 2010) refl ects this South African artist’s interpretations of French playwright Alfred Jarry’sgreedy theatrical character Ubu in the riotous 1896 play Ubu, often seen to have opened the door for what became known as modernism in the 20th century.
Hodgins’ art has risen in standing since a retrospective exhibition of his works aft er he passed away in, with Three Men Waiting expected to att ract bids of R600 000 to R900 000.
William Kentridge (1955 -) is represented on the Stephan Welz & Co. auction by his Deserted Stadium, a charcoal and pastel on work with an estimated price of R500 000 to R800 000.
With minimal use of colour in typical Kentridge style, the charcoal and pastel on paper work invites the viewer to imagine what has taken place in the empty stadium or is about to happen.
The vastness of Botswana’s landscape is captured in Home Ward on Sledge by John Koenakeefe Mohl (1903 – 1985), the South African artist commissioned by Kgosi Tshekedi Khama – the grandfather of Botswana’s fi rst president, Sir Seretse Khama – to record scenes of historical importance to the Bechuanas.
It has an estimated price of R200 000 to R400 000 .