Strauss & Company, South Africa’s leading auction house, has experienced brisk trade in the period January to June, generating combined sales of R120 million.
The company’s three live sales, which this year included a new specialist auction exclusively focusing on contemporary art, generated the lion’s share of the turnover, netting R111 million. Four online sales brought in R9.5 million.
Frank Kilbourn, Strauss & Co’s chairperson, said: “We are delighted to have consolidated our position as market leader for modern and contemporary South African art.”
In the contemporary art segment, William Kentridge and Robert Hodgins were placed second and third respectively after Alexis Preller as the most valuable artists sold at auction in 2018. Kentridge generated R7 938 138 from 25 lots sold while Hodgins achieved R6 029 252 from 28 lots. A drawing by William Kentridge, Deep Pool (1996), from his series Colonial Landscapes, sold for R3 414 00 in June.
Preller has emerged as the outstanding performer at Strauss & Co’s auctions so far in 2018. A selection of Prellers offered at the June sale pushed his half-year sales total to R18 209 029 from 13 lots. Preller’s Head (Adapting Itself to the Unendurable), a portrait from 1949, was the highest single lot fetching R7 055 600.
JH Pierneef came in fourth, with sales totalling R5 266 907 from 24 lots, followed by another landscape painter, Erik Laubscher, who netted R4 480 312 from seven lots. Peter Clarke (R3 647 634), Walter Battiss (R3 244 168), Vladimir Tretchikoff (R3 057 451), Gregoire Boonzaier (R2 317 628) and Adriaan Boshoff (R2 163 468) rounded off the table of most valuable artists.
Irma Stern’s floral still life, Dahlias (estimate R8 – R12 million), goes on sale in October. It’s part of a trove of works consigned to Strauss & Co by the Labia Family Trust for the Cape Town October auction.
Alongside works by British, French, Hungarian and Italian painters, the Labia Family Trust consignment includes striking canvases by Gwelo Goodman, Terrence McCaw and Frans Oerder. Pieter Wenning’s bucolic 1918 study of Bishopscourt, The Yellow House (estimate R500 000 to R700 000), ranks withStern’s still life as a highlight. Stern’s masterpiece can be seen before it goes under the hammer at a special showing at the Turbine Art Fair from July 12 to 15.
Strauss & Co are currently consigning work for the October sale in Cape Town and the November sale in Johannesburg, which includes a section on overlooked artists of the 20th century.