This week started with a refreshing look at the unsung artists in Africa thanks to a curated experience of work from South African and African artists between 1910 and 1994 at The Wanderers Club in Johannesburg.
The exhibition was one of the cornerstones of the Strauss and Co auction that took place on November 12.
The exhibition commemorated curator Steven Sack presenting his landmark exhibition, The Neglected Tradition: Towards a New History of South African Art in 1988, at the Johannesburg Art Gallery.
Works on display and auction included Moses Tladi, the first black artist to be exhibited at the South African National Gallery. His work Mountain Landscape portrays Mont-aux-Sources in his typically enraptured manner.
John Koenakeefe Mohl, who appeared on Sack’s Neglected Tradition, is represented by a pastoral scene painted in Serowe, Botswana.
The auction, by value, was the biggest for the fine art auctioneers, exceeding R80 million. Of that, 26 lots reached over R1 million.
Under the hammer was 11 Irma Sterns, 17 Pierneef paintings, including a thrilling landscape painted in the Seychelles. There were also nine Maggie Laubsers and five Alexis Preller’s.
The sale also included a strong selection of sculptures including the riveting sculpture by Dr Phuthuma Seoka’s carved and painted wood figures, Page vs. Coetzee.
It depicts two prominent heavyweight boxers from the ’80s and reads like an allegory of the troubled period it was created in, where black South Africans supported Page and not SA champ Gerrie Coetzee.
Most importantly – Strauss and Co displayed an important part of the secondary art market where excellent work is on display for free outside of a gallery space, with great research behind each sculpture and canvas that gives it another level of engagement – even if you didn’t register to a paddle on auction day.
The next live Strauss and Co auction takes place next year, February 16 in Cape Town.