Strauss & Co’s Tried-And-Tested Online Platform Builds Bridges During Lockdown
This exquisite online auction offers collectors an opportunity to acquire exciting works in various media while respecting the terms of the public health lockdown. Highlights include a stirring portfolio by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Greg Marinovich, an imaginative depiction of a dog by Norman Catherine, and important portfolio of prints by Diane Victor, an edition of which is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
“Launched in 2013, Strauss & Co’s online sales have acquired their own identity and now form an important part of our annual programme of events,” says Susie Goodman, an executive director at Strauss & Co. “The format of the sale allows us to offer a broad range of works at various price points in a manner that caters to everyone from emerging collectors to seasoned aficionados. We are constantly attracting new collectors. Our March online sale registered 132 new buyers.”
Sculpture, painting, printmaking and photography feature strongly in the offering of works.
Norman Catherine’s Dog Watch (estimate R80 000 – 120 000) is from a small edition of five bronzes and portrays a cartoonish dog with a human head affixed to its back. The sale also includes one of Catherine’s much-loved painted wood sculptures, Blue Figure (estimate R20 000 – 30 000). Two of the three works by celebrated sculptor Jackson Hlungwani depict female subjects. Pregnant Woman (estimate R12 000 – 16 000) is an evocative study of the continuity of human life. Hlungwani’s practice is the subject of a forthcoming exhibition at the Norval Foundation.
Alexander Rose-Innes undated oil, De Leeu Street, District Six, CT (R 120 000 – 180 000), leads a wide selection of historical painting. Rose-Innes is best known for his street scenes depicting Cape Town’s Malay Quarter and District Six. A 1971 study of District Six by Gregoire Boonzaier (estimate R15 000 – 20 000) forms part of a striking consignment of four watercolours by this cofounder of the New Group of artists.
New Group member Cecil Higgs was celebrated in her lifetime for her enigmatic and abstracted portrayal of marine subjects. The sale includes two works in this genre, notably Sea-Curl (estimate R 20 000 – 30 000), which is illustrated in Esmé Berman’s Art & Artists of South Africa (page 187). Pondoland Forest (estimate R30 000 – 50 000) abstractly portrays the Wild Coast region of the Eastern Cape, which Higgs visited in 1952.
Painted in 1966, Ephraim Ngatane’s Still Life with Newspaper (estimate R 40 000 – 60 000) is another noteworthy in oil. The sale also features striking watercolours by Walter Battiss and Gwelo Goodman. Other notable painters on offer include Bettie Cilliers-Barnard, Trevor Coleman and Speelman Mahlangu, all represented by abstract composition. Artists working in a figurative mode include Walter Meyer (three desert landscapes) and Sipho Ndlovu (equine study and landscape).
Greg Marinovich’s Dead Zone (estimate R200 000 – 300 000), a portfolio of 41 digital photographic prints depicting South Africa’s tumultuous transition to democracy, leads a robust selection of photography with a musical theme. Pierre Crocquet’s studies of Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba (estimate R 6 000 – 9 000 each) were both taken at Joy of Jazz, a festival in Johannesburg. Two lots by Roger Ballen depict members of avant-garde pop band Die Antwoord in stylised interior settings (estimate R15 000 – 20 000).
Aside from Marinovich’s portfolio, the sale includes two other important portfolios. Made between 2001 and 2003, Diane Victor’s Disasters of Peace (estimate R 50 000 – 70 000) comprises 16 prints that imaginatively reinterpret Francisco Goya’s print portfolio The Disasters of War (1810-20). Self-published in 1951 by Walter Battiss, Fragments of Africa (estimate R 18 000 – 24 000) comprises 21 folders with cut-out windows each with one or two prints in single or full-colour, in various media.
Other notable works on paper include a combined lot of two etchings by Peter Clarke, Blue Monday and Evening Over Devil’s Peak (estimate R 8 000 – 12 000). The works were gifted by the artist to the seller, Mzwakhe Nhlabatsi, a well-known figure in anti-apartheid publishing in 1980s Johannesburg. Judith Mason’s three lots, Eyes Right I-III (estimate R 40 000 – 60 000 each), derive from a 2009 series of lithographic prints with unique added drawings that were exhibited in Miami in 2016.
South Africa has a strong tradition of printmaking. The sale includes early-career works by JH Pierneef, Cyprian Shilakoe and John Muafangejo, all accomplished printmakers. Muafangejo hailed from Namibia, a country whose distinctive art history is registered in eight works on paper from the estate of collector Wolfgang Biederlack.
“Our online platform offers collectors all the tools to make informed, real-time decisions,” says Susie Goodman. “Collectors have the option of using a visualisation tool to enlarge and differently view works, can immediately view conditions reports, and also access our database of past auction results that extend back to 2009. Another key feature is that the process is absolutely discrete.”
Browse>Bid>Buy on: www.straussart.co.za.