Jacob Hendrik Pierneef is one of the most prolific and collectable South African artists of the 20th century. He gained his generational legacy by revolutionizing and redefining the concept of truly genuine South African art. It was his belief that South Africans had a unique aesthetical style and this notion stemmed into the thematical concerns of specifically Pierneef’s earlier works. He simplified his landscapes using geometric structures, flat planes, lines, and colour to represent the harmony, order and overall uniqueness found in nature. It is the perpetuation of finding a truly genuine South African aesthetic which aided Pierneef in redefining the cannon of South African art. It is the primary reason why he is so collectable amongst serious art investors.
Pierneef’s love for the country and its people drove his desire to promote everything that was truly South African in terms of art, music, and architecture, and in turn, formed his philosophy of life.
Although Pierneef’s influence reached far beyond his lifetime – he was heavily invested in developing the cultural mindset of South Africa and dedicated himself to working with several publications which held these matters in great regard. During the 1920’s Pierneef was the acting art editor of a publication called “Die Nuwe Brandwag”. The aim of the publication was to release quarterly issues which discussed South African music, architecture, poetry, literature, theatre, and art. It was during this time that Pierneef allowed the publication to use his linocuts in some of their issues.
The geometrical element of Pierneef’s art meant that mediums such as linocuts were favourable to the artists and their influence and collectability have far exceeded any artist of his generation. Pierneef allowed the publication to photograph each linocut to assist with the photo-engraving process. Photo-engraving is a photochemical process which uses a plate (either made from steel or in this case resin) which is then treated by the appropriate photosensitive substance in order to lift the image onto the plate. It is then pressed onto a flat paper surface to transfer the image – in typesetting this image would be called a line block.
Providing his linocuts for publications such as “The Nuwe Brandwag” was a common practice for Pierneef as he felt an obligation to assist and support various artistic endeavours in South Africa. This was all done in the jest of trying to form a truly unique South African artistic aesthetic. These line blocks are relatively scarce to investors and make an interesting collectable given their significance.
A selection of these line blocks will be on offer during the Stephan Welz & Co Premium Johannesburg Auction this March. Recognizable linocuts which have been transformed into block lines include “The House by Silverton”, “Union Building and Thorn Tree”, “House, Old Pretoria” and “Preller’s House, Pretoria”.
Stephan Welz & Co’s March auction is just around the corner and true to our nature we have many interesting pieces on offer.
We encourage collectors to mark their diaries for the 28th of March 2023. To register or bid please visit www.swelco.co.za and for any condition reports or queries please contact us on 011 880 3125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pierneef’s love for the country and its people drove his desire to promote everything that was truly South African in terms of art, music, and architecture, and in turn formed his philosophy of life.