Strauss & Co is delighted to present a large number of important artworks by artists who lived and worked in Namibia, as well as renowned South African artists who were captivated by the country’s expansive natural beauty.
The Namibian landscape has profoundly inspired artists for more than 100 years, but as these artworks are rarely seen together, their impact, splendour and importance have been overlooked in recent years.
Strauss & Co’s auction will take place in Johannesburg on 13 November at Wanderers Country Club in Johannesburg and these exceptional works can be viewed by the public for three days prior to the auction from Friday10 to Sunday 12 November at the same venue.
Highlights of the Namibian paintings on auction include two exceptional landscapes by Adolf Jentsch (1888-1977), one titled After the Rain, dated 1939, and another Near the Swakop River, Farm Schenkswerder, Okahandja District painted a year later in 1940. Adolf Jentsch arrived in the then South West Africa from Germany in 1938 and was thrilled and inspired by his new environment. He had studied art and German Modernism in Dresden but in his adopted country remained faithful to his unsentimental, orthodox approach to painting. He travelled widely staying on the farms of friends where he painted detailed and dazzling landscapes and, more often than not, paying for his board with a painting.
The Namibian landscape has also fascinated renowned South African artists such as JH Pierneef (1886 – 1975) and Maud Sumner (1902 – 1985). Pierneef was persuaded to visit what was then South West Africa by two fellow artists in1923. The landscape with its uninterrupted horizons, dramatic shadows, pristine isolation and, most memorably, its rare, startling light, left a deep impression on Pierneef. This resulted in the beautiful rendering of the mountainous landscape, The Brandberg, SWA, which will undoubtedly attract much attention on the upcoming auction.
There are no less than four works on auction by Sumner that demonstrate her sensitivity to and appreciation of the inimitable Namibian landscape: an extensive landscape oil painting titled Swakopmund, also Namib Desert No 12, and another, Namib. Included on the sale is also a charming watercolour, Roadway through Mountains. When Sumner visited Namibia in 1965 she was entranced by what she found. Her Namib paintings are considered her finest produced during her last active years as an artist and are renowned for their subtly modulated colour fields.
Few artists have captured the haunted isolation of deserted towns of the desert more dramatically than Keith Alexander (1946 – 1998). He first visited the ghost towns in southern Namibia in 1980 and this encounter was for Alexander an intense experience giving new impetus and direction to his work. There are two large and striking oil paintings by the artist on the upcoming auction, Petrified Land painted in 1987 and Kolmanskop in Fog. Typically both paintings feature once stately homes, now stark reminders of former affluent and luxurious lives lying abandoned and transformed into ghostly and decaying structures reclaimed by the relentless shifting dunes of the desert.
Other artists who fell under the spell of the breath-taking Namib include Gordon Foster (1924 – 1988) as depicted in S.W.A Impression, and Fleur Ferri’s (1929 – 2004) remarkable Desert Evening near Lüderitz that is garnering much attention in anticipation of the auction.
For further information about Strauss & Co’s upcoming auction and the estimates of these works, please visit https://www.straussart.co.za/shared/auctions/087/catalogue/