New Yorkers to be exposed to SA art

SABC | Sherwin Bryce-Pease:


New Yorkers have been treated to some of the biggest names in South African fine art at a preview of an auction of the works in London next month.

Auction house Bonhams, which specialises in fine art and antiques, will host the event showcasing some of the country’s most significant artists, many famous for having achieved record prices in recent years.

Alexis Preller’s painting ‘The Fishermen of Beau Vallon’ will be on sale at Bonhams’ South African art sale in London.(Bonhams website)

Bohmans has flown over a number of the most significant works for preview in New York, the likes of Irma Stern who is widely regarded as the most expensive South African artist in monetary terms, in addition the likes of Gerard Sekoto, William Kentridge and Lucas Sithole among others, a collection of works expected to fetch in excess of R100 million.

Heads the South African Art Department at Bonhams, Hanna O’Leary says: “Bonhams has been holding South African sales for about five years now. We have seen the market go from strength to strength to the point where we’re now the market leaders. It’s very exciting, there’s a lot of money turning hands but also some beautiful artworks turning up.”

Irma Stern’s 1929 Swazi Youth is expected to fetch up to R9 million or a tapestry by Authur Goldreich, woven for former president Nelson Mandela while he was still on Robben Island, will also fetch a high price.

Gerard Sekoto’s painting titled ‘The Family on the Road’ could reach close to R1 million.

We’re seeing more and more people bidding online

O’Leary says she believes he’s probably South Africa’s most important artist. “That’s my own personal opinion, but I can’t think of another artist who struggled so much and did so much for modern art in South Africa, he was painting in the 30s and 40s as a black man, he was painting on anything he could get his hands on brown paper… a lot of the time.”

Brand South Africa’s Country Manager Simon Barber, who hosted the event, says: “We’re very excited as Brand South Africa to be able to show off this wonderful South Africa art top a larger audience.”

Barber says: “We think it’s typical of the great creativity of our country, so we welcomed this opportunity when Bonhams came to us ‘will you help us show this in New York in preparation for the big sale they’re having in London next month’. It also gave us an opportunity which we think is very important for Brand South Africa to bring together the South African community from around New York.”

The auction of the 102 lots or works will be held on March 19. O’leary says: “We exhibit the works here in New York. We exhibit the whole sale in London so they’re on exhibit as few days before the auction. People come and see them, other people will just see them online or the paper catalogue, and we take registrations.”

She adds: “You can bid in person, you can come along and as you see on TV you hold up a paddle, other people will bid on the telephone or internet bidding. We’re seeing more and more people bidding online,  sounds like it’s going to be an expensive day… I think most people will have a limit in their minds but I hope so.”


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