SA contemporary art on the rise

A healthy secondary market for SA contemporary art is developing fast & setting new records.

Vladimir Griegorovich Tretchikoff, Zulu Maiden. Picture: Strauss & Co.

JOHANNESBURG - Strauss & Co prices for high quality South African and international art soared at Strauss & Co's auction held in Cape Town this week.

The sale achieved a total of R50 million and a value sell-through rate of over 84 percent, the highest in the market.

J'accuse, which provides a brilliant dissection of the notorious Dreyfus Affair by celebrated artist Robert Hodgins, sold for R2,500,960, setting a new world record for the artist.

Robert Griffiths Hodgins, J'accuse.

Works by contemporary South African and international artists were snatched up by collectors, often driving prices above their pre-sale estimates.

The top lot of the sale, Schmerzensmann III by Belgian artist Berlinde De Bruyckere, which sold for R3, 410,400 was purchased by a private international collector.

Berlinde De Bruyckere, Schmerzensmann III.

This work has also been requested for an exhibition titled The Problem of God at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Dusseldorf later on this year.

In November last year, Strauss & Co proved a sale highlight selling William Kentridge's Head, for R1,477,840.

William Kentridge, Head.

A popular work by Ed Young of Emeritus Archbishop Tutu swinging from a chandelier sold for R852 600, almost double its pre-sale estimates.

Ed Young, Arch.

Eleven works by South African landscape artist, JH Pierneef, all sold when 22 out of 28 works sold for a world record price of R11,936,000.

JH Pierneef, Wild Pear Trees.

These include Wild Pear Trees which realised R2,046,240, followed closely by The Maluti Mountains which sold for R1,818,880.

JH Pierneef, Maluti Mountains.

Irma Stern, Robert Hodgins and Walter Battiss, amongst others, also sold exceptionally well.

Vladimir Tretichikoff's Zulu Maiden topped the local list selling for R3,183,040. Purchased in 1982 for R1,700, the present value today would be R 27,408.

The front cover of the catalogue was a rare early portrait by Wolf Kibel of his son Joseph. Produced towards the end of the artist's tragically brief life this masterpiece, sold for an astounding R2,955,680.

Other South African highlights include Alexis Preller's Mapogga Wedding which sold for R1,477,840, Maggie Laubser's Lake Garda which sold for R568,400, and Penny Siopis's Pine which sold for R659,344.

Strauss & Co spokesperson Bina Genovese said, "The auction proved that great art, well presented, will always achieve great results. Once again, the sale was topped by a broad spectrum of celebrated South African artists both modern and contemporary, thus showing a healthy deepening and broadening of the market a trend that has yet to take off in London."