Sun, 25th Mar 2018 18:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 130
Lot 130 - Sydney Kumalo (South African 1935-1988)


Sydney Kumalo (South African 1935-1988)
Man on Bull

bronze on a wooden base

Signature details: numbered 9/9, stamped with the artist's name and 'Posthumous Cast 2013 FRV'

Sold for R409,248
Estimated at R350,000 - R500,000

Condition Report

Patina worn in areas, otherwise good.

Please note, we are not qualified conservators and these reports give our opinion as to the general condition of the works. We advise that bidders view the lots in person to satisfy themselves with the condition of prospective purchases.


bronze on a wooden base

Signature details: numbered 9/9, stamped with the artist's name and 'Posthumous Cast 2013 FRV'


46 x 42 x 36.5 cm including base

Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.


Sydney Kumalo’s Man on Bull is a bronze sculpture by one of the leading creatives to emerge from the seminal Polly Street Art Centre. He enrolled at the historic art school in 1953.The sculpture uses a recurrent motif and trope in the late artist’s work. There is a stone sculture of the same name dated 1977, and works like Mythological Rider (1970), which recently fetched a world record price for the artist at Aspire’s November 2017 auction in Johannesburg, are variations on the theme.The force of Kumalo’s work derives in part from his mix of old and new cultures in Southern African life. Growing up in the vibrant urban experience of Sophiatown, Johannesburg, and thanks to the forced removal which demolished the area, his family moved to Diepkloof in Soweto. Kumalo was raised with a deep awareness and pride in his family’s Zulu traditions. This all means Kumalo could draw on multiple cultural pools to enrich his art.This convergence of the value systems of various worlds explains the tendency of Kumalo and his generation of African artists to negotiate the values and strictures of their African heritage against the possibilities of their modern realities. This is an imperative felt even by South African artists of European descent like Cecil Skotnes, who was working at Polly Street Art Centre too.In this piece, Kumalo’s choice to depict a figure and bull registers notions of the centrality of the bovine in the African sense of identity and ideas of providence; what American anthropologist Melville Herskovits calls the African Cattle complex. Kumalo’s man and bull are morphed into one anthropomorphic form through the trick of abstraction – a modernist visual language. It is almost impossible to see where the man begins, and where the bull begins. Abstraction allows Kumalo to turn his image into a shorthand for a complex economy of intercultural meaning.

Percy Mabandu

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Auction: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, Sun, 25th Mar 2018

Aspire Art Auctions brought a unique offering to their second auction in the Cape allowing buyers to add quality and rarity to their collections.

Headlining the success of the auction was as a rare intaglio by Alexis Preller, Gold Angel (Arêté), which sold for R4 638 400. The piece was part of Preller’s last body of work shown at the Goodman Gallery in 1975, and took its place alongside the sale of his mid-period work, the exquisite small study Still life with Vase and Carved Head, which sold for R811 720. Other auction highlights included work by contemporary artists Robert Hodgins, Athi-Patra Ruga, Zander Blom, and Penny Siopis and sculpture by Deborah Bell, Willem Boshoff, Wim Botha, and Amadlozi alumnus Sydney Kumalo.


Friday 23 March 2018 | 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday 24 March 2018 | 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday 25 March 2018 | 10 am – 3 pm

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