Thu, 3rd Sep 2020 20:00

Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 160
Lot 160 - Robert Hodgins (South Africa 1920–2010)


Robert Hodgins (South Africa 1920–2010)
A Suit of Flames and a Brooks Bros' Shirt

oil on canvas

Signature details: signed, dated and inscribed with the title on the reverse

Sold for R1,081,100
Estimated at R600,000 - R900,000

Condition Report

The condition is good. Paint is vibrant and stable.

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.


oil on canvas

Signature details: signed, dated and inscribed with the title on the reverse


121 x 91 cm


Critical commentary on the corporate world runs through many of Robert Hodgins’ best works with titles like Within the Halls of Power (1995/6) and Financial Haemophilia (1999) alerting us to the battles fought around boardroom tables. The artist himself appears in a pin-striped suit in Memo, the animated film made in collaboration with artists William Kentridge and Deborah Bell in 1993/4.His love affair with the sartorial splendour of the business suit, on the other hand, is equally evident in a painting such as If you’ve got it, flash it! (1999). The erotic attraction of the sexy suit need hardly be laboured. We are inundated with advertising that offers everything dressed up in a suit with its overtones of success, glamour and power. It is this that mail-order merchandisers like Brooks Brothers play on with their shirts entitled Milano, Madison, Regent and Soho.In A Suit of Flames and a Brooks Bros’ Shirt we’re on the edge of our seats wondering whether this businessman in a cool shirt and a suit that is too hot to handle, will win the day. Is he facing a mega meltdown or a bright new dawn? The artist employs his legendary wit to suggest that more than a suit may be required to quell these fires.Hodgins’ magnificent Night of the Awards (1997/8), starring three men in suits, sold at Aspire Art Auctions for R2,046,240 in March 2018 and his Tenth Circle (1994/5), featuring a cool suit in a hot situation, achieved R853,500 in September 2018.

Emma Bedford

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Auction: Modern & Contemporary Art, Thu, 3rd Sep 2020

This Spring, Aspire Art Auctions broke new ground with a fresh, yet considered selection of artworks that is demographically more representative and reflects the spirit of current times. With a strong focus on South Africa, the sale also proudly represented artists from 10 African countries (Benin, DRC, Ghana, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sudan, Togo, Uganda and Zimbabwe) and international artists from Europe, the UK and USA. 

A great highlight was Edoardo Villa’s monumental steel sculpture titled Traverse from 1957 which achieved R4,893,400 – an auction record for the artist. Other exceptional offerings included works by Gerard Sekoto, George Pemba, Peter Clarke and Nicholas Hlobo.

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