3rd Mar, 2019 12:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 41
Lot 41 - Cecil Skotnes (South Africa 1926-2009)


Cecil Skotnes (South Africa 1926-2009)

carved, incised and painted wood panel

Artwork date: 1983
Signature details: signed and dated; inscribed with the artist's name, the date and the title on a South African National Gallery label adhered to the reverse

Sold for R1,138,000
Estimated at R500,000 - R800,000


carved, incised and painted wood panel

Artwork date: 1983
Signature details: signed and dated; inscribed with the artist's name, the date and the title on a South African National Gallery label adhered to the reverse


122.5 x 90 cm


This iconic Head was proudly displayed in the Cape Town house of Cecil and Thelma Skotnes after their move there in 1979. It remained in their estate until passed on to a descendant and has thus never been to market.John Skotnes has fond memories of this work as it “graced the family living room and was witness to the wholeness of my parents’ family life” including “the friends, family, artists, stars, musicians, dancers and people from so many different walks of life, who constantly came to the home”. Reflecting on his extraordinary father, John explains, “he never romanticised his work but he celebrated the making of a ‘big one’, like this panel, A totemic head such as this that so powerfully evokes Africa with its strong forms and earthy colours, also serves as a mindscape mapping moods and experiences. As Neville Dubow, friend of the artist and former Director of the Michaelis School of Fine Art, has remarked in the Cecil Skotnes retrospective catalogue, “The key here is the concept of landscape in its broadest sense, of the landscapes of the mind, of an artist’s mindscape, and above all, of the link between landscape and memory”

Emma Bedford


[i] Personal correspondence with the author, Monday 14 January 2019.

[ii] Dubow, N. (1996). “Landscapes of the Mind”. In Harmsen, F. (ed.), Cecil Skotnes. Cape Town: South African Breweries, p. 121.

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Auction: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, 3rd Mar, 2019

Aspire Art Auctions set a new bar for the market in its Autumn 19 Auction in Cape Town, with a South African auction record for its cover lot.

An early work, by international star Marlene Dumas, Love Lost (1973/4) achieved R7 283 200, more than doubling its pre-sale estimate of R3 000 000. Further successful sales included a range of paintings by Alexis Preller from across his career, and new world records for work by Jane Alexander, Simphiwe Ndzube, and Moshekwa Langa. These results further establish Aspire’s growing reputation as the discerning auction house for handling contemporary South African art.  

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