Mon, 27th Mar 2017 15:00

Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 52
Lot 52 - Christo Coetzee (South Africa 1929-2000)


Christo Coetzee (South Africa 1929-2000)
Prototype: Fire Curtain

oil, enamel and collage on paper

Artwork date: 1980
Signature details: signed three times, dated and numbered '2'; signed and dated on the mount
Literature: Ballot, M. (1999). Christo Coetzee. Cape Town: Human & Rousseau, colour illustration on p.158, plate 70.

Sold for R136,416
Estimated at R60,000 - R80,000

Condition Report

Floated to the backing mount, not laid down, minor cockling, pinholes in areas, staining and paper oxidised. Not examined out of frame.

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, enamel and collage on paper

Artwork date: 1980
Signature details: signed three times, dated and numbered '2'; signed and dated on the mount
Literature: Ballot, M. (1999). Christo Coetzee. Cape Town: Human & Rousseau, colour illustration on p.158, plate 70.


39.5 x 59.5 cm


As a child, Christo Coetzee was fascinated by theatre, specifically the inner workings of theatre. According to his wife, Ferrie Binge-Coetzee (Ballot 1999:8), he built a miniature stage from wood while still at high school – fitted with a proscenium, curtains and a reproduction of a painting by an Old Master as backdrop. He was attached to his theatre, she recalls, and was devastated when he learnt that someone had borrowed it from his mother while he was abroad. He never saw this model of a theatre again.

Many decades later, in 1980, Coetzee received a commission to design a prototype for the fire curtain for the Drama theatre in the newly built State Theatre in Pretoria. The building was officially opened in 1981. Coetzee must have submitted more than one proposal since another one of his designs, Characters in Eden, was selected to adorn the Drama fire curtain.

Nevertheless, Prototype: Fire Curtain (1980) remains an intriguing work in oil on paper. In broad brushwork, Coetzee painted in black and white a mask resembling the dramatic make-up worn by actors in Japanese kabuki theatre – painted onto a brilliant red background, one of the central kabuki colours. On top of that, two Arp-like characters, one blue and the other yellow, seem to perform a dialogue amidst nuanced swathes of colour in blue, yellow and red.

Johan Myburg


Ballot, M. (1999). Christo Coetzee. Cape Town: Human & Rousseau.

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Auction: Historic, Modern & Contemporary Art, Mon, 27th Mar 2017

The Inaugural Cape Auction offed a diverse range of top-quality historic, modern and contemporary works. With a focus on critically engaged art and a curated approach, seasoned and new collectors competed to acquire significant works.

Aspire’s commitment to the growth of the art market saw international records broken in recognition of exiled South African artists. Louis Maqhubela’s Exiled King, a definitive, politically motivated work, sold for R341,040 - three times his previous record, and Albert Adams’ Untitled (Four Figures with Pitchforks), his first appearance at auction, sold for R136,416. Top prices were also achieved for established artists including J.H Pierneef, William Kentridge, and Edoardo Villa, and contemporary artwork fared exceptionally with record prices for David Brown, Steven Cohen, Mohau Modisakeng, Moshekwa Langa, and Mikhael Subotzky.


Friday 24 March 2017 | 10 am – 7 pm
Saturday 25 March 2017 | 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday 26 March 2017 | 10 am – 4 pm

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