4th Mar, 2021 19:00

Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 74
Lot 74 - Gerard Sekoto (South Africa 1913-1993)


Gerard Sekoto (South Africa 1913-1993)

watercolour and pencil on paper

Signature details: signed bottom left
Literature: Lindop, B. (1988). Gerard Sekoto. Johannesburg: Dictum Publishing, illustrated in colour on p.85.

Sold for R273,810
Estimated at R150,000 - R250,000


watercolour and pencil on paper

Signature details: signed bottom left
Literature: Lindop, B. (1988). Gerard Sekoto. Johannesburg: Dictum Publishing, illustrated in colour on p.85.


23.5 x 34 cm; Framed size: 60 x 71 x 2 cm

The Silberberg Collection, Johannesburg.


The Silberberg collection of paintings of Johannesburg was first exhibited in 1956 to mark the 70th anniversary of the City of Gold. This unique collection of rare early paintings and Africana was developed by Johannesburg art and antique dealer, Dr H. K. Silberberg, and gifted to his son, Roger, to mark his birth in that city. As a youngster, the 11-year-old schoolboy was clearly delighted when Councillor H. Miller, ex-Mayor of Johannesburg, agreed to open the exhibition. Highlights from the collection include a rare early watercolour of Sophiatown by Gerard Sekoto, two oil paintings by Pieter Wenning, William Timlin’s exquisite vision of the old Colosseum Theatre by night and a rare early painting by German-born, Hanns Ludwig Katz who, after an early stint in the atelier of Henri Matisse, emigrated to South Africa in 1936. These are amongst many paintings, drawings and etchings that bring the city of Johannesburg, and the surrounding mineral-rich hills of the Witwatersrand, vividly to life, providing insights into its history and development as the megalopolis of commerce and culture that it is today. This rare, early watercolour provides unique insights into Gerard Sekoto’s vision of Sophiatown. By 1938 Sekoto had left rural Botshabelo and settled in thriving Sophiatown, the legendary black cultural hub of Johannesburg, made famous in literature and music by the likes of Miriam Makeba, the so-called African songbird. By the 1950s, Sophiatown was no more—homes had been torn down and communities dispersed. It is this place and this time that Sekoto brings to life in his early paintings of Sophiatown. With bright gem-like colours, the artist captures the spirit of the place evoking the lives lived there. Barbara Lindop, renowned author of several Sekoto books and friend of the artist, describes the ‘humanity of his pre-exile paintings: his lack of sentimentality, his commitment to truth, a poignant realism and an acute awareness of the heroism revealed in ordinary human life’.1

Emma Bedford

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Auction: Modern & Contemporary Art, 4th Mar, 2021

Aspire Art Auctions’ Cape Town sale proved that the market for African and international art continues to thrive despite the pandemic.

The top lot by value was Irma Stern’s Dahlias and fruit, one of the most outstanding paintings from her late period, which achieved an impressive R5,234,800. Marlene Dumas scored a sensational hit when her early painting, Score, sold for R3,414,000, and stellar results were also achieved for celebrated artists; William Kentridge, George Pemba, Gerard Sekoto and Peter Clarke, amongst others, with world records at auction set for contemporary artists Turiya Magadlela and Gerhard Marx.

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