Tue, 30th Nov 2021 18:00

Modern & Contemporary Art | Johannesburg

 
  Lot 17
 
Lot 17 - Edoardo Villa (South Africa 1915-2011)

17

Edoardo Villa (South Africa 1915-2011)
Three Personages

painted steel

Artwork date: 1976
Signature details: signed and dated

(Qty: 1)

306 x 201 x 105 cm

Provenance:

Private collection, Johannesburg.

Acquired from the artist, circa 1989.

Notes:

Three Personages was produced by Edoardo Villa in 1976, an auspicious year in which the youth of South Africa made history. Breaking with the conventions of the past, striking out in new directions and heralding what was to come, those who could see the way, took destiny into their own hands and boldly shaped the future.

Born in an Italian village outside Bergamo in northern Italy, Villa studied under the sculpture masters at the local art school and completed a number of public commissions for reliefs in his hometown. When called up for military service, he requested being stationed in Rome, where he could view the numerous public sculptures on display throughout the city.[1] Wounded in North Africa, Villa was captured and hospitalised in Egypt before being sent to South Africa as a prisoner-of-war where, with 70,000 Italians, he was held at the Zonderwater camp in the Transvaal from 1942. During this internment, he produced some of his most emotional work, informed by reflections on confronting death, and his experiences of being wounded and imprisoned.

Villa’s growing confidence as a sculptor and the new materials enabled by rapid industrialisation allowed him to break with the conventions of the past and to strike out in new directions. In 1964 Lucas Legodi became Villa’s assistant, and their collaboration soon became of inestimable value to the artist. By 1970 his career was well-established and recognised with a ground-breaking solo exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum featuring 70 steel sculptures.

1976 represented a decisive turning point in South African history, calling for a new vision. Villa’s Black Group for example, produced in that year, with its steel pipes cut into sections, tilted and re-arranged, is extraordinarily prescient in its evocation of the times, both in terms of its title and of its composition of black forms in action.

His unique vision and understanding of new materials enabled Villa to produce impressive sculptures of great power that retain their abstract form while communicating “a nervy, edgy destabilisation” due to “the extraordinary tensile strength of steel, Villa’s deeply ingrained understanding of the engineering principles involved in the construction process, and his and Legodi’s consummate ability to weld.”[2]

Three Personages is an exceptional and monumental work from the period, and one of his largest and most-impressive steel sculptures ever to come to the market. It demonstrates Villa’s genius in conjuring from base metal an evocation of three friends, each engaged in their own distinct effort yet, together, joined in a collaborative action that embodies and magnifies the strength of the group.

[1] Von Maltitz, A. and Nel, K. ‘Edoardo Villa: A Life Considered’ in Berman, E., Crump, A., Meneghelli, V., Nel, K., Sack, M., Skawran, K. and Von Maltitz, A. (2005). Villa at 90: His Life, Works, and Influence. Johannesburg and Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers with Johannesburg: Shelf Publishing, p.26.

[2] Ibid. p.70.

Estimated at R1,200,000 - R1,500,000


Condition report

The condition is mint.

Recently repainted.

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.

 

painted steel

Artwork date: 1976
Signature details: signed and dated

(Qty: 1)

306 x 201 x 105 cm

Provenance:

Private collection, Johannesburg.

Acquired from the artist, circa 1989.

Notes:

Three Personages was produced by Edoardo Villa in 1976, an auspicious year in which the youth of South Africa made history. Breaking with the conventions of the past, striking out in new directions and heralding what was to come, those who could see the way, took destiny into their own hands and boldly shaped the future.

Born in an Italian village outside Bergamo in northern Italy, Villa studied under the sculpture masters at the local art school and completed a number of public commissions for reliefs in his hometown. When called up for military service, he requested being stationed in Rome, where he could view the numerous public sculptures on display throughout the city.[1] Wounded in North Africa, Villa was captured and hospitalised in Egypt before being sent to South Africa as a prisoner-of-war where, with 70,000 Italians, he was held at the Zonderwater camp in the Transvaal from 1942. During this internment, he produced some of his most emotional work, informed by reflections on confronting death, and his experiences of being wounded and imprisoned.

Villa’s growing confidence as a sculptor and the new materials enabled by rapid industrialisation allowed him to break with the conventions of the past and to strike out in new directions. In 1964 Lucas Legodi became Villa’s assistant, and their collaboration soon became of inestimable value to the artist. By 1970 his career was well-established and recognised with a ground-breaking solo exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum featuring 70 steel sculptures.

1976 represented a decisive turning point in South African history, calling for a new vision. Villa’s Black Group for example, produced in that year, with its steel pipes cut into sections, tilted and re-arranged, is extraordinarily prescient in its evocation of the times, both in terms of its title and of its composition of black forms in action.

His unique vision and understanding of new materials enabled Villa to produce impressive sculptures of great power that retain their abstract form while communicating “a nervy, edgy destabilisation” due to “the extraordinary tensile strength of steel, Villa’s deeply ingrained understanding of the engineering principles involved in the construction process, and his and Legodi’s consummate ability to weld.”[2]

Three Personages is an exceptional and monumental work from the period, and one of his largest and most-impressive steel sculptures ever to come to the market. It demonstrates Villa’s genius in conjuring from base metal an evocation of three friends, each engaged in their own distinct effort yet, together, joined in a collaborative action that embodies and magnifies the strength of the group.

[1] Von Maltitz, A. and Nel, K. ‘Edoardo Villa: A Life Considered’ in Berman, E., Crump, A., Meneghelli, V., Nel, K., Sack, M., Skawran, K. and Von Maltitz, A. (2005). Villa at 90: His Life, Works, and Influence. Johannesburg and Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers with Johannesburg: Shelf Publishing, p.26.

[2] Ibid. p.70.

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Auction: Modern & Contemporary Art | Johannesburg, Tue, 30th Nov 2021

 

A focused collection of top historical, modern and contemporary artworks, this boutique-style sale presents impressive examples of South Africa’s best-known artists at auction. Included is a wonderful oil on canvas still-life by Irma Stern painted in 1936, an exquisite equestrian painting by Tretchikoff, 4 early watercolours by George Pemba, a monumental Villa from 1976 and 6 superb lots by William Kentridge. Also on offer are impressive contemporary works by Kate Gottgens, Phillemon Hlungwani, Wim Botha and Banele Khoza, amongst others.

Notably, the sale also includes works from the collection of the world-renowned Handspring Puppet Company. This collection maps much of the company’s creative, personal and professional journey and includes works by Kentridge, Pemba, Simon Stone and Zanele Muholi, amongst others.

The Live Auction is the first to be held at Aspire’s new premises in Johannesburg, located in the heart of the city’s art district, in Bolton Road, Parkwood.

Viewing

Viewing will be open from Wednesday 24 to Tuesday 30 November from 9 am to 5 pm.

Address: 32 Bolton Road, Parkwood, Johannesburg, 2193

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