Wed, 14th Sep 2022 18:00

20th Century & Contemporary Art

 
  Lot 45
 
Lot 45 - Cecil Skotnes (South Africa 1926-2009)

45

Cecil Skotnes (South Africa 1926-2009)
Figure Composition

carved, incised and painted wood panel

Artwork date: 1974
Signature details: signed bottom right
Exhibited: ‘Cecil Skotnes Retrospective’, 16 September 1996 – 30 June 1998; South African National Gallery, Cape Town; William Humphries Art Gallery, Kimberley; University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg; Pretoria Art Museum; Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg; Durban Art Museum; Oliewenhuis Art Gallery, Bloemfontein; King George VI Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth.
Literature: Dubow, N., Godby, M., Hamsen, F., Rankin, E. and Skotnes, P. (1996). Cecil Skotnes. Pretoria: South African National Gallery, illustrated in colour on p.195.

Sold for R455,200
Estimated at R400,000 - R600,000


Condition Report

The condition is excellent.

The colours are stable.

Minor paint loss in areas consistent with age.

Feint dent on bottom right.

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.

 

carved, incised and painted wood panel

Artwork date: 1974
Signature details: signed bottom right
Exhibited: ‘Cecil Skotnes Retrospective’, 16 September 1996 – 30 June 1998; South African National Gallery, Cape Town; William Humphries Art Gallery, Kimberley; University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg; Pretoria Art Museum; Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg; Durban Art Museum; Oliewenhuis Art Gallery, Bloemfontein; King George VI Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth.
Literature: Dubow, N., Godby, M., Hamsen, F., Rankin, E. and Skotnes, P. (1996). Cecil Skotnes. Pretoria: South African National Gallery, illustrated in colour on p.195.

(1)

122 x 90 x 2 cm

Provenance:

Private collection, Cape Town.

Notes:

Accompanied by the original retrospective exhibition loan agreement documents from the South African National Gallery and covering letters signed by Joe Dolby, then Assistant Director.

Cecil Skotnes was not only one of South Africa’s most outstanding artists but one of its most remarkable citizens. His experiences during the second world war had “initiated a life-long quest for the universal and metaphysical common denominator of humankind’s existence”.[1]

Skotnes was undoubtedly impacted and influenced by fellow artists he met as a teacher and mentor between 1952 and 1965 at the Polly Street Art Centre, “the launching-pad for the first large-scale venture of urban black South Africans into the plastic arts”.[2] His empathy for humanity and his determination to make the world a better place for all, are evidenced not only in his commitment to initiatives like Polly Street, but in the courtesy and care he brought to his everyday dealings with those around him.

In the late 1960s, Skotnes received several significant commissions. The first, consisting of eight panels, each 150 cm high and extending almost fourteen meters, was completed in 1966 for Barclays Bank in Commissioner Street, Johannesburg, and the second, consisting of five panels measuring in total 260 by 610 cm, was completed in 1969 for the Standard Bank Head Office in Johannesburg. Both were titled The People. A third mural, The Citizens, commissioned for the Hyde Park Shopping Centre in the same year measured 2,5 by 35 meters. Created following the incarceration of Nelson Mandela in 1964, when millions of South Africans were subjected to increasingly draconian apartheid laws, racial discrimination and forced removals, the titles of these commissions provide insights into the artist’s thinking and concerns. They are not merely people-oriented, but human-centered works that provide insights into Skotnes’ compassion for his fellow South Africans and his philosophy of life. “Confrontation between good and evil is a major theme”, as Frieda Harmsen pointed out.[3]

Figure Composition follows in 1970. A group of three figures stand upright and proud, facing forward. Together, with their arms intertwined in an embrace, they epitomise the Zulu phrase ‘umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’, meaning that a person is a person through other people. With its roots in the humanist African philosophy, where the idea of community is one of the building blocks of society, the ubuntu concept of a common humanity and a sense of oneness between peoples is one that would no doubt have been central to the artist’s beliefs and principles.Emma Bedford

[1] Harmsen, F. ‘Artist Resolute’ in Harmsen, F. (1996). Cecil Skotnes. The South African Breweries, p.18.

[2] Rankin, E. ‘Teaching and Learning: Skotnes at Polly Street’ in Harmsen, F. (1996). Cecil Skotnes. The South African Breweries, p.65.

[3] Harmsen, F. ‘Artist Resolute’ in Harmsen, F. (1996). Cecil Skotnes. The South African Breweries, p.18.

Collections:

The artist is represented in numerous local and international collections, notably, Norval Foundation, Cape Town.; Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town.; The South African Reserve Bank, Johannesburg.; Anglo American Corporation, New York and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Copenhagen.

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Auction: 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Wed, 14th Sep 2022

 

Aspire Art will impress collectors with this focused, boutique-style auction. Including 81 carefully selected lots the sale boasts impressive examples by many of South Africa’s most celebrated artists. A fine selection of William Kentridge works, including two original drawings, Eduardo Villa sculptures, painting by Robert Hodgins and Walter Battiss and a wonderful early Penny Siopis drawing are on offer.

Also featured are two special sections – Black Modernism and Photography. Aspire has firmly cemented itself as a champion of both these collecting segments and collectors will be spoilt for choice with a rare drawing by Dumile Feni as well as works by other modernists including Gerard Sekoto, George Pemba and Lucas Sithole and photographs by David Goldblatt, Mohau Modisakeng and Simphiwe Ndzube amongst others.

Viewing

The exhibition preview is open to the public.

Viewing is from Friday 9 to Wednesday 14 September.

Weekdays from 09h30 to 16h30, Saturdays from 09h30 to 14h00, and Sundays by appointment.

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IMPORTANT NOTICE:


 

Logistics

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Small (≤60x90x10 cm): R400

Medium (≤90x120x15 cm): R800

Large (≤120x150x20 cm): R1,200

Over-size: Special quote

 

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