Wed, 14th Sep 2022 18:00

20th Century & Contemporary Art

  Lot 48
Lot 48 - Edoardo Villa (South Africa 1915-2011)


Edoardo Villa (South Africa 1915-2011)
Study for Confrontation

painted steel

Artwork date: 1975-77
Literature: Nel, Karel. (2005). Villa at 90. Johannesburg: Shelf Publishing, illustrated on p.10.

Sold for R2,048,400
Estimated at R1,800,000 - R2,500,000

Condition Report

The overall condition is good.

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: 1975-77
Literature: Nel, Karel. (2005). Villa at 90. Johannesburg: Shelf Publishing, illustrated on p.10.


218 x 47 x 41 cm including base


Private collection, Johannesburg.


A central figure of the Amadlozi group, with artists Cecil Skotnes, Sydney Kumalo and Ezrom Legae during the 1960s and 1970s, Edoardo Villa throughout his life and career had a deep emotional commitment to Africa, its people, cultures, artforms and stories. In his work, he was a technical and creative innovator. In his personal and social life, he was politically progressive.

According to artist and historian Karel Nel, Villa’s anti-establishment role is seldom understood. Working from his home studio without institutional support, Villa formulated a practice that synthetized his European heritage with African stylistic influences. Along with his pioneering mentorship activities, he further challenged the narrative of separate development.

The monumental work Confrontation is one of Edoardo Villa’s most ambitious and important works and forms part of the Rand Merchant Bank collection in Johannesburg. Created in 1978, following the youth uprisings that took place in Soweto just two years prior, it is seen as the artist’s personal response to the socio-political turmoil in South Africa at the time. Over 7 metres wide, the raw steel construction consists of two opposing groups of seven vertical figures, each approximately 4 metres in height. The sculpture is remarkable not only for its powerful subject, but it stands as a triumph of sculptural engineering.

The sculpture Study for Confrontation is a precursor to the concept behind Confrontation’s enormous composition of grouped figures. Produced between 1975–77, this singular vertical structure is assembled in the shape of a column to evoke a figure-like form. Just more than 2 metres high, it is a remarkable and visually striking work, stylistically reminiscent of Analytical Cubist sculpture, where the notion of a human figure is abstracted into a tightly assembled cluster of simple geometric planes. Here, Villa explored the formal possibilities inherent in various prefabricated steel components. Like the figures in Confrontation, the precisely cut beams and pipes are assembled to overlap and intersect, balancing upwards – straight line up against straight line, culminating in a powerful sculpture of commanding presence.

Study for Confrontation is historically and conceptually significant and a pivotal work within Edoardo Villa’s oeuvre.

Marelize van Zyl


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.; University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town.

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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.


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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