Auction Highlight: Villa

Auction Highlight: Villa

Study for Confrontation by Edoardo Villa

01/08/2022     Live Auctions, Insights


Aspire Art is honoured to reveal Study for Confrontation, an important conceptual work by Edoardo Villa, one of the country’s most celebrated modern sculptors.
This historically significant sculpture will be offered at Aspire’s upcoming live auction in Cape Town in September 2022, alongside key 20th century and contemporary artworks from Southern Africa.


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 considered to be one of Edoardo Villa’s most ambitious and important works and forms part of the Rand Merchant Bank collection. 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.



LEFT |  Edoardo Villa with Study for Confrontation at Villa House in Kew, Johannesburg, 1989

RIGHT |  Edoardo Villa & Lucas Legodi alongside Confrontation at Villa House in Kew, Johannesburg before it was moved, 1978


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 pre-fabricated steel components. Like the figures in Confrontation, the precisely cut beams and pipes are assembled in such a way to overlap and intersect, balancing upwards—straight line up against straight line, culminating in a powerful sculpture of commanding presence.

Estimated at R 1 800 000 – 2 200 000, Study for Confrontation is considered a pivotal work within Villa’s oeuvre and is expected to attract interest among serious collectors. 

For more information on the work, or to arrange a private viewing in Johannesburg, contact Aspire Managing Director and Senior Art Specialist Ruarc Peffers: +27 10 109 7989 /