20/09/2022 General News, Live Auctions, Announcements
Dumile Feni, Mother and Baby, 1969 | Sold for ZAR 967 300
Aspire Art is pleased to have opened the Spring season auction calendar with their recent live sale – 20th Century & Contemporary Art – in Cape Town on Wednesday, 14 September. The sale featured a focussed collection of specially selected top-calibre works, highlighting their approach to smaller, curated collections, centered on quality over quantity, to serve the discerning collector.
The auction presented a special focus on Black Modernist art and saw 90% of lots sold. The cover lot, an impressive large-scale 1969 drawing by Dumile Feni titled Mother and Baby sold for R967,300 – the second highest price world-wide for a work on paper. The current world auction record is also held by Aspire for Children Under Apartheid, which sold in 2017 for R1,250,480.
After competitive bidding in the room and on the phones, George Pemba’s captivating Pennies from Heaven sold for R591,760, well over the high estimate. Gerard Sekoto’s Casamance Dancers and Policeman (1966) achieved R341,400, followed by Lucas Sithole’s wooden African Mask selling at R250,000.
George Pemba, Pennies from Heaven, 1986 | Sold for ZAR 591 760
Gerard Sekoto, Casamance Dancers and Policeman, 1966 | Sold for ZAR 341 400
A special offering was an emotional painting by the prodigiously talented Julian Motau, who tragically died in 1968 at the age of 20. Paintings by the artist are very scarce and rarely come to auction. Prisoner (1966) sold for an impressive R216,220 – a record for a painting by the artist and the second highest price world-wide. The current world auction record is also held by Aspire for a charcoal drawing, Apartheid Slave Wagon, which achieved R227,600 in 2019.
Julian Motau, Prisoner, 1966 | Sold for ZAR 216 220
The top lot by value was Edoardo Villa’s steel sculpture Study for Confrontation which sold for R2,048,400. Produced between 1975-77, this work was a precursor to the artist’s monumental sculpture Confrontation (1978) which is currently part of the Rand Merchant Bank collection in Johannesburg. Study for Confrontation was known to be Villa’s favourite sculpture which had pride of place in his house in Kew, Johannesburg, for years.
Three views | Edoardo Villa, Study for Confrontation, 1975-77 | Sold for ZAR 2 048 400
William Kentridge’s mixed media Drawing from 'Preparing the Flute' achieved R1,593,200. This impressive view of a stage provided Kentridge with an arena in which to think through Mozart’s The Magic Flute, the first large-scale opera he directed on commission from the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels. To date, Aspire remains the top South African seller of works by William Kentridge on the secondary market and currently holds the top two auction records in South Africa.
William Kentridge, Drawing from 'Preparing the Flute', 2004-5 | Sold for ZAR 1 593 200
Works by South African art historical favourites also performed well. Impressive incised wood panels by Cecil Skotnes Figure Composition (1974) and Two Figures sold for R455,200 and R409,680 respectively.
LEFT | Cecil Skotnes, Figure Composition, 1974 | Sold for ZAR 455 200
RIGHT | Fred Page, Tomorrow Belongs to Us, 1973 | Sold for ZAR 170 700
The exuberant painting Last Supper / African Wall by Walter Battiss achieved R273,120 and Fred Page’s surreal Tomorrow Belongs to Us (1973) realised R170,700.
Walter Battiss, Last Supper / African Wall, 1973 | Sold for ZAR 273 120
Contemporary art was robust with an early work by Penny Siopis from 1998 selling at R307,260 and Willem Boshoff’s granite Prison Hacks achieving R250,360.
LEFT | Penny Siopis, Untitled, 1998 | Sold for ZAR 307 260
RIGHT | Willem Boshoff, Prison Hacks (Mandela Panel), 2003 | Sold for ZAR 250 360
The large-scale expressive painting Untouchable (Politician) by superstar Blessing Ngobeni sold for R295,880. While works by Nelson Makamo continue to be firm favourites amongst local and international collectors. A large portrait drawing in charcoal sold for R216,220, and another drawing titled Mother and child realised an impressive R250,360.
Blessing Ngobeni, Untouchable (Politician), 2015 | Sold for ZAR 295 880
LEFT | Nelson Makamo, Mother and child, 2017 | Sold for ZAR 250 360
RIGHT | Nelson Makamo, Portrait, 2017 | Sold for ZAR 216 220
The impact of Aspire's continued focus on the excellence and incredible value inherent in South African photography was demonstrated.
Following Mary Sibande’s recent acclaimed solo exhibition The Red Ventriloquist at MacLyon – Musée d’art Contemporain de Lyon in France, the artist’s photograph Caught in the Rapture (2002) created much excitement when it sold for R341,400, well above the pre-auction high estimate and matching the current world auction record also held by Aspire.
Thulani 1, Paris, a portrait by visual activist Zanele Muholi from the renowned Somnyama Ngonyama series achieved R204,840.
LEFT | Zanele Muholi, Thulani I, Paris, 'Somnyama Ngonyama' series, 2014 | Sold for ZAR 204 840
RIGHT | Mary Sibande, Caught in the Rapture, 2009 | Sold for ZAR 341 400
Demand for very rare and collectible photographs remains strong. Two hand-printed silver gelatin prints by lauded photographer David Goldblatt sold for a combined R225,180, while the celebrated Ivorian photographer Paul Kodjo’s photograph from his Soirée Dansante, Abidjan, 1970 series sold for R113,800. This is the first time that a work by Kodjo has sold in South Africa.
LEFT | David Goldblatt, A house-painter at home, Pretoria Street, Hillbrow, January 1973, 1981 | Sold for ZAR 125 180
RIGHT | Paul Kodjo, Untitled (from the Soirée Dansante, Abidjan, 1970 series), 2019 | Sold for ZAR 113 800
Aspire would like to thank all their clients who entrusted them with handling their artworks and all the bidders who participated in the auction.
Diarise their next live auction taking place in Johannesburg on 30 November 2022. Currently inviting consignments.
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