VOLUMES: Timed Online Book Auction Highlights | Walter Battiss

Nonkululeko Sibande selects her favourite book

24/05/2022     Timed-Online Auctions, Announcements

VOLUMES is a special Timed Online sale from 19-26 May, focusing on art books and books by and about artists covering everything from rare and collectible ephemera to reference works and artist’s monographs

Aspire Art's Cataloguers and Researchers have picked their favourite books. 


In addition to being the monarch of Fook Island and a superb painter, Walter Battiss was a devoted author. His first book, Bushman Art (one of many books by and on Battiss in Lot 78), is my personal favourite. The book features 26 loose pages and 1 additional black and white plate with the title inscribed in pencil in the margin. It is fascinating and important to me because it showcases Battiss’ keen interest in South African rock art. Personally, I feel that Battiss captured the essence of South African art, in a way I don’t believe international artists did – this was something unique that Battiss worked with.

Battiss’ fascination with prehistoric rock art influenced his creative thinking, and he saw San painting as a significant art form. He was also one of South Africa's first and most famous abstract painters, influenced by Ndebele beadwork, pre-Islamic traditions, and calligraphy which is reflected in the publications in Lot 78. Battiss wrote several books, and his writings demonstrate that his understanding of European avant-garde art combined with indigenous South African traditions not only helped him develop his own unique style, but also contributes and inspires South African art today.