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Giants of the Art World come to TAF15

Yet another exciting new initiative forms part of this year’s Turbine Art Fair (TAF15), when a small selection of works on paper from the Johannesburg Art Gallery’s astonishingly rich collection will go on show.

Johannesburg is home to a gold mine – of art. The Johannesburg Art Gallery (fondly known as JAG) owns one of the greatest collections of art in the country, a fact that is perhaps not fully appreciated, even by local Jozi-dwellers.
‘Johannesburg Art Gallery is sitting on the most fantastic collection; it’s phenomenal,’ enthuses Susie Goodman of Strauss & Co. In a bid to highlight this, Karel Nel and Joni Brenner proposed a collaboration between JAG and TAF15. The result: an initiative that will see work by some of the world’s most celebrated artists exhibited at the Turbine Art Fair in Newtown in July.
The exhibition will include art by the likes of Man Ray, Miro, and Pop legend Roy Lichtenstein; a lithograph by Salvador Dali; a postcard collage, dated 1981, by art duo Gilbert and George; and a number of works by Richard Hamilton, among others, all of which were selected by Antoinette Murdoch of JAG. Look out for a work by Lucien Freud, says Goodman – ‘it’s beautiful, a really lovely etching. It’s a privilege to see his work.’
Also included is a reproduction of Picasso’s Tete d’Arlequin II (Head of a Harlequin II) (the original is currently showing in Venice). This provoked something of an outcry when it was purchased back in 1974, a year after the artist’s death. ‘Why should we, the public, be forced to have this odious original Picasso in our art gallery,’ wrote one outraged member of the public. ‘Anything more hideous, outrageous and vulgar would be hard to imagine.’ The purchase also prompted an annoyed local figure to commission a large sculpture for a similar amount of money. Today the value of the Picasso far exceeds that of the commissioned work. Stephan Welz and Nel
Erasmus, who were involved in the purchase of the original, will use this point as a springboard for discussion around buying art (July 7, at the Strauss & Co offices in Houghton), in particular the importance of buying quality work by an artist with a good name.
The exhibition serves another purpose, in that it focuses on works on paper, created using techniques ranging from etching to lithography and beyond. ‘It’s part of a process of educating people about the wonder of works on paper, and buying them – particularly young collectors,’ says Goodman. ‘The works on exhibition are not the million dollar paintings that are sold by Christies in New York; but for a new collector going to the Turbine Art Fair, who is going to look at lots of work on paper that weekend, it’s a fantastic opportunity to see work by international names… Works on paper are a great way to start collecting.’
The exhibition also goes some way to educating the public as to the difference between a lithograph, a colour screenprint, an etching, and so on. ‘There’s lots of terminology that would help people that are wanting to start buying art understand the methodology behind works on paper, which I think is a very important part of buying such works – you want to know what you’re buying’, says Goodman.

JAG will also serve as a highlight on a bus tour that will take TAF15 visitors to a number of leading Johannesburg galleries, including the Standard Bank Gallery, where
Pierneef: A Space for Landscape will be on show; and the Wits Art Museum, where Penny Siopis’ work will be on exhibition. ‘It’s a nice addition to the weekend at the Turbine, having the opportunity to learn a bit more about the art world. Go and see Pierneef, go and see Penny Siopis – two important South African artists – and then to go to JAG,’ says Goodman.

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