Strauss & Co is once again cementing its reputation as South Africa’s leading Fine Art auction house with the announcement of its first themed online sale, Abstract South African Art.
Opening for bids at 8:00 on Wednesday June 6, this ground-breaking sale has more than 130 lots on offer, providing collectors with an opportunity to start, or add to, their abstract South African art collections.
Abstraction was one of the dominant avant-garde artistic movements in South Africa in the post-war years. The Overseas Exhibition of South African Art at London’s Tate Gallery in 1948 is regarded by art historians as the start of this development, which reached a peak with the 1979 State of the Art in South Africa conference at the University of Cape Town. Senior art specialist Wilhelm van Rensburg notes that South African abstraction “encompasses such diverse stylistic tenets as Abstract Expressionism, Action Painting, Informalism, Hard Edge, Geometric Abstraction and Colour Field Painting”. In the twenty-first century, abstraction has continued to be a part of South Africa’s artistic expression, with a significant and ongoing contribution by many contemporary artists.
Highlights of the sale include three works by pioneering abstract artist Ernest Mancoba, who left South Africa in 1938. Mancoba and his wife Sonja Ferlov were associated with CoBrA, a European avant-garde movement that was active from 1948 to 1951. The sale also features work by Eugene Labuschagne (who exhibited at the 1959 São Paulo Biennial) and David Koloane, a founder member of the renowned Thupelo workshop, who was also instrumental in establishing studio space for black artists at the Fordsburg Artists’ Studios (The Bag Factory).
Among the newer abstract lots are works by Sam Nhlengethwa, Brett Murray, Marlene Dumas, Blessing Ngobeni and William Kentridge –providing a compelling counterpoint to the twentieth-century abstract works included in this first-ever themed sale.
Strauss & Co’s Abstract South African Art online sale follows on from its successful recent Johannesburg live sale, which also included a focus on this country’s abstract art. Standout abstract offerings at the June 4 live sale included Sidney Goldblatt’s, Boats Spain I, which smashed previous auction records for the artist, Douglas Portway‘s London 62, Cecily Sash’s Diagonal Drama and a pair of 1989 lithographs by Mancoba.
The move to a fully themed online sale is part of an ongoing commitment to innovation, in keeping with Strauss & Co’s standing as a global leader in the South African art market. By pioneering the online auction platform in South Africa five years ago, Strauss & Co was at the forefront of a worldwide move to complement the traditional auction format with an online element.
The recent Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2018 revealed that online art market sales reached an estimated $4.22 billion in 2017, up 12% from the year before. The report also found that “almost three quarters (74%) of online art buyers bought more than one art object online in the last 12 months and are expanding the range and type of artworks and collectibles that they buy”. Strauss & Co’s forthcoming Abstract South African Art offers the opportunity for collectors to be part of a growing global interest in abstract art, at highly affordable reserves, in a very accessible way.
Strauss & Co’s online platform is easy to use, with buyers able to navigate sales from the comfort of their homes during the 6-day period of the sale. It contains a wealth of information about bidding online for novice buyers and those new to the online format. In this way, Stauss & Co’s online auctions are playing an important role in the creation of new collectors.
Strauss & Co holds the records for the highest prices achieved for numerous South African artists. February 2018 saw Strauss & Co host an auction of contemporary art in Cape Town, which affirmed the reputation at auction of senior artists like Robert Hodgins, William Kentridge, Karel Nel and Penny Siopis. The sale also uncovered collector appetite for works by a younger generation of artists, many of whom are represented on Strauss & Co’s online auctions in 2018.