BUSINESS ART April 2009 | Supplement to The South African Art Times | To order and subscribe call 021 424 7733 | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | Part of the Global Art Information Group
Bidders do battle at Strauss & Co inaugural auction at The Johannesburg Country Club. Its March 9 maiden sale at the Jo’burg Country Club was about 87% sold, and grossed R37m, against the pre-sale estimate of between R30m-R40m.
Slain Gold Magnate’s art sale may fetch SA record Nicky Smith March 25 (Bloomberg) -- The sale of the South African art collection of murdered gold mining magnate Brett Kebble may fetch the most ever paid for a collection of local works. The collection of 20th-century pieces may raise as much as 100 million rand ($11 million) when it goes under the hammer on May 7, Graham Britz, director of sales of Graham’s Fine Art Gallery in Johannesburg, said in an interview today. The collection includes artists such as Irma Stern, J.H. Pierneef and Walter Battiss. “People will still pay top dollar for top quality,” said Britz. “There is a lot at stake. We’re aiming for a record price paid for a South African painting. It will also be a record for a collective body of works sold on South African soil in a single session.” Kebble, died in his car in Johannesburg in September 2005 at the age of 41 after being shot seven times in what the main suspect for his murder has said was an “assisted suicide.” Since his death, JCI Ltd. and RandGold & Exploration Co. Ltd. have lodged a claim seeking 2 billion rand from his estate,
saying he illegally sold assets during his tenure as Chief Executive Officer of both companies. During his 11-year gold mining career Kebble led companies that created two of South Africa’s top four gold producers, and began the development of South Deep, the world’s largest gold deposit. He also helped lead the 1997 acquisition of a 35 percent stake in JCI from Anglo American Plc for $650 million, at the time the biggest attempt after apartheid to boost black ownership of South Africa’s economy.
South African art at an auction held March 8 in Johannesburg, including 7.15 million rand for Stern’s still life portrait “Magnolias in an Earthenware Pot,” according to its Web site. “Brett knew his art and over the years he has collected quite valuable art,” Jack Rosewitz, deputy chairman of Johannesburg-based Stephan Welz & Co. in Association with Sotheby’s, said in an interview. “He had an enormous collection and South African art is quite hot on the local market.”
The collection of 133 items includes Stern’s “Woman Sewing Karos” and “Mother and Child,” Alexis Preller’s “Christ Head” and Maria Magdalena Laubser’s “Portrait of an Old Woman with Head Scarf: Landscape in Background.” It also has pieces from Vladimir Tretchikoff, William Kentridge, J.E.A. Volschenk and Pieter Venning.
London-based Bonhams last month achieved record prices for 12 South African artists, including Laubser’s “Indian Girl With Poinsettias,” which sold for 276,000 pounds ($402,546), beating pre-sale estimates of 100,000 pounds to 150,000 pounds, while a piece by Preller sold for more than double the highest predicted amount, according its Web Site.
The sale, for which a catalog will become available April 16, comes as the auction value increased for South African art this year.
Kebble’s Stern painting of “Woman Sewing Karos,” a 1929 oil on canvas has been “conservatively valued” at between 5 million rand and 7 million rand, Britz said. The most ever paid for a Stern work was 7.39 million rand for her 1946 piece “Congolese Woman”
Strauss & Co. raised a record 38 million rand for
at a December 2007 Christie’s International Plc auction, which included the “hammer price” and extra charges, Britz said. Preller’s “Christ Head” has been valued between 2 million rand and 3 million rand, Britz said. A team of forensic investigators is still trying to find as many as 15 items missing from the collection, Hans Klopper, the managing director of Independent Corporate Recovery Advisors, said in a phone interview from Stellenbosch, South Africa. Klopper is winding down Kebble’s estate, which includes 10 million rand of Kebble’s personal debts, such as mortgages and car finance. Galleries will be put on alert for the missing items and rewards may be offered if pieces are returned, he said. Kebble in 2003 started the Brett Kebble Art Awards, which his family stopped after his death. The administrators are also “chasing approximately 35 million rand to 40 million rand” missing from the estate, Klopper said. “These were things such as donations and payments made at a time when his estate was hopelessly insolvent.” http://www.bloomberg.com
Art Bank Joburg faces challenges Michael Coulson Halfway through the initial five-year period in which it was hoping to break even, the Jo’burg Metro’s struggling pioneer art bank is to adopt a new business plan and move to a new location. The Canadian art bank on which Art Bank Joburg is modeled took nine years to break even, and CEO Antoinette Murdoch admitted recently that this sort of time horizon is probably more realistic. The Joburg Metro Council invested R5m in Art Bank Joburg, of which R3.1m has been spent on art works. According to Joburg cultural supremo Steven Sack, a council report, which has not yet been publicly released, estimates that another R4.5m is needed to make the body self-sufficient. So far, the art bank has acquired 30 clients, of which 60% are public-sector (mostly municipal) and the balance private-sector. It owns 1 090 art works by 290 individual
artists with a total value of R3.1m. The average value of R2 830 reflects the bank’s remit to encourage developing artists, and Sack points out that the maximum price the bank may pay for a work is R15 000. They are hired out at 20% of market value, and revalued every year, so this income should rise gradually, but clearly not at a rate which will make the venture economic in the foreseeable future. Sack in fact would like to spend another R7m on art, taking the stock to R10m, which should make the art bank profitable but, he admits, will take several years. He concedes that current tight economic conditions are unpropitious for raising funds from the corporate sector, but has several creative ideas for getting around this. For example, a client may be prepared to buy art, donate it to the bank and display it in its own premises, but only start to pay “rent” some years later. He reminded me that the arts White Paper recommended that the Department of Arts & Culture
set up a national art bank. It hasn’t done so (which will come as no surprise to cultural workers), which could make it possible for Art Bank Joburg to take over this role. It’s also possible that the Metro Council could be persuaded to supplement its original investment. And, finally, when it can produce three years’ audited accounts – which shouldn’t be that far away -- the art bank could apply for national lottery money. But the art bank is not sitting idly waiting for manna from heaven. As well as developing its existing activities, it’s co-ordinating the commissioning of a large tribute to Walter and Albertina Sisulu that the Metro Council plans to erect in Loveday St in Braamfontein. This will be a major piece of public sculpture, for which there’s a budget for labour and materials of up to R600 000 – though not all of this has yet been raised. The target date for completion is June this year, though this could be optimistic as it will require a tight time scale and such projects trend to lag behind schedule.
The bank, which announced last year that it was to move from Newtown to the old premises of the Sandton Civic Gallery, is now to relocate to Spark, the old electricity sub-station in Norwood which has seen sporadic success as an art gallery and craft centre but has never really fulfilled the potential held out by its attractive space. So it’s clear that the institution faces major challenges. If the new business plan doesn’t bring it closer to break-even fairly soon, one must wonder for how long the Metro Council – which doesn’t attach a high priority to the visual arts, judging by how the Joburg Art Gallery is starved of resources – will be prepared to carry it. And there’s one last wild card in the pack. Murdoch is widely tipped as a front-runner to succeed Clive Kellner as curator of JAG. Should this happen, for all Sack’s commitment to the art bank, another unwelcome element of uncertainty would enter the equation.
LATEST SOUTH AFRICA ART AUCTION MARKET UPDATE Michael Coulson After a spate of poor to mediocre results both in SA and London, the latest two SA art auctions held by long-established Stephan Welz/Sotheby’s (Swelco) and newcomer Strauss & Co and brought better results, in terms of the percentage of lots sold and prices compared to pre-sale estimates. Is this sustainable, or just a temporary rally in a bear market – a dead cat bounce, in stock market parlance? Both firms are guardedly optimistic. Strauss’s Stephan Welz says “My gut tells me that it can last,” while Swelco’s fine art expert in Cape Town, Phillippa Duncan, is even more positive. “Certainly it’s sustainable,” she says. “People want to protect their art collections, which they see as a major asset. If they can’t get the price they want, they’ll simply hold on for a less rainy day.” But there are reservations. Welz warns that “There’ll be serious problems at the lower end of the market, which will have to reorientate itself. Some artists’ work has been bought for social and political reasons more than artistic merit. “What you could call ‘calendar’ art may also face tough times. The market for [Johan] Oldert has virtually disappeared, while prices for, say, Gabriel de Jongh have barely moved in the past five years.” Duncan stresses that quality will be vital. Both clearly feel that the fact that Bonham’s was left with 20 of the 27 Irma Sterns in its pre-Christmas sale had as much to do with their quality as with any weakness in demand for the artist, though Welz (basking in the near-record for Magnolias in his sale) does think that she may have peaked for now – as may Pierneef, and even Maggie Laubser. Peak prices may themselves give people pause, he says. “They may think, why I should I spend R4m or whatever on a Stern when I can buy a very pleasant Terrence McCaw for R60 000-R80 000? Or, higher up the scale, a Hugo Naude?” But if the market as a whole is sustainable, which second-liners or outsiders may narrow the gap with Stern and Pierneef in the months ahead? Duncan is reluctant to be drawn. “It’s dangerous to be a tipster. People must start buying what they like again. And despite the collapse of the market for contemporary art internationally, it’s becoming stronger locally.
“However, contemporary artists must temper their often unrealistic expectations. It’s taken [William] Kentridge 20 years to reach his current status, and he has every right to command the prices he does. But it’s problematical when newcomers think they can expect the same.” Welz is more forthcoming – or foolhardy. “There’s a lot of room for Hugo Naude still. The market loves his cheerful floral landscapes. Alexis Preller could come in for a run, helped by the imminent publication of an authoritative book on him (sponsored by Gordon Schachat). And there’s always interest in Maud Sumner. Two with a lot of steam left in them are Freida Lock and Adolph Jentsch, though they’re held back by a lack of supply.” Supply is crucial. “I thought that after getting R1.4m for a Dorothy Kay [who many think is unduly neglected] we’d be inundated by her work, but we haven’t been offered a thing! The good people of Port Elizabeth [where she lived and worked] either don’t follow the market or are inseparably attached to their Kays.” I throw another PE name, a favourite of mine, at him: Fred Page. “He’s an amazing artist, but not everyone’s idea of a pleasing picture. A book’s being put together on him, too, though I hear they may be looking for sponsorship.” Recent interest in Tretchikoff, driven by one “total aberration of a price”, he dismisses as speculative rather than from genuine collectors – though he insists that, despite neither of Strauss’s Tretchis being accorded a price in the post-sale list, he did sell one of them. Remarkably, neither Welz nor Duncan see the world economic crisis as a major threat. Duncan reckons that the rich will still be buying quality paintings; Welz adds that his firm’s clients – though he’s not specific, this means traditional middle- and upper-income whites and the emerging black elite – haven’t been hit by recession – yet. And he believes that, if Zimbabwe is to be reconstructed, the knock-on benefits for SA will be substantial. He’s also encouraged by the breadth of buying at the Strauss sale. “There weren’t just one or two buyers, but a healthy spread.” Next big test, both agree, will be the Brett Kebble sale in May – but again with reservations. As Duncan puts it, she fears that Kebble often bought by name rather than quality. Well, we’ll soon find out.
BUSINESS ART | APRIL 09
Photo: Taryn Cohn
Stephen Sack Michael Coulson It’s ironic that one who worked so long to subvert apartheid now operates from a building that was once the head office of that bastion of separate development, the Johannesburg Housing Department. On the ground floor, next to the lift that leads up to Stephen Sack’s office, is a 1980s plaque commemorating that use, replete with old-era names like Venter, Du Toit, Burger (a brace of them, in fact) and Du Toit. The building itself is somewhat older, and Johannesburg’s director of arts, culture and heritage occupies a pleasantly old-fashioned, 1950s-type spacious wood-panelled office. Not that spacious implies uncluttered. The room is stacked with objects of art, prominent being the proposed maquettes for the sculpture of legendary jazz muso Kippie Moeketsi it’s planned to erect outside a re-opened Kippie’s. Sack’s father is the well-known architect Monty Sack, so he grew up in a creative environment. He studied fine art, art history and art education at Wits and Unisa, and worked for a while as a teacher, but he made his name as curator of The Negelected Tradition. This revisionist historical survey of SA art, which he says converted him from a political activist to a cultural activist, ran at the Jo’burg Art Gallery from November 1988 to January 1989. Together with Ricky Burnett’s Tributaries, it awakened white art lovers to the realisation that alongside the Pierneefs, Wennings and Coetzers was a whole parallel world of black artists, the Mohls, Pembas, Ngatanes and Sekotos, of which they knew nothing -- or, at any rate, next to nothing. Subsequently Sack curated a number of exhibitions, including the People’s Park Pace Building, seen in several SA museums and in Sweden, and The African Carousel, which he describes as a functional merry-go-round made by 10 artists for the Oliewenhout museum in Bloemfontein, from 1994-1996. His initial five-year contract in Jo’burg expires at the end of this year, though it may be renewed by mutual consent. Sack says his directorate has been housed in a number of municipal departments but seems to feel that its present home within the department of community development is appropriate. The department’s main mandate is to overcome social poverty, and the arts are a major tool in that effort. Sack points out that few cities in Africa, and indeed within SA, have a directorate like his. His brief naturally covers more than the visual arts. For instance, he says the city takes great pride in the achievements of the Jo’burg (previously Civic) Theatre, and recognises the importance of arts, culture and -- especially -- heritage -- more specifically, the heritage of the previously disadvantaged. But given the seemingly limitless demands on the public purse to provide far more basic services, how does a municipal authority justify spending money on what many see as luxuries, and what is its role in the process? He concedes that a municipality’s primary role is the provision of basic infrastructural services. In cultural services, it must be more of a catalyst, developing partnerships with the community and private sector. The Jo’burg Theatre, for instance, receives a R15m annual grant and generates about R16m in box
office revenue, so in effect is a 50:50 public:private partnership. And the planned new R60m theatre in Soweto has been made possible by making building it a condition of granting the rights to a major new property development. In terms of the visual arts, he sees the role of the public sector as providing an enabling environment -buildings and staff. The institution must then develop its own resources -- as, he says, Clive Kellner did at the Jo’burg Art Gallery, presenting exhibitions like Africa Remix. In effect, though, this means that Sack is basically a fund-raiser -- as, he says, he was when he was working in national government. “The important thing is the project, whatever it may be. But we’re never fully budgeted at the start of the year. We always have to work on keeping existing partnerships going and finding new ones.” Optimistically, Sack believes that, if you devise a viable project, sponsorship and funding generally fall into place. Last year’s Africa Day, for instance, started with an R800 000 allocation but ended up with R13m. “It can be a harrowing process, but by the end of the day if it’s a good project that excites people, sponsors will generally emerge.” While this may have been true in more prosperous times, it will surely be a much bigger challenge in a recessionary phase. Companies are already cutting back on arts spending as a “soft” way of making economies. He points out that his is by no means the only directorate that has to find innovative sources of revenue, citing the public:private partnership that’s redeveloping the old Paterson Park sports facility in Norwood, which is being extended to incorporate the old Spark! art space, new home of the Jo’burg Art Bank. There’s also potential to redeploy existing underused assets. Here, he mentions the old mobile library buses, which the Transport Museum’s chief curator Peter Hall (son of John Hall, founder of the museum) is converting into mobile museums that will be taken to poor communities all over the city. And a major achievement is the public art policy, whereby all infrastructure projects costing more than R10m must agree to spend part of the budget -- ideally, 1% -- on art. This will apply, for instance, to all the Bus Rapid Transit Stations, so will bring a lot of art to the old Townships. The Kippie Moeketsie statue is in fact part of this initiative. “We’ve created more public art in the past three years than in the entire previous history of the city. And much of it commemorates political figures ignored or vilified by the previous regime, like the Sisulus.” To Sack, the art scene created space for a nonracial community under apartheid, laying an important basis for the new SA. Old-era institutions like JAG have already started to shift to embrace black artists, black audiences and a progressive discourse. Whether he renews his contract or not, the pressure to use art as a transformational influence in society will clearly continue.
Antoinette Murdoch Antoinette Murdoch has had a long standing relationship with the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Recently appointed as the Chief Curator of JAG, Murdoch was smitten with the gallery when a maverick young school mate took her there for the first time on a date during her matric year. “I fell in love with JAG at that moment” says Murdoch. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the hapless chap! She describes standing in front of Penny Siopis’s Melancholia as her “eureka” moment, which led to a career of studying, practicing and managing visual art. Now, a mere 18 years later, she has been appointed to the helm of the institution she revered. “This position does not come up very often,” states Murdoch.” With at least 5 year contracts, this sort of position is usually held for 8 years or more.” She explained about her decision to apply for the post at this relatively early point in her career. Murdoch’s contract is for 5 years. However at 36, Murdoch is certainly not one of the gallery’s youngest Chief Curators, as industry gossip seems to believe. She joins the esteemed company of late Pat Senior who took the helm at aged in 1977 (age 33), Christopher Till who was appointed to the post in 1983 (age 32), Nel Erasmus (aged 36 at the start of her tenure) and more recently, Clive Kelner, who was appointed at 36 in 2004.. Undeterred by industry skepticism, Murdoch points out that the same critical analyses dogged her appointment as CEO of the Joburg Art Bank, an organization she has managed for 3 years, from its inception. It is significant to note that during this period, Murdoch had to navigate the institution through some very tough times, with operating funding cut off suddenly in year three due to factors beyond her control, despite the original business plan to the contrary. “It was either shut up shop or do other things to survive the period.” Says Murdoch. The Bank’s strategy of taking on projects and diversifying their core tasks, although much criticized and misunderstood by the industry, has seen the Art Bank generate operational budget that now ensures its return to its core function this year. It is this sort of challenging experience that will stand her in good stead for the task ahead of filling the shoes, with her six 5 feet, left by previous Chief Curator, Clive Kellner. “Clive did a great job. He has done so much to re-vitalise JAG, having inherited an organization that was fraught with challenges, both internal and external” she says. “When Clive took over, that part of town was a no go area, which presents a real problem if you are in the business of attracting visitors to a public facility.” On a more personal note, Murdoch will surely encounter some real challenges balancing her career as a practicing visual artist and that of Chief Curator of arguably the country’s foremost museum, and the biggest gallery on the sub-continent. She won’t be the first senior art manager to pursue a career as an artist in tandem, but she will certainly be the most watched one, for the moment. Murdoch is unequivocal however, citing her foremost goal in life is to ultimately only make art. However like all artists, “there are bills to pay and life to be lived until one can sustain oneself with art making alone.” “ I faced that choice early on” says Murdoch.” I could either work in an unrelated industry, or work where
my knowledge and experience lies.” Murdoch, who does not take up the position until the 1 April is hesitant to give any specific plans she has, citing her desire to get to grips with the detail of the institution before committing herself publicly. She does however believe that the role of a museum goes beyond the local scope. “It has a significant role in terms of how the South African art industry is viewed internationally and we should continue to engage in opportunities around leveraging JAG on an international platform” She expands on this by adding that while the role of the museum is to accumulate and safeguard South African heritage through its acquisition policies, a less exploited role of the Museum should also be to showcase international artists to a local audience, and hopes to consider bringing key artist’s to exhibit in South Africa. (This is however said with the disclaimer that at present Murdoch is not in possession of the budget nor detailed existing policies of the Museum in this regard). In the meantime, South Africa’s art industry is watching with interest to see if Murdoch’s love affair with JAG will become a successful marriage. Additional: For public interest The Johannesburg Art Gallery operates in the following manner: Operational: It falls under the City of Johannesburg, with the director of Art Culture and Heritage Services as its Director. This position is currently held by Stephen Sack. Operating budgets are allocated by the city, and expenditure is approved by the COJ on the recommendation of the Chief Curator. Exhibitions: There is a Curatorial staff of 4 Chief Curator, Curator: Contemporary Collections, Curator: Historical collections, Curator: Southern African Traditional African Art. Exhibitions are motivated by the Curator concerned and approved by the Chief Curator in consultation with the Curator concerned.
Photo: Victor Dlamini
Director of The Momo Art Gallery, Johannesburg People are drawn to become gallerists in many strange ways. For Monna Mokoena, proprietor of Momo gallery in Johannesburg’s Parktown North, the early inspiration was the glamorous locations of the fashion shoots and the articles on art in the fashion magazines bought by his father, an itinerant seller of clothing on the mines. However, it wasn’t a straight line from there – it seldom is. After matriculating, he wanted to become a lawyer specialising in musicians’ rights. There was no such specialist course available, so after doing a BJuris at Fort Hare, rather than join a general legal partnership he went into a successful partnership selling air time for cell phones. That collapsed while he was away on a prolonged overseas trip. On his return he sat down to make the hard decision on what he really wanted to be, and that proved to be the crucial moment. He’d often visited the Everard Read Gallery, which he considered a great institution in a great space. He persuaded Mark Read to take him on, in effect as an unpaid intern, and spent two years there. “It was the best education in the world. I hold the people there, but especially Mark, in the highest regard. No just for the quality of the business, but also for the gallery’s business ethic. I tried to model myself on how I saw Mark engaging with clients. They also educated me in the history of art.” After those two years it was time to move on, and Mokoena set up as a private and corporate art consultant. But he found that the first question a consultant is asked is, “Do you have a gallery?” So this led to the idea of establishing a space, and in 2003 Momo opened its doors. Every gallery has to establish its niche, and Mokoena’s USP was to concentrate on contemporary art. He felt that no other gallery was doing this; even the Goodman was then only handling established artists (black and white), though it has become more adventurous. Mokoena is often seen as the purveyor of art to the black diamonds, but he stresses that his gallery does not specifically handle black artists. Indeed, he wouldn’t want to be labeled like that. But it’s inevitable that the demographics of contemporary art should correspond ever more closely to those of the population at large. And Mokoena concedes that, whatever hangs on his gallery’s walls, much of his business still consists
of dealing in the SA “masters”. He’s still active as a consultant. At various times he’s advised the likes of the JSE, Nedcor, Vodacom, the IDC, Allan Gray and the Gauteng legislature; however much such bodies want to be seen to encourage new artists, they can’t ignore the established names. And Mokoena the consultant has to wear a different hat from Mokoena the gallerist. A corporate collection has to have a policy and identity that may not be the same as the gallery’s. You must resist the urge to favour your own artists and be true to the cause of building the collection, regardless of where you source works. Though he’s reluctant to give away trade secrets, Mokoena is confident that he’s built up a successful business with its own individual way of working that doesn’t just replicate what his competitors are doing. That it’s a risky business, especially when he started, he doesn’t deny. All the more so, perhaps, in that he has no institutional backing or wealthy individual behind him. He may take all he profits, but he also bears any losses in full. He’s had approaches from potential investors, but so far that’s the way he wants it. “Of course, there may come a time when I want to cash in my chips.” And he reckons the formula works. On the one side, young artists approach him for shows. On the other, his approach is becoming more global: he brings foreign artists, often one with African links, to SA. “That’s the next wave: art must be a two-way street,” he says, and hints that his ultimate dream is to have a string of galleries – or associates – elsewhere in the continent. But that may be some way away. He has no doubt that the art market, though holding up reasonably well, is suffering from the world economic crisis, and fears that the next six months will see casualties among some of the newer, less solidly established, local galleries. But Momo, he says, is fortunate in that it has already built an international image. It’s acting as curator for Culture France and its IFAS associate at the upcoming Johannesburg Art Fair, and also at Photo Beijing 2009, in China. “For us,” he says firmly, “there’ll be no change in focus. The only change will be expansion.”
South African Art Information Directory Your understanding of the SA Art World starts here
Acquisitions: An acquisitions committee, made up of the Chief Curator, the three curators listed above, independent members of the public (from all walks of life, from art professionals to others) and the gallery’s Registrar. The acquisitions committee is independent of the City and draws its main funds from the Angle American Centenary Trust Fund. Works bequeathed by individuals or organizations must also be approved by the acquisitions committee. Additional project funding generated by sponsorships and The Friends activities are handled on a case by case basis.
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JOBURG ART FAIR 2009
Joburg Art Fair 09
APRIL 09 | BUSINESS ART
WHATS ON PUMA brand experiments with the new, joining together creative spirits with major figures of the sports and fashion worlds – figures such as Usain Bolt and designer Hussein Chalayan, now the creative director of the PUMA Sport Fashion collections, says Jochen Zeitz, Chairman and CEO of Puma. “We aim to bring together individual artists and cultural organizations, and provide them with a platform for creative exchange and international exposure. We are delighted to be able to express our PUMAVision through this collaboration with the Joburg Art Fair and Creative Africa Network. (Full press release to follow with details of the Creative Africa Network’s involvement in the Fair.) And here are some of the other highlights planned for this year: o The gordonschachatcollection will be presenting SECURITY, a unique installation by internationally acclaimed South African artist Jane Alexander, originally commissioned for the 27th São Paulo Biennale. Also shown in Göteborg, Sweden in 2007, Security makes reference to forced and voluntary migration, land resources and attendant security. o In a joint initiative with Artlogic, this year’s event will also boast a stand featuring a selection of the best of contemporary South African furniture design speciallycurated by Trevyn and Julian McGowan of Source, a visionary local sourcing agent for the international retail market, including the Conran Shop in the UK and Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Terrain in the US. SOUTHERN GUILD is a the special collection of products being launched at the Art Fair that have been selected, from a wide variety of disciplines, as the finest, most original, exciting pieces from the most interesting local talents. The collection will comprise entirely new ‘one of a kind pieces’, limited editions as well as the launch of new lines. o Junior art fiends will have plenty to entertain them while their parents are perusing the art on display at the 26 gallery stands. ROOM 13 has a packed programme of creative activities planned for children, from tie-dye and block printing workshops to self-portraiture classes and poetry sessions. See the full programme of Room 13 activities attched here to plan your children’s Joburg Art Fair workshop schedule. The workhop fee is R80. If a school books more than three spaces, a discount of R30 per booking will be granted. (Pre-booking essential. Please visit our website to book.) o blank projects, an independent, artist-run exhibition space dedicated to new developments in contemporary South African Art, will be presenting BAD FORM: THINGS AND STUFF, curated by Kathryn Smith and Christian Nerf, with Francis Burger. Bad Form is a multifaceted project, of which the second phase, Things And Stuff is presented as a special project for the Joburg Art Fair. Bad Form is motivated by the need to document and reassess experimental practices in South Africa from the 1960s to the present. This neglected history offers critical ways of understanding our contemporary art in relation to radical practices here and elsewhere. ‘Bad form’ can be understood as referring to many things: in colloquial language, it refers to a fairly significant social faux pas. In aesthetic terms, it could refer to something that is badly constructed, or not sufficiently considered or resolved in formalist terms. But more than anything, ‘bad form’ is relative, relational; it is culturally, socially or even historically conditioned by whoever is declaring what constitutes the ‘good’, whether in taste or form. Bad Form approaches critical questions facing art from the perspective of art practice. Things and Stuff is about things revealing themselves incrementally, no big announcements. Shy art. Intractable art. Reticent things. Committed practice. blank projects was founded in Cape Town by Jonathan Garnham in 2005. Together with Liza Grobler and then Pierre Fouché, blank has hosted over sixty exhibitions to date by artists including Bianca Baldi, Ralph Borland, Katherine Bull, Julia Rosa Clark, Barend de Wet, Gimberg Nerf, the Gugulective, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Gabi Ngcobo, Peter Regli, James Webb and Ed Young.
Jo’burg’s art value-mart First published in The Mail and Guardian Ross Douglas The second Joburg Art Fair will have its private opening on April 2 for 1 500 invited guests. That same day the G20 summit meets in London to agree that the world is in a financial mess and to disagree on how to fix it. But what has this to do with the second Joburg Art Fair? After successfully producing William Kentridge’s version of Mozart’s Magic Flute in late 2007, Artlogic was able to secure sponsorship from FNB to produce the first art fair in Africa. The bank took a bold gamble on a big event to be executed by a small company that had never visited an art fair, let alone produced one. After visiting two of the big European fairs, Basel in Switzerland and Frieze in London, we started “reverse engineering” our very own fair. Though the bank was bullish, much of the art community was not. Most galleries felt the local market was too small to warrant a fair and that the real action was in London and New York. Some local art journalists felt that an art fair was too commercial and we would be better off with another Johannesburg Biennale, even though this was never an option because of the massive costs. Not one of the world’s 300-odd art fairs focuses on contemporary art from Africa. Our intention with the first fair was to fill this gap. It’s not that easy. Without gallerists managing and promoting art, artists don’t find the market they need to sustain their careers. As with so much talent from the continent, Europe and the United States provided the opportunities for African greats such as Owusu-Ankomah, El Anatsui and, more recently, Romuald Hazoume to exhibit. Our solution last year was to commission Simon Njami, who captured the world’s imagination with his Africa Remix show and to a lesser extent the Africa Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale. He chose work mainly from younger artists starting to break into the international art scene. Njami’s selection of work, entitled As You Like It, attracted interest but did not sell. By contrast, local galleries sold beyond
our expectations. Between R25-million and R30-million passed hands, giving the local contemporary art market a major cash injection. In May last year we sat to plan the 2009 fair. With the absence of a biennale or any other perennial contemporary art show in the country, there was an opportunity for our fair to play a bigger role than providing only a market for art from the continent. At the same time art NGOs, foreign cultural institutions and development organisations started to approach us, as they were looking for an event that was well managed with high visitor numbers that they could contribute to. The result is that the 2009 fair has 26 galleries, much the same as last year, and 12 “special projects”, most of which are new. The Gordon Schachat collection will host South African Jane Alexander’s Security, commissioned for the 27th Sao Paolo Biennale and never seen before in her home country. The Gauteng provincial government provided the budget to commission South Africa-born Tumelo Mosaka, who is now curator at the Krannert Art Museum in Illinois, to select video art from the Global South for a show, titled Here and Now. The BMW art talks taking place inside the fair host local speakers, including artists, curators and the Goethe Institute’s selected guests, Agnes Wegner and Thomas W Eller from Berlin’s Temporare Kunsthalle Museum. The fair has introduced design on a unique scale. Thirty-two of the country’s top designers have been commissioned to make unique and unusual pieces as part of the Southern Guild initiative. CulturesFrance is bringing out Encounters of Bamako, a selling photographic exhibition from the continent of Africa represented at the recent photographic Bamako Biennale.We raised money from Siemens for Funda, an art school in Soweto, to produce and sell its students’ work at the fair. Despite an impressive line-up for the second fair, we were still missing one vital ingredient -- an influential international audience. The world’s top fairs host the world’s top art personalities with all-expenses-paid packages. We will never have the budget to host
Photo: (detail) John Hodgkiss
this set and, positioned on the tip of Africa, we are slightly out the loop of who the “taste-makers” are. Shortly after Damien Hirst’s Inside My Head Forever exhibition at Sotheby’s sold $200-million in September, the contemporary art world went into freefall. It is no surprise that New York and London became the contemporary art centres of the world. A seemingly endless supply of easy-made cash fuelled an endless supply of ready-made art. When The Guardian broke the story that Hirst was not renewing the contracts of 17 of the 22 factory workers who make his work, it was clear the party was over. A seemingly impossible international art market has started to work in our favour. The contemporary art world will not die. Buyers will go back to basics and look for quality and value once again and are prepared to travel to find it.South African-born and educated Mark Coetzee, who headed the Miamibased Rubell collection, was recently appointed programme director for Puma Vision and chief curator of Puma Creative. Wanting traction in Africa, he approached us to assist with the fair. We quickly struck a deal whereby he flies and accommodates 50 curators, collectors and writers from Africa and abroad to attend the fair, giving us the audience we have been sorely wanting.
o The ARTIST PROOF STUDIO, a quality Art Education Centre that specialises in printmaking through a variety of diverse partnerships, will be marketing their high quality original prints, created by over 80 APS students, graduates and professional artists. Their Pro Print Studio has one of the largest and finest Takach etching presses in the country which has enabled them to edition the work of important South African artists such as Wim Botha, Diane Victor, William Kentridge, Willem Boshoff and many others who enjoy the experience of working in an environment filled with passion, creativity, and professionalism. They hope to attract new collectors as well as established and emerging artists to join the Studio and collaborate with their professional print technicians. Situated in the Newtown Cultural Precinct of inner city Johannesburg, the APS was established in response to a call by Nelson Mandela to all South Africans to participate in the building of a new, democratic society that would promote reconciliation, cultural diversity, equality, and above all, a culture that celebrates human rights. APS programmes embody a strong commitment to the use of art in promoting positive social change and development. Their project partners include NGOs such as Men as Partners, Sonke Gender Justice Network, the Art Therapy Centre, Room 13, NOAH, Phumani Paper and others. The National Paper Prayers Campaign involves both rural and urban communities nationally in the promotion of AIDS awareness. o For the Screening Booth, Joburg-born Tumelo Mosaka has curated HERE AND NOW, a selection of moving image work from countries in the Global South. Mosaka was recently appointed Curator of Contemporary Art at the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. He was previously an associate curator at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, where he organised the exhibition Infinite Islands: Contemporary Caribbean Art, and was one of the coordinating curators of ©Murakami. o CULTURESFRANCE, in collaboration with Gallery MOMO and the French Institute of South Africa, will be presenting a selection of African photography, entitled ENCOUNTERS OF BAMAKO. o Siemens will be sponsoring a stand of selected art works by students at the legendary Sowetan arts and culture centre, FUNDA. There will be no shortage of opportunities for on-site networking action at this year’s Fair with the presence of: o A designer READING BAR, with the best art and visual culture publications on offer by Boekehuis, Biblioteq and Clarke’s. Alexander Opper and Amir Livneh of the young Johannesburg-based firm, Notion Architects (recently featured in Wallpaper magazine), have conceived of a city-inspired design for the reading bar that has at its core ‘the celebration of the book as an object of beauty’. o A VIDA E CAFFE and LOUNGE BAR with designer drinks by Grolsch, Meerlust, Tokara and Pommery, and Kartell furniture from Twiice International, in the heart of all the networking and social action. So, once you’ve got your entry ticket, there’ll be no need to desert the main event in search of refreshment or some time out. Make sure you’re part of this year’s Joburg Art Fair, set to be the hippest cultural event unfolding in Jozi in 2009. For more information see www.joburgartfair.co.za or contact:Matthew McClure email@example.com or +27 (0)11 482-445
This year’s fair will showcase the work of more than 400 artists and 32 designers from the continent, with the majority coming from South Africa. As the art world focuses more sharply on value, art from Africa will become of greater interest. To capitalise on this opportunity we need to create art events that last long enough to become part of the international art calendar. The start and collapse of the Johannesburg Biennale and the stillbirth of Cape Africa Platform reinforce negative perceptions of Africa. The Joburg Art Fair has found an international audience in its second year. With the ongoing support of FNB and secondary sponsors the fair will become the single most important meeting place for collectors, curators and writers and those curious about contemporary art from the continent. Ross Douglas is the director of the Joburg Art Fair
JOBURG ART FAIR FLOOR PLAN
Mikhael Subotzky, Michelle, Mallies household, Rustdene Township, 2008 (Goodman Gallery)
BUSINESS ART | APRIL 09
SOUTH AFRICAN ART AUCTIONS ART AT AUCTION The results of art sold at auction are always regarded as important indicators of current market values as well as trends in the art market. This can be misleading in many ways, as record prices are often the result of a ‘battle of egos’ and prices for particular artist’s works are generally not always comparable because of the difference in quality, condition, period or subject matter. It is, however, a very important and supposedly transparent part of the art market and therefore deserves closer scrutiny.
Secrets of the auction room By Georgina Adam - Editor-at-large of The Art Newspaper. Published: 2 January 2009 by the Financial Times at http://www.ft.com/arts/collecting The art market is often described as the last unregulated financial market in the world. It has remained stubbornly resistant to almost all efforts to bring transparency to its operations, which still mainly function on the basis of highly personal relations and often secretive transactions. The problem is that these transactions can today be worth tens of millions, and that art was – at least until the recent global financial crisis – increasingly touted as a “safe” alternative asset class and was even put into investment funds.
The great comeback
Michael Coulson chats with Stefan Welz about Strauss & Co, South African art auctions, as well as setting up shop in Cape Town and Johannesburg Veteran art auctioneer and farmer Stefan Welz is as happy as a boy with a new train set. The first sale catalogue for his new firm, Strauss & Co, is going to bed with 165 lots and a gross estimated between R30m-R40m. The average low estimate of about R190 000 is the highest he’s ever known for an auction of SA art. Values range the full spectrum, from R4 000-R6 000 to R4m-R6m, the latter for an Irma Stern landscape, White House in Madeira. There’s also what Welz claims is internationally still the best-known, and most reproduced, SA painting. Frans Oerder’s still life Magnolias was bought by the New York Graphic Society (which bought the artist’s Blossomtime at the same time) and published in 1939 as a print which for many years was the biggest selling reproduction of any still life painting in the world. It came back home, bought by an SA collector, in 1956 and is now on offer with an estimate of R600 000-R900 000. The gross may not be a record, but Welz no longer sees size as a virtue. “The old company just got too big, and we had to drive sales regardless of quality just to pay the bills – the appetite was insatiable! Also, I got bogged down in finances and day-to-day management. Now I’m back to doing what I enjoy most: looking at pictures, finding them, and persuading people to buy them. It’s important for me to believe in what I’m selling.” While he denies that he wasn’t proud of everything he sold at Stephan Welz/Sotheby’s (now increasingly known for brevity and clarity, if not elegance, as Swelco), the subtext is that some work came dangerously close to the margin. He stresses that price
and quality are not synonymous – though Tretchikoff does feature in Strauss’s first sale! Busy as they have been assembling their first Jo’burg fine art sale, Welz and his new colleagues have not been letting the grass grow under their feet in other areas. Welz confirms, with properly if barely disguised glee, market rumours that Strauss has poached three top people from the Cape branch of his old firm. As we spoke, Strauss chairman Conrad Strauss was actually in Cape Town looking for new premises, probably in the Claremont/Newlands area. “I know the trendy galleries are moving to Woodstock,” says Welz, “but it’s not ideal for us. We have a different, somewhat older, clientele – on both the buying and selling side. They come from the southern suburbs and, rightly or wrongly, they’re not so keen to go into what they see as less salubrious areas.” Strauss plans to differentiate the venues. “We’ll keep major art sales in Johannesburg. We will include art in Cape Town in the two sales we plan each year, but it may be lesser, more decorative items. On the other hand, we’ll concentrate on things like furniture, silverware and ceramics in Cape Town, where they have a more developed market. “After all, the Cape is where most old Cape furniture comes from; it’s the natural place to sell it.” Strauss will also preview highlights of its first sale in Cape Town, on February 17/18, in the Dolphin Room at the Castle. Is Welz worried about re-entering the art market at a time when it’s coming under huge strain internationally? Major auction houses like Sotheby’s itself, Christie’s and Bonham’s are frantically laying off staff and slashing costs.
“Lesser work, of what one may call decorative value, is what I believe will suffer most. Its buyers tended to be indiscriminate and occasional. “Also, people who bought in the mid to late 1980s, when the market was depressed, are becoming sellers as they reach an age where they’re scaling down and moving into smaller properties. “But the backbone of the market is the true collector, who’s not after a quick buck, knows what he wants, and is prepared to wait for it. That market may be affected, but I think it will remain, and it’s what we must focus on. “The market may hold up better in SA, but it can’t escape the trend. In particular, second-rate works from major artists may be hit.” What concerns Welz more is that the market is not broadening. “The favoured names all appear in the first edition of Esme Berman’s book [Art & Artists of SA, published in 1970]. That’s a limited supply: where are the new names we need desperately? “And remember that the market for SA art is still an SA market. The Russian oligarchs aren’t buying it! And it’s unattractive for an SA resident to buy abroad and repatriate art: the extra costs can add 40% to the hammer price.” Sage words potential buyers will do well to bear in mind. Oh, by the way: Welz has decided to resist a land claim on his farm (“It’s completely frivolous”) and Farmers Weekly chose one of his animals as Cow of the Year. So there’s no let-up in that side of his life, either.
The advantage to auctions is that they have a certain democratic, or rather meritocratic, element: for new collectors, buying at auction is easier than braving the haughty froideur of some top art galleries. At auction, if you have the money you can simply bid for a work, thereby avoiding the machinations of dealers who have waiting lists for some artists and select those to whom they will sell. The auction room is also often seen as the only place where “hard” figures can be obtained, with recorded transactions visible and available to all. But even this apparently transparent process is not all that it appears. Much of what is going on is secret, one way or another. Let’s start with the sales catalogue. The first secret is the reserve for each work, the price below which it cannot be sold. Disclosing this, argue the auction houses, would disadvantage the seller by letting bidders know what is the lowest possible price, and discouraging them from bidding any higher. What is open is the printed estimate, the price range that most newcomers would imagine represents the auction house specialists’ considered valuation of the work. Buy it for less than the low estimate, and you’re getting a bargain; above the high estimate, you’ve overpaid, right? Actually, no. Estimates can be meaningless. Vendors’ expectations can be too high; the auction house may have agreed to an inflated estimate on one work in order to bag others. Alternatively, the estimate can be unrealistically low, to attract potential buyers. Proving the point, Christie’s buries this disclaimer in its conditions of sale: “Estimates of the selling price should not be relied on as a statement of the price at which the item will sell or its value for any other purpose.” The salerooms’ conditions of sale also detail the commission they take from buyers and sellers on each sale. The buyer’s premium is on a sliding scale
from 25 per cent to 12 per cent, but here again, there is a backstory going on. Until this autumn, competition between the two main auction houses was so intense to get the best property for sale, that in some cases there was virtually an auction before the auction, each firm vying to outbid the other with more generous inducements for sellers. In some cases the whole of the buyer’s premium was given to the seller, as well as the vendor’s premium being waived entirely. This is believed to be the arrangement David Rockefeller made with Sotheby’s when he sold Mark Rothko’s 1950 “White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)” for $72.8m (£36.7m) in May last year. Further secret financial arrangements are flagged up in saleroom catalogues with a series of tiny symbols. Some of these symbols indicate that the work in question may have been guaranteed for an undisclosed sum, meaning that the auction house has promised this to the vendor, even if the work doesn’t sell. A “third-party guarantee” is when the saleroom farms out the risk to an outsider, who agrees to underwrite the risk if the work doesn’t sell – and benefits financially if it does. Another symbol indicates that the firm itself owns or part-owns the work – again, there is no detail as to what percentage it owns. Much head-scratching has resulted from Sotheby’s newly introduced symbol, the “irrevocable bid”, by which someone agrees to leave a – yes – secret bid on a work. This was first used in November’s New York sales for Kasimir Malevich’s “Suprematist Composition” (1916), which sold for $60m, to whomever had agreed to leave the irrevocable bid. If another person had come in over that sum, then the irrevocable bidder would have taken a cut in the difference between his price and the price actually made. Another newcomer – the “interested party symbol” – indicates that someone who has a financial interest in the lot may bid, and sometimes even “may have knowledge of the reserve”. All these arrangements were just dandy when the market was rising, but guarantees have come back to haunt the auction rooms in the financial meltdown of the last few months. Sotheby’s has admitted it lost $42m in guarantees in its third-quarter SEC filing; Christie’s as a private company does not have to disclose them, but certainly has taken a hit: a dozen guaranteed works failed to sell in its November 12 sale of contemporary art in New York. Sotheby’s CEO Bill Ruprecht has stated that for the foreseeable
future the firm is “sitting on the sidelines” as far as guarantees are concerned. So let’s actually watch the sale get under way. The auctioneer starts off each lot a few increments under the low estimate (each increment is usually a rise of about 10 per cent). It’s a treat watching him orchestrate the bids, arms waving, nodding to someone here, picking up a bid there … except that he may have no bids at all. He is doing what is called “taking them off the chandelier”, inventing bids up to the reserve, after which he has to find a real bidder. If he hasn’t got one, then the giveaway is the omission of the word “selling” before the hammer comes down, and a quick “passed” or “unsold” blurred into “next lot!” Chandelier bidding is not illegal; it would only be so if the auctioneer continued to take fictitious bids over the reserve. It adds to the theatre of the event, but it is hardly transparent. As for the real bidders, they too can be shrouded in secrecy. At the major sales, the most important potential buyers are hidden in windowed “sky boxes” above the room, where they can observe the action and bid by telephone. In the room, auction house staffers pass on bids from the banks of telephones; sometimes, to retain anonymity, a staffer holding an unconnected telephone will be relaying bids from someone who is actually in the room. This anonymity – which is justifiable in many ways, including for reasons of security – is carefully protected. To this day we don’t know who bought many of the world’s most expensive works at auction, even though they were sold openly. Until a few years ago, auctioneers generally knew in advance who would be bidding on the most expensive art, and where they would be sitting. So scratching your nose is unlikely to land you with a Picasso. But with the arrival of many new buyers from countries such as Russia or China, the salerooms have had some big surprises. The best known is the 2006 sale of Picasso’s 1941 “Dora Maar au Chat”, for which a buyer buried half way down Sotheby’s saleroom put in an unexpected and winning bid of $95.2m. The painting’s owner is believed to be Russian or Ukrainian, but nobody, even most of the people at Sotheby’s, knows for sure. Which just shows that, in the smoke-and-mirrors world of the saleroom, even the auctioneers themselves don’t always know what’s going on.
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Mark Kretschmer Chairman and major shareholder in Stephan Welz & Co in association with Sotheby’s (Swelco). Michael Coulson What makes somebody who admits he has no knowledge of either art or the auction business buy into arguably SA’s most respected art auction house? It’s simple, says Mark Kretschmer, chairman and major shareholder in Stephan Welz & Co in association with Sotheby’s (hereinafter referred to as Swelco). “My wife. Eight months after I retired from my previous business [for 36 years he’d dealt in medical supplies] she told me that while she’d married me for better or worse, she hadn’t married me for lunch. “So I had to find something to get me out of the house. It happened that my auditor was also Stephan Welz’s, and he knew Stephan wanted out. So I took a look at it, and we just went on from there.” Kretschmer says that while it’s been a steep learning curve, there’ve been no major shocks or surprises. “You have to come into a new business with an open mind. But we [he and his business partner, deputy chairman Jack Rosewitz] have seen areas where the business could be improved and modernised, and we’ve been trying to do that.” Despite rumours in the art world that that the sweeping of the new brooms upset many of the auction house’s long-established staff, Kretschmer claims that an area on which the new bosses have focussed is staff relations. “We’ve tried to be innovative and dynamic, looking for new products and other areas where we could expand. Heads of departments have been incentivised and given more autonomy. “When we bought the business, we had two objectives: to ensure continuity, and ultimately to hand it over to the staff. After all, I’m 62, and Jack is 71, so we won’t be around for 20 years!” Kretschmer readily concedes that not all the new initiatives have been successful. “We tried to develop a contemporaray art sale, but it didn’t materialise. Unlike New York or London, SA isn’t ready for a contemporary art sale. We couldn’t put a decent selection together and in any case we think the latest contemporary art sales abroad show that the bubble has burst for contemporary art. “And contemporary art needs branding, as artists like Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons or collectors like Charles Saatchi have shown. With traditional art, the branding is already there, and it’s much more a ques-
tion of supply and demand. “Another new product we tried was vintage and veteran motor cars. We had a very [as he spoke, the last word was heavily underlined] success but we didn’t see a future in it and decided not to proceed. Still, we did sell a Merc for R8m.” Swelco’s relationship with its old principal, the eponymous Stephan Welz, and his new firm Strauss & Co is obviously a sore point. “W bought the business with two provisos: that Sotheby’s was happy, and that the main directors would stay for five years. But if someone doesn’t want to stay, there’s no point in forcing them.” And he’s dismissive of the suggestion that that the loss of three staff in the Cape Town branch, presented by Strauss as a coup, was a major blow. “Only one of them was in fact on the staff, the other two were consultants, and only one of them was a specialist, the other two were in PR and admin. In fact, we’ve benefited from their departure, because with the money we saved, we’ve been able to employ more specialists in Cape Town.” And though this is the sort of statement people automatically make for public consumption, there’s no reason to doubt his assertion that the arrival of Strauss is positive. “It can only broaden the market, and I’m always in favour of competition.” While there may have been early setbacks, Swelco’s latest Cape Town sale, if falling short of Strauss’s recent bonanza, was one of the more successful recent sales of SA art. The firm has just released details of its next Jo’burg sale, on April 20 and 21, brought forward a day to avoid clashing with the general election. It includes 250 works of SA art, the highlight being an Irma Stern portrait of a girl with her only known painting of her father on the verso, valued at R800 000-R1.2m. There are also major works by familiar names like William Kentridge, Adriaan Boshoff, Francois Krige, Walter Battiss, Gerald Bhengu, George Pemba, Maud Sumner, Pierneef, Pieter Wenning and Gregoire Boonzaaier. The sale also includes furniture, silver, ceramics and jewellery. The estimate for the SA art section is R8.6m-R12.7m, and the take will need to be well above the low figure if Swelco is not to lose ground to Strauss & Co in public perception.
Erik Laubscher’s “Still Life with Mandolin, Music Score and Fruit” selling for R1 120 000
Erik Laubscher sets record auction price for SA living artist Steve Kretzmann The price paid for an artwork by Erik Laubscher which went up on auction at the summer decorative and fine arts auction in Kirstenbosch on February 24, has set a new South African record for a living artist. Laubscher’s painting from the 1950’s, ‘Still Life with Mandolin, Music Score and Fruit’, sold for R1.14 million, five times the pre-sale estimate posted in the catalogue by Stephan Welz & Co. in association with Sotheby’s. Up until recently, work by Laubscher, who is a master of virtually all genres of the abstract, has sold in the region of R50 000 – R70 000. 82-year-old
Laubscher, who lives in Cape Town and continues to paint, said he was eating his “humble breakfast, barefoot, wearing old shorts”, when he was given the news. “I am dazed,” he said. He said he could not imagine the “incredible honour or the impact” the sale would have on works he has kept for almost 60 years. But he said he was being “quite cool” about it and “not shouting yippee! You’ve got to wait for the next one (sale).” It just makes drawing up my will a lot more complicated.” Erik Laubscher’s “Still Life with Mandolin, Music Score and Fruit” selling for R1 120 000
SOUTH AFRICAN ART AUCTIONS
APRIL 09 | BUSINESS ART
Cecil Skotnes’ wood panel “Birds” (R616 000, est R350 000-R450 000) Irma Stern’s Still Life with Magnolias went for R 7.15m REVIEW
Strauss’s first maiden sale, Jhb
Michael Coulson If new auction house Strauss & Co wanted to start with a bang, it certainly succeeded. Its March 9 maiden sale at the Jo’burg Country Club was about 87% sold, and grossed R37m, against the pre-sale estimate of between R30m-R40m. This was a record for an auction of SA art in South Africa, though it falls well short of the GBP7.1m Bonhams grossed last September. The average price per lot sold was R270 000. Top price was R7.15m for Irma Stern’s Still Life with Magnolias. Auctioneer Stephan Welz asked the buyer if he’d like to pay an extra R100 000, so as to match the highest price ever recorded for an SA painting, but the suggestion was declined. Second highest price was reached by Stern’s White Houses, Madeira, at R5.72m (all prices include the buyer’s premium, of 10%). However, even Sterns weren’t guaranteed to sell, showing that while Strauss itself was selective in its choice of work, buyers were even more discerning. Two of the biggest casualties were her White Sands, bid up to only R2.2m, against the estimate of R2.5mR3m, and Still Life with Mask, where the best bid was R1.3m, against the R1.6m-R2.2m estimate. Several other artists also set new auction records, led by Frans Oerder’s Magnolias, at R1.76m (est R600 000-R900 00). This was bought by the New York Graphic Society in 1939, which reproduced it as a print that for years was the world’s best-selling print ever, and is also said to be the best known SA picture in the world – Tretchikoff prints notwithstanding! It was repatriated to SA in 1956. The seldom-seen Dorothy Kay’s Old Oyster Woman was a record R1.4m (est R700 000-R1m). A Jean Welz still life fetched R1.21m (est R700 000-R900 000). Other records close to the R1m-mark were Pieter Wenning’s Cottage, Nelspruit (R990 000, est R400 000-R600 000) and Anton van Wouw’s Noitjie van die Onderveld (R935 000, est R200 000-R300 000), while a Freida Lock Interior reached R660 000 (est R200 000-R300 000).
The R616 000 record for a Skotnes wood panel set at the Sotheby/Stephan Welz (Swelco) sale in Cape Town only a few weeks before was just beaten, at R668 400 for Mythical Figures (est R600 000-R900 000). While nine Pierneefs were the most works by any one artist on offer, they were not major, the top price being R445 600 for Rainclouds & Sunshine, SWA (est R300 000-R500 000). Hugo Naude’s Walker Bay got R557 000 (est R500 000-R700 000) and there was good interest in Ephraim Ngatane and George Pemba. The former’s Going on Leave went for R501 300 (est R500 000R700 00) and Carlton Centre Under Construction for R423 320 (est R300 000-R580 000), the latter’s Guitar Player for R401 040 (est R300 000-R500 00) and Dice Players for R311 920 (est R280 000-R350 000). Two of the most notable failures came right at the end. Welz didn’t even sound as if he expected to sell the two Tretchikoffs and bidding petered out way short of the low estimates: at R210 000 for Gladioli (est R250 000-R350 000) and R400 000 for Flower Seller (est R450 000-R550 000). Coming on top of Swelco’s successful Cape Town sale and disappointing results in London, this confirms that the market for SA art is in SA. This will be further tested in Bonhams’ 93-lot April sale in London of contemporary African art, in which SA artists are well represented, headed by Dumile Feni and William Kentridge. Bonhams’ next sale devoted entirely to SA will be only in November, while Christie’s calendar to August contains no date for an SA sale. At home, Swelco’s next Jo’burg sale is in late April, with Graham Britz’s auction of the Brett Kebble collection a fortnight later. Strauss & Co’s next dates are September 14 in Jo’burg and October 8 for its first Cape Town sale.
AUCTION BUZZ INAUGURAL STRAUSS AUCTION JOHANNESBURG COUNTRY CLUB
Stephan Welz and Co. In Association with Sotheby’s (SWELCO)
Stephan Welz and Co. In Association with Sotheby’s Decorative and Fine Art auction in Cape Town last month was far the best of the recent season in both volume and prices. In the major section devoted to SA art, 78% of 104 lots sold; an R8.47m gross was well ahead of the minimum estimate of R6.97m. In the absence of major Irma Sterns, other artists set auction records. Top price was a record R1.14m for an Erik Laubscher Still Life (estimate R200 000-R300 000). Other records were set by Cecil Skotnes’ wood panel “Birds” (R616 000, est R350 000-R450 000) and a Van Essche genre scene (R728 000, est R275 000-R320 000). The artist’s “In The Twilight” fetched R616 000 (est R200 000-R300 000). William Kentridge did well, two drawings going for R537 600 (est R350 000-R450 000) and R268 800 (est R150 000-R200 000). Maggie Laubser’s Barge on Canal reached R358 400 (est R180 000-R240 000) and two minor Pierneef landscapes went for R313 600 each (est R250 000-R350 000 and R200 000-R300 000), one being a casein work on paper. The earlier session of 82 minor works was 85% sold and grossed almost R850 000, against the low estimate of R607 000. Features were R56 000 for a Tretchikoff portrait drawing (est R7 000-R10 000) and R44 800 for a Kenneth Baker landscape (est R16 000-R20 000). This was a big improvement on the firm’s November sale in Johannesburg in November, when a gross of almost R11m over three sessions fell short of the minimum estimate of R15.6m, and about 47% of lots sold. Among early casualties were a Pierneef Bushveld landscape, estimated at R1.2m-R1.6m. Of the six lots with the highest estimates in the second session, four didn’t sell: a Willie Bester sculpture, two Kentridge graphics and a set of five lithographs by Marlene Dumas. Another Kentridge graphic, Sleeper & Ubu, fetched the top price in this section, at R145 600 (estimate: R120 000-R160 000), followed by Robert Hodgins’ oil, Clubmen of America, at R95 200, well below the estimate of R100 000-R150 000. The third and final session contained all the major works: 57 of 116 lots were sold, for R8.3m, against the R10.5m estimate. Top price was R896 000 for an Adriaan Boshoff oil, August Winds (est R800 000-R1.2m). However, four other Boshoffs, with estimates ranging from R180 000 minimum to R800 000 maximum, failed to sell. Just one of three Maggie Laubser’s sold, an atypical Rural scene, for R560 000 (est: R300 000-R500 000). Of other popular artists, an Alexis Preller painting on fibreglass, Angel King, was bid up to R336 000 (est R250 000-R300 000). George Pemba’s Initiation Ceremony went for R157 000 (est R150 000-R200 000). Gerald Sekoto’s Walking Down the Road (1961) just made the R300 000-R500 000 estimate, at R302 000, but his Water Carriers did much better, at R157 000 (est R100 000-R150 000). Two works by Ephraim Ngatane, both estimated at R300 000-R500 000, went for R302 000 and R538 000. Tretchikoff’s Proteas in a Silver Vase reached R224 000 (est: R200 000-R300 000), though his Arum Lilies (est: R150 000-R200 000) was passed.
Sam Nhlengethwa, Julia Charleton, Fiona Rankin-Smith and Maureen Nhlengethwa
STRAUSS PRIVATE VIEWING, THE DOLPHIN ROOM, CASTLE, CAPE
Countess Sylvia Labia, Christopher Peter and Count Natale Labia
Francis Antoni, Mavis Shill and Louis Shill
Alberto Capri, Bina Genovese, Deon Viljoen and Jan du Toit
Ian Lomberg, Countess de Quelen, Juliette Lomberg and Count de Quelen
Bonham’s auction in London last month gave much cause for thought. Especially to “investors” in Irma Stern: no less than 20 of the 27 Sterns offered didn’t sell, including the five with the highest estimates. These comprised three still lifes, with estimates of GBP100 000-GBP150 000 and (twice) GBP150 000GBP200 000, plus Malay Girl (GBP70 000-GBP90 000) and Gathering Firewood (GBP125 000-GBP175 000). Many of these works are indeed reoffers from previous sales. This left the way open for Maggie Laubser to head the value list, her Indian Girl with Poinsettias reaching GBP276 000, against the estimate of GBP100 000-GBP150 000. The main section of Bonham’s sale saw 68 of 135 lots sell, as near as doesn’t matter to 50%. The gross was about GP1.5m, against the low estimate of GBP2.4m. Of other leading artists, eight of 12 Sekotos sold, five of eight Van Essches, five of seven Gregoire Boonzaaiers and three of four Pierneeefs; but only two of seven Prellers, three of eight Francois Kriges and none of the three Tretchikoffs Only one other work topped GBP100 000: GBP132 000 for Preller’s Still Life with Crocodile (estimate GBP40 000-GBP60 000). But there were a few notable and record prices. Like GBP52 800 for Anton Van Wouw’s bronze Shangaan, estimated at only GBP7 000-GBP10 000, and GBP60 000 for a Battiss semiabstract (GBP12 000-GBP18 000). The only other works to top GBP40 000 were a Hugo Naude landscape (GBP40 800, est GBP35 000GBP55 00), a Sekoto interior scene (GBP48 000, est GBP40 000-GBP46 000), and two Pierneefs: Golden Gate (GBP72 000, est GBP60 000-GBP90 000) and Acacia Trees (GBP43 200, est GBP40 000-GBP60 000). At Bonham’s sale of minor works the previous day, 88 of 147 lots sold for a gross of GBP1.45m, against the low estimate of GBP1.7m. Top price of GBP9 000 was shared by William Syme’s 19th-century view of Table Bay (est GBP1 000-GBP1 500) and a J K Moehl At Johannesburg Station (est GBP2 000GBP3 000), closely followed by a Terrence McCaw view of Hout Bay (GBP7 800, est GBP3 000-GBP5 000). This was, however, a much better result than Christie’s sale of Australian and SA art in December, which was 60% unsold. Only seven of the 16 SA works sold, grossing GBP392 000 against a low estimate of GBP827 000, the only notable price being GBP301 250 for an Irma Stern portrait (est GBP250 000GBP300 000). Neither Pierneef, only one of three Francois Kriges and one of five Dylan Lewises sold. All prices quoted above include the buyer’s premium, of 12%-20%. The next couple of months will see the first sale by the new auction house, Strauss & Co, plus a Stephan Welz and Co. In Association with Sotheby’s sale in Johannesburg and Graham Britz’s disposal of the late Brett Kebble’s collection. These will test whether the Stephan Welz and Co. In Association with Sotheby’s Cape sale marks a genuine market recovery, or was just a flash in the pan.
William Joseph Kentridge (1955-) THE HIGHVELD STYLE MASKED BALL signed and dated ‘88. R 500 000 - R 700 000 Lot 329, SWELCO Sale 8 April 2009 Bonham’s London Africa Now An auction of contemporary African Art Enquiries: Giles Peppiatt + 44 (0) 20 7468 8355 email@example.com Hannah O’Leary + 44 (0) 20 7468 8213 firstname.lastname@example.org Or log onto: www.bonhams.com 20 & 21 April 2009 Viewing 17-19 April 09 SWELCO Stephan Welz and Company, in association with Sotheby’s Fine & Decorative Arts, Furniture, Silver, Ceramics and Jewellery Johannesburg Venue: 13 Biermann Ave, Rosebank Johannesburg Venue: The Great Cellar, Alphen Hotel, Alphen Hotel, Constantia See www.swelco.co.za for further details Viewing at: Graham’s Fine Art Gallery : 16th April – 1 May 2009 Summerplace: 4th – 6th May 2009 Auction: Summerplace: 7th May 2009 Grahams Art Gallery Brett Kebble Art Viewing Contact the following for auction catalogue www.brettkebbleartcollection.co.za www.grahamsfineartgallery.co.za Call Grahams Art Gallery 011 27 11 4659192 14 September 2009 at 8 p.m Strauss & Co Fine Art Auctioneers 89 Central Street, Houghton, Gauteng 2198 Important South African Paintings, Watercolours and Sculpture (Entries open till 10 July 2009) The Johannesburg Country Club 8pm Tel. 011 728 8246 www.straussart.co.za, email@example.com Cape Town Office, 078 044 8185 firstname.lastname@example.org
BUSINESS ART | APRIL 09
ART AND INVESTMENT
ART INVESTMENT AND COLLECTING
Art – Pleasure or Investment? Johans Borman With Damien Hirst recently making headlines with his £111m mould-breaking auction sale at Sotheby’s, a quote attributed to him came to mind; “Art is about life and the art market is about money”. As gallerist I am continuously questioned about the investment potential of art and have by now formulated a response that usually covers most of the relevant aspects: I do not see art as a typical financial investment instrument, as it is not created to be that in the first place. Artists usually set out to capture a mood, emotion or underlying message and communicate this to the viewer using their particular approach, style and medium. Unlike financial investments art does not pay dividends, interest or rent – the ‘return on investment’ or the result of the interaction with a work of art lies in the emotional stimulation and ‘cerebral gymnastics’ experienced during this appreciation process. In my opinion, the concept of ‘investment art’ distracts from the real purpose of art and is being emphasized to motivate non art lovers to spend more money in the ‘art industry’ – trusting that they will realise a healthy profit. This concept is largely promoted by auction houses and profit driven dealers who do not feel any responsibility towards maintaining a healthy and stable market. This approach is also not beneficial to living artists - whose livelihood depends on a stable market for their work, or the Masters market where a lot of hype around a particular collection or artist can result in unsustainable
high prices. One has to realise that the objective of any auction house is only to earn the most possible commission from every lot on every sale, where they have about 60 seconds to sell that particular lot. The actual price realised is less important to them as they rarely have to accept any responsibility for the result. Art must, however, be the cheapest pleasure available to anybody who does appreciate it. For the price of an overseas holiday or one year’s depreciation on a luxury car, you can acquire a valuable and unique work of art that will provide you with unlimited hours of pleasure for the rest of your life and that of whoever you pass it on to. The holding cost is minimal, no maintenance is required and should you ever decide to sell it, the capital gain is not taxable when privately owned in South Africa. The real investment value of art therefore lies in the quality it adds to our lives and the very accessible pleasure it affords us without any inhibiting ownership costs. Like any good asset acquired with the necessary care, thought and professional advice, art can also be an extraordinary investment and store of wealth in financial terms. This aspect should however not be the motivating factor to buy art, as it does not apply to every single work of art and requires a lot of research, knowledge and patience – characteristics usually found with most successful collectors. Market stability In comparison to other asset classes like shares and property, the monetary value of art is the most stable – as illustrated in the current performance of stock
markets and property prices versus the art market worldwide. The reasons for this are a combination of the following: 1. Unlike other assets, ‘the heart wills the mind’ when buying a work of art as there is a well defined passion involved – it is not just another ‘investment’ where an unemotional rational decision based purely on financial principles is concerned. 2. Art purchases are usually not financed – works are bought for cash by art lovers who can afford them. This inevitably means that it is highly unlikely that owners would come under pressure to sell, as there is no debt to service and we are dealing with people who know how to generate wealth (which enabled them to purchase it in the first instance). When art lovers do experience financial pressure, it is most likely that they will sell financed assets such as sports cars and holiday homes, but not the painting adorning their bedroom wall that they are so passionate and/or sentimental about. 3. The stability of the art market can also be attributed to the fact that it is a relatively small market with a very small percentage of the general population participating in it. At any given time a hand full of able buyers/collectors can ensure that it stays healthy and that prices are stable – in stark contrast to stock markets where panic selling can result in an investment’s value being halved (or devalued to even lower percentages as is currently the case) in a matter of weeks. International value From a South African perspective, where we have exchange control regulations in place regulating and limiting overseas investments, another factor has now started to influence the SA art market – the es-
tablishment of a proven market in London, pioneered by Bonhams auctioneers over the last 3 years. The international value of top SA art works has not yet been fully digested by the market and should prove to be a very useful stimulant in these uncertain times. Not only is this aspect a comforting idea, but it is also broadening the collector base for SA artworks which could lead to some very exciting developments as important museums and collectors get involved. Pitfalls In light of the above, there are a number of obvious pitfalls to watch out for when exchanging your hard earned cash for a work of art: 1. Run a mile when the ‘salesperson’ is focussing on the ‘investment’ potential of the work and not on its artistic merit and its success as a work of art by a reputable artist. 2. When starting out, with relatively little experience or knowledge, do not buy from mobile auctioneers who typically have their sales in warehouses and hotels. They are usually selling their own stock and you will be bidding against the cupboard in the corner, the driver and the auctioneer’s girlfriend in the back row until the price they are prepared to sell it at is reached. When you experience a problem with condition or authenticity afterwards, they may also prove very difficult to get hold of and the ‘fine print’ on the back of the registration card will most certainly make sure all the risk (and loss) will be for your account. 3. Do not buy paintings by the square cm – all artists have more, or less, desirable periods or subject matter and produced experimental works. Values may therefore differ dramatically for similar sized works by the same artist. 4. Rarity may often count against the value of an
artist’s work as it may be an uncharacteristic style or subject matter that would generally not be sought after by buyers of that artist’s work. Unique or experimental works are usually only of interest to collectors who like to cover a broader spectrum of a particular artist’s oeuvre. 5. Do not buy to ‘just get into the market’, as you may find it difficult to re-sell a mediocre work and the transactional costs can be punishing. Be patient – there will always be an opportunity to purchase the right quality at the right price. 6. Beware of fakes. With the current values of most well known SA artists works, fakes have become a real problem. Most criminals rely on uninformed or ignorant dealers and auctioneers to sell fakes, which in many cases are old paintings bought at household sales which have simply been altered with the signature of a desirable artist. SA legislation regarding fakes is not well defined and trying to get your money back may prove to be very difficult. Guidelines 1. Allow yourself enough time to educate yourself about the particular section of the art market you are interested in before you decide what you like and do not like. Nobody can judge caviar if they have only tasted hake before. 2. Frequent as many galleries, exhibitions and auctions as you can - without buying anything, until you feel comfortable about your ability to judge quality and value. This will mean that you are able to make an informed decision when considering a purchase. 3. Build up relationships with reputable galleries – professional gallerists are always willing to help educate serious art lovers and can always be approached for an opinion and advice. Be, however,
aware that every gallery has a particular focus and stable of artists that it promotes and may therefore be biased towards those artists. 4. Buy the very best work you can afford. This simple rule will mean that should you ever become a seller you won’t have any difficulty finding a buyer and will realise a better price because you own a desirable work which buyers will compete for. 5. Do not buy to speculate. In most mature markets you may be blacklisted by galleries if you merely buy work to sell for a quick profit at auction. The idea is to live with works of art that you find stimulating and enjoy and not to compete with galleries who put a lot of time, energy and money in promoting artist’s careers. 6. Educate yourself about the conservational aspects of the different art mediums and how they should be framed. Realise that moisture and the ultra violet in sunlight have the most damaging effects on any work of art. Make sure you use framers who understand and practice conservation framing – there are many horror stories of the values of wonderful works having been destroyed by ignorant framers. Inspect works on paper or any work framed behind glass out of the frame before purchasing it – staples, glue or double-sided tape may already have damaged the work and halved the value! 7. Enjoy the journey – collecting art is not a race! The fun lies in the search for that special piece that will take your breath away and make you shiver with excitement. You will encounter many interesting and some tempting works along the way, but buy with your heart and not your head. Johans Borman is the Director of Johans Borman Fine Art Gallery, Cape Town
Value judgments By Jo-Marie Rabe This article was first published in Personal Finance magazine, 2nd Quarter 2008. February 17, 2009 The ability to spot a bankable artist or piece of art is a gift very few possess. As for the majority of would-be collectors and investors, We consider what history and contemporary trends can teach us about the tricky relationship between aesthetic value and investment potential. For centuries, collecting art was the domain of institutions and wealthy individuals in search of rewards beyond the purely financial. The church was the single most important patron of the arts. For more than a thousand years, art had one purpose: to explain and glorify the invisible and immaterial realm of God. Artists were anonymous; they were artisans in the service of this greater ideal. By 1500 art had started to liberate itself, and the artist had found a name. Universal men such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Titian and Raphael realised their own talent and demanded recognition. And the world was ready for them. But even during that time, the church was still the main patron of the arts, and although laymen started to play a more dynamic role as collectors, artists still worked to commissions only. The idea of acquiring canvas, brush and paint, and creating art without the slightest idea for whom you were doing it, or for the sole purpose of your own artistic expression, had not entered the Renaissance mind. During the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries, the artist became the visual biographer of his time. A perfect rendering of reality was the challenge. By the last decades of the 19th century, all of this changed dramatically. Two of the factors responsible were the development of low-cost photographic equipment and the appearance of the commercial art dealer. George Eastman’s box camera, “Kodak”, was offered for sale for the first time in 1888. By 1900, he had reached the mass market with his “Brownie”. Suddenly, the artist as renderer of reality had become redundant – anyone could do it with the click of a button. One of the traditional functions of art had become obsolete. This caused immense unrest. Artists had to start looking within rather than without for inspiration. It heralded the birth of modernism in art. “Art is the expression of imagination, not the duplication of reality,” sculptor Henry Moore would exclaim later. At the same time, the commercial art dealer started to play a more important role in the world of art (which at that time meant Paris). The power of the state-sponsored salon system, which had for more that two centuries regulated exhibitions and the sale of art with an iron fist, was in decline. In the wake of this, many small art enterprises made their appearance along the streets and boulevards of Paris. This was a key moment in the history of painting, because in order to sell their art, the young entrepreneurs offered prospective buyers a new incentive: a return on their investment. An idea is born Selling art as an investment has an ironic early proponent. In 1903, the struggling French artist Henri Matisse informed a friend that he had come up with an idea to generate an alternative income from his paintings. His plan was to find 12 investors, who would each pay him 200 francs a year. In exchange for this, he would furnish them with two paintings a month. In itself, this proposal was not unique or particularly special. The history of art is littered with examples of artists engaged in complex, symbiotic, often even abusive relationships with a patron or patrons who took responsibility for their day-to-day expenses in exchange for works of art.
Matisse’s idea, however, had an interesting new twist to it. He intended to offer his art to this group on the grounds of its investment potential. He had envisaged that the 24 paintings would be exhibited and sold some years later (for what he hoped would be a profit). For Matisse, nothing came of this dream, but an idea was born, one that would change the way art was assessed and appreciated forever. Only one year later (1904), André Level, an astute French financier and a client of Matisse, persuaded 12 investors to contribute 212 francs each to an investment fund that would target an unusual new market: contemporary art. With ironic flair, Level called it La Peau de l’Ours (“The skin of the bear”), from the French expression il ne faut pas vendre la peau d’ours avant de l’avoir tué. Roughly translated, it has the same meaning as “don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched”. Between 1904 and 1914, the syndicate bought art by a group of relatively unknown artists that was shunned, neglected or ignored by the art establishment in Paris. They focused on paintings by Matisse, Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. While Level made the purchases, members of the syndicate were encouraged to display these modern works of art in their homes. In 1914 the entire collection was auctioned off at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris. The sale was an enormous success. Prices of up to 10 times the purchase price were achieved. The initial investment had quadrupled. The news travelled fast. Art as an alternative asset class, a commodity to trade, had arrived. At the same time that Level was acquiring paintings for his syndicate, a group of art collectors was building private collections of incredible importance. Among those who focused their attention on the same artists were the Americans Leo and Gertrude Stein, Albert C Barnes, and Claribel and Etta Cone, the Germans Count Harry Kessler and Karl-Ernst Osthaus, and the Russian billionaires Ivan Mozorov and Sergei Shchukin. They often bought works from the artists themselves, but a key figure – someone they trusted to identify, exhibit and sell to them “the next big name” – had appeared on the Paris art scene. He was a young art dealer called Ambroise Vollard (1866-1939). Talent-spotter extraordinaire Vollard would play a pivotal part in the aesthetic and commercial upheaval of the first decades of the 20th century. His brilliant career has been chronicled in a recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The accompanying book, called, like the exhibition, Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, patron of the avant-garde, is a constant testament to his uncanny ability for talent-spotting – an astute skill that cannot be taught. Vollard arrived in Paris in 1887. As the eldest son of a prominent Reunion family, it was fitting for him to go to the motherland to study law. He was an uninterested student, preferring rather to wander though the book stalls on the banks of the Seine looking for prints and drawings. According to his biographers, Vollard had a precocious visual sense and a collector’s instinct, even as a small boy living happily on his island paradise. He also was, as an outsider, free from the regulated, controlled, conservative and incredibly stifling influence of the powerful art salons. Vollard abandoned his studies in 1888, thereby forfeiting the allowance his father sent him. He wanted to be an art dealer, nothing else. Despite financial hardship, his business grew. Unable to buy the works of the established Impressionists, Vollard had to find
other ways to facilitate his dream. Vollard’s inventiveness and famously persuasive persona helped him to convince Madame Manet, Édouard Manet’s widow, to sell him the artist’s unfinished paintings and drawings. These he exhibited in his first gallery, situated at 37 rue Lafitte, in November 1894. The gallery was no more that a hole in a wall.
According to gallery owner and South African masters specialist Johans Borman, the reason there is so little real interest in art investment funds is obvious: people who spend their money on art want to live with it. “The local art market is driven by individual collectors, not corporate participation,” he asserts. As was the case centuries ago, art has indeed become one of the most recognisable trophies of success for the world’s wealthiest people.
The exhibition was a huge success for more than the obvious reasons. Vollard sold well, yes, but he also sold to the right people. Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) and Edgar Degas (1834-1917) came to the exhibition. Renoir became a life-long friend and mentor, and Degas a life-long client and supplier. In the early days of Vollard’s career, they also acted as advisers.
But there are other reasons why art investment funds are not performing to potential. To start with, it is almost impossible to forecast art prices, an exercise once described by American economist William Baumol as a “floating crap game”.
It was probably at their suggestion that Vollard offered Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) his first one-man show in 1895. Cézanne, already an old man by the time he met Vollard, had retreated to his native Aixen-Provence after repeated rebuffs by the established Parisian art world. Vollard later said about his initial meeting with Cézanne: “An innovator like Cézanne was considered a madman or an impostor ... On the spot ... I managed to buy 150 canvasses from him, almost his entire output ... I risked a great deal of money by doing that – everything I owned, my entire fortune, went into it. And I anxiously wondered whether my audacity might not turn out to be the ruin of me. I did not even have enough money left over to frame Cézanne’s canvasses decently.” This quote chronicles the development of a mad passion, but also points to the danger and chances that Vollard was willing to take in the course of his illustrious career. He loved to challenge the establishment. Indeed, it would become Vollard’s calling-card: identifying and promoting avant-garde talents who were misunderstood, disregarded and even despised by the establishment. “One goes to Vollard’s gallery to be shocked,” a contemporary commented. Besides Renoir, Degas and Cézanne, Vollard hosted one-man exhibitions for and represented the work of artists such as Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) and Paul Gauguin (1848-1903). Many of these artists are today considered to be the most important artists of their time and are even counted among the all-time great masters of art. For Vollard, Level and the collectors who bought these artists’ work, time has been their great corroborator: it turned out that they had made the right choices. Their experience with art proved enormously satisfying, but the “returns” on their “investment” differed. The speculators made a huge profit from selling their art, while the collectors benefited from keeping it. What we can learn Looking at the relationship between art and commerce in recent history might be interesting, but it does not help us to decide what art to invest in today. Or does it? Can we take some lessons from the past? I believe that it does, that despite the semblance of change, things often are the same below the surface. People are still people and art will always be art. As it happens, Level’s La Peau de l’Ours was not only the first art investment fund, it was also the last one to work well. Despite numerous international attempts to cash in on the art market boom, art investment funds have not lived up to their potential; they have more media appeal than real practitioners. Remember the recent Van Gogh advert for one of our premier fund management companies? The question is, does art form part of its portfolio of assets?
Despite academic attempts at art market analysis by heavyweights such as the Belgian economists Nathalie Buelens and Victor Ginsburgh, who looked at the prices of paintings between 1700 and 1961, and Jiangping Mei and Michael Moses, economists at New York University who developed the Mei Moses Fine Art index (based on the records of paintings with a previous auction history that Christie’s and Sotheby’s had sold since 1950), the truth is that it is impossible to predict the art market. First of all, it is extremely difficult to put an intrinsic value on art, and, in addition, the market is unregulated, it is fraught with variables and it is almost exclusively driven by emotion. Besides ego (which can be an exquisitely expensive indulgence at times), personal preference, taste and fashion play deciding roles in what will become the “next big thing” in the world of high art. For love or money Popular articles on the subject of art as an investment are plagued by platitudes. “Don’t buy art as an investment, rather buy what you like” is one that almost always comes up. The idea is that, should your investment turn out to be a dud, at least you have the pleasure of living with something that you like. I often wonder to whom this piece of advice is addressed. Here is a scenario: the investor is offered two pieces of art. One is dark, abstract, dense and difficult to understand, and our speculator does not really like it (he thinks). The other he finds a pleasant, beautiful and accessible painting – he feels this will be easy “to live with”. However, he is assured by the vendor that the first could yield 10 times the return on investment that the second painting could. Which one will he choose? He will choose the dense work that he did not understand or like initially, and then start believing in it (even passionately loving it) as soon as it is his. Because that is our nature. The investor did not buy with his eyes; he bought with his ears. He has successfully acquired a name by square-centimetre investment, not a piece of art. Second scenario: art lover, same paintings, same reaction (displeased by one but loves the other), same prediction (high predicted growth on the unappreciated work). The art lover will buy the one he likes, because that is his nature – he buys only what he loves in any case. So telling the art lover to buy art he loves is superfluous. To the investor, art is a commodity. For you, as a potential investor, a too-definite idea about what you “love” could literally stand in the way of your making a good profit. Of course, buying art you love and then having it grow in value is the ideal, but giving yourself a mandate that reflects your true objective will clear some of the fuzziness of the “buying what you love” sentiment. It is a case of “art-buyer, know thyself”. So, the point to remember about Level and the success of his syndicate is their clear mandate to themselves: buy to sell. Personal preference aside,
they focused on the profitability aspect of their acquisitions. In short, they did not necessarily buy what they liked. That was not the point of the purchase! The point was making money. The success of this venture was based on business acumen and sound advice, not the impassioned fervour of the die-hard collector.
It’s auction night. I am on my way to my car. A guy I have never seen or met shows me a work of art he has just bought. “Do you like my painting?” he asks me before he puts it in his car boot. He is desperate for me to say yes. He has just paid R180 000 for it. “The market kept running away from me and I had to get in, I just had to ...”
“Buy the best you can afford” is another of those fuzzy “truths”. Like all other sectors of the investment market, the art world has its blue chips. Currently, almost any of the Zanzibar paintings by Irma Stern is sure to yield a high return. But for these works the entry level is prohibitively high.
So, is art a good investment? Yes it is, provided you buy right. Art is a high-risk niche investment sector and should form part of a larger, more comprehensive portfolio. Take some advice from the biggest art buyer currently active in Europe, His Serene Highness Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, Europe’s fourth-smallest country: it is good business policy to invest surplus cash in art. Not your salary, but “surplus cash” – an interesting notion to most of us.
So, to those with a bit of “spare cash”, what to do? What is “the best you can afford”? Do you buy a bad work by a high-yielding artist (too many of those around) or a brilliant work by someone who has yet to prove his or her worth on an auction floor? Even for those investors/collectors who are in the privileged position to be able to buy at the very top end, there are still many things to consider. To those who intend to sell again, buying at the top would probably mean that you will have to wait a while before putting it on the market again. Art as an investment should in any case be seen as a mediumto long-term investment. Another factor to consider is that a paper-trail makes for good returns. Pieces with a known history or those that have previously belonged to famous collectors always have a better chance of surviving market trends than those without. An example of how important provenance is can be found in the auction results achieved by a collection of South African art that was sold by Stephan Welz & Company in association with Sotheby’s a year ago. Jack and Helene Kahn had put together their collection over a period of 50 years. The Kahns were true art lovers and could not bear to part with these precious works. The collection was sold posthumously. All the lots were sold, nine new artists’ records were established, five works sold for over R1 million each and the highest price ever paid for a South African painting was achieved: The Indian woman sold for R7.26 million. “The final total was a spectacular R23 945 300, three times the pre-sale estimate,” I read on the post-sale press release. If the art world is under the influence of emotion, single-owner sales are the drunken brawls of the industry. All the rules are broken and all hell breaks loose. This is a pattern that is repeated over time, genres and continents. We love that which has a proven record of having been loved before. The Kahn collection has set new benchmarks, but some of those have already been surpassed. After the Kahn sale the questions on everyone’s minds were the same: is the art market in a bubble? Can these prices be sustained? Is there more growth potential? Well, like all good answers there is a yes and no to consider. As far as the blue-chip items (those iconic pieces that represent the best of a genre or the oeuvre of an individual artist) are concerned, many feel the market has not reached a pinnacle at all. “In terms of international prices, our best art is still undervalued,” Borman says. It is the middle market that seems to be precarious. “Bad” works by “good” artists are unsold, and mediocre artists fetch mediocre prices. So if there is some sort of bubble, this middle of the market is probably the area that will be affected should it burst. But rather than a bubble, the South African art world seems to be caught in a frenetic feeding frenzy. Specialist advice essential
To buy “well”, information and good advice are paramount for success. Investing in art means investing in your own aesthetic, but there is more to it than that. Getting to know the market is incredibly important. Study, look, learn and get an adviser. Nobody in their right mind decides on a blue Monday to invest their money on the stock market and then phones the JSE, books a telephone line and starts bidding ferociously! But this is exactly what people do with art. Like the world of shares, stocks and bonds, the art world is a minefield that has to be negotiated with great care. If financial return is the aim, do what you would do if you decided to play the stock exchange: find a broker. Having an art dealer, a curator or an art consultant at your disposal means that you can rely on someone who knows the art and artists, can read the trends, assess the nuances and can give informed advice on what to look out for or avoid. The role of the specialist art adviser has been important since the time of Vollard and his contemporaries. In today’s art market, it is an imperative. The art adviser has become indispensable. Even Prince Hans-Adam acknowledges this: “Sometimes I do not like the piece or I think the price is too high, and sometimes I like the piece and I would pay a very high price, but I am not an art expert myself. Therefore I am very glad to have an excellent advisory board, which usually succeeds in convincing me to take the right decision.” And why exactly is it ironic that the idea of art as an investment was thought up by an artist? Well, because artists do not create art for the sake of investment; they create it to communicate emotion. And artists are rarely the ones who benefit when art prices go through the roof. The “droit de suite” is a movement that intends to rectify this: the scheme aims to secure a share of the revenue from sales after the initial sale for the creator of the work. It is controversial, but they argue that if most other art forms benefit from royalties earned, why can the creators of visual art not benefit from subsequent sales of their work. I say Hear! Hear! And on this note: as to the question of what to buy – the old masters or young, living, contemporary artists? Buy the old masters by all means, but also invest some of your time and money on the living. Because by buying the work of a young artist you give him or her a mandate to keep creating. Most artists can work only if they sell their art. With your financial support, you might be nurturing the next Cézanne, Pollock, Stern or Dumas.
Jo-Marie Rabe is a cultural historian and co-owns Piér Rabe Antiques in Stellenbosch.
SOUTH AFRICAN ART GALLERY LISTINGS
East London Ann Bryant Art Gallery Until 3 Apr, ABSA L’Atelier Awards Regional Exhibition; 25 Apr9 May, Anything but painting, East London Fine Art Society exhibition. 9 St Marks Road, Southernwood, East London T. 043 722 4044, email@example.com
Titus Matiyane. University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park Kingsway campus cnr Kingsway and Universiteits Rd, Auckland Park T. 011 559 2099/2556 Warren Siebrits Modern & Contemporary Art Until 8 May, Main Gallery Joburg Art Fair exhibition. 140 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg, T. 011 327 0000 www.warrensiebrits.co.za
Port Elizabeth Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum Until 5 Apr, Beyond the Documentary Photograph, Contemporary South African Photography, curated by Heidi Erdmann & Jacob Lebeko 1 Park Drive, Port Elizabeth, Tel. (041) 506 2000 www.artmuseum.co.za
Avant Car Guard Avant Car Guard are putting up a new exhibition. Mary Corrigall meets with the irreverent group and discovers that they prize freedom over convention
The Avant Car Guard (ACG) collective are not ideal candidates for an interview. For starters Zander Blom, Michael McGarry and Jan-Henri Booyens, the trio that constitute this irreverent group, are on a quest to undermine and interrogate the mechanics that drive the art world and interviewing is, after all, part of the machinery that elevates the artist, promulgating the status of the artist-genius. But it’s not just that ACG eschew the artist-genius tag and culture but they have already satirised the ubiquitous press interview in their work – long before they found themselves at the centre of attention. Titled Avant Car Guard at Home 1996 the trio are photographed seated at a table in front of microphones. Of course, a number of elements disrupt this miseen-scène; the suburban garden in the background and the date in the title; in 1996 the trio were presumably still students. It’s not that they foretold their future but rather were representing the typical artist-genius narrative in which the artist is cast as a genius in retrospect. Our interview will no doubt cement their status too but it plays out under different conditions. Held up in Pretoria Booyens is absent and taking place at an outdoor café in Joburg it doesn’t resemble the constructed or artificial process their art work references. Blom and McGarry are here to promote ACG’s up and coming solo at Whatiftheworld gallery in Cape Town but they also seem to relish the opportunity to expand on ACG’s ethos, which they say is so often adumbrated by the unruly nature of their art. “We have kind of wanted to resist becoming the art world’s entertainment. We are always referred to as quirky, rabble-rousers; very few people engage with what we are saying,” notes McGarry. The art of ACG has been compelled by a number of different ideas since they launched Volume I at Bell Roberts in December 2006. Though they found notoriety quickly with their derisive attacks on the South African art world, a period Blom terms their “bitchy phase”, their initial impetus was driven by a desire to destabilise notions of authorship. It wasn’t just a clichéd postmodern/Foucaultian compulsion; they genuinely couldn’t see themselves following the archetypal artist career path that would involve producing serious solo exhibitions every two years. “You kind of feel like you are being cheated when you get caught in that cycle. There is no space to have fun. You make a whole bunch of shit and then you have product, it gets shown and then you make more shit. There is little fun in that,” observes Blom. Experimenting in the context of a residency didn’t appeal to the trio either. “That form of art making is also really lame because it doesn’t really deliver anything. Even in a residency where you put a whole lot of people together, you will find that everyone still want to put their own stamp on what you produce. It is cool to develop one thing,” asserts Blom. ACG is like the product of an advertising or brand campaign, in which a team of people develop a powerful identity that is distinct from their own, they suggest. “There is a branding and a concept that we work towards it’s an independent thing,” says Blom. Nevertheless Blom and McGarry are quick to assert that while ACG’s identity is independent of them, its essence is tied to them; in other words if one of them had to leave the collective, ACG would cease to exist. Being part of ACG has freed them from the conven-
David Krut Projects Until 4 Apr, Hidden noise, curated by Phil Sandres, Master printer at the Robert Blackburn Workshop, and includes work by Glen Baldridge, Alex Dodge, Joseph Hart, Jason Jagel, Phil Sanders and Tatiana Simonova. Until 25 Apr, Collaborations, etchings by Deborah Bell. 142 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg T. 011 447 0627 www.davidkrutpublishing.com Everard Read Gallery Jhb Until 19 Apr, The Great South African Nude, paintings and sculptures by various Everard Read Artists, 6 Jellicoe Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg T. 011 788 4805 www.everard.co.za Gallery AOP Until 15 Apr, New etchings, monotypes and watercolours by Robert Hodgins. 18 Apr-16 May, Drawings by Walter Battis. 44 Stanley Ave, Braamfontein Werf (Milpark), Tel. (011) 726 2234 www.artonpaper.co.za Gallery MOMO Until 14 Apr, The return of the man behind, Multi-disciplinary work by Rodney Place;Ransome Stanley, In touch, Solo exhibition of paintings. 26-30 Apr, Art Beijing 2009, in collaboration with IFAS and CULTURESFRANCE: The Encounters of Bamako. 16 Apr-11 May, group show. 52 7th Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg T.011 327 3247 www.gallerymomo.com
tions that their individual expression is unable to afford them. “We can say stuff with Avant Car Guard that we can’t and don’t necessarily want to say with our own stuff and because there are three of us the blame or the authorship is diluted. It’s also a bit lame to do that stuff by yourself,” says McGarry. Working as a collective has had an impact not only on ACG’s aesthetic but their process too. “It is a fast way of working; an idea happens quickly or goes away quickly, whereas if you are working by yourself you get stuck. You learn not to be precious. And you learn to take the piss out of yourself,” observes Blom. The immediacy of their conceptual process obviously made photography an automatic choice as their primary mode of expression. Using a timer they take all their own pictures. “It makes it more difficult but it makes our art more peformative in a way,” suggests McGarry. “We prefer it to do it ourselves because we have grown used to being comfortable with just the three of us, the space between sitting and running has also created an effect,” proposes Blom. Volume III, the title of their up-and-coming Whatiftheworld exhibition, will see the trio expand their distinctive idiom into the realm of painting. “With the photographs we were always acting out some scenario, we would mimic an idea. In the painting we are not mimicking some situation we are working directly (with the subject),” says Blom. “The process is totally different; we are perhaps acting out what a normal artist does,” comments McGarry He also suggests that painting has developed the ACG aesthetic into a less figurative and one dimensional form of expression. “Volume II was very much like looking at the art world and doing one liner cell based cartoon things that are activated by the title. We only directly attacked anyone with the “Berni Seal” (in reference to Berni Searle) photograph, but this show is very much about attacking the icons, its bigger and more fun. Not as one dimensional, the paintings are more lyrical and abstract,” says McGarry. Despite their overt attempts at challenging the art world they have no desire to transform it; Blom and McGarry say they derive pleasure simply from creating satirical work. “In a micro way in terms of how we are read as individuals or what young contemporary practice is, I think that we have changed the way we see it. If we did our solo work without Avant Car Guard it would be death,” observes McGarry. Nevertheless, they don’t deny they have had an impact. “It is difficult to imagine the art world without us,” says McGarry. But it’s not a comment born from arrogance; he suggests that “anybody could have been us we ended up being us, it’s healthy and it’s a sign that the hegemony that was around has relaxed. There are a lot more younger galleries and that power dynamic that was in place is no longer there anymore and you can shit on big names and nothing really happens anymore.” • Volume III opens at Whatiftheworld Gallery in Cape Town on March 26
Gallery on the Square 1-14 April, group show, including (mis)adventure art collective, Mapula embroidery project. 32 Maude Street, Nelson Mandela Square at Sandton City, Sandton, Johanesburg. T.(011) 784 2847 www.galleryonthesquare.co.za Alliance Francaise, Johannesburg Until 2 Apr, The Gautrain Constructivism & Urbanism, exhibition by Patric de Mervelec. 17 Lower Park Drive (corner of Kerry Road),Parkview, Johannesburg. T. 011 646 1169 www.alliance.org.za Goethe Institute For Apr, Shebeen Blues, photography by Ananias Léki Dago. 119 Jan Smuts Ave, Entrance on New Port Road, Parkwood. T. 011 4423232 www.goethe.de/ins/za Goodman Gallery Until 25 Apr, Jeremy Wafer; 30 Apr - 23 May, Peter Friedl. 163 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg, T. 011 788 1113 www.goodman-gallery.com Kliptown Art Project From 28 Mar, Guard on Shift, Open Air Installation by Sue Pam-Grant & Xoli Norman. Battery Centre, Kliptown, Soweto. www.jozi-artlab.co.za Nirox Foundation and Goodman Gallery Until 5 Jun, Contemporary Sculpture in the Landscape, various artists, at the Cradle of Humankind. Contact the Goodman Gallery for viewing and walkabouts, by appointment only. T. 011 788 1113 www.goodman-gallery.com GordArt Gallery GordArt Gallery (main Space) Until 04 Apr, sculptural works and Found objects, Sarel Petrus and Edzard Du Plessis; 18 Apr-9 May, Debbie Cloete. GordArt Project Room (Upstairs) Until 04 Apr, Kirsten Watson, works in mixed media. 18 Apr-9 May, Stompie Selebi. Shop 1 Parkwood Mansions, 144 Jan Smuts Ave, Parkwood, TF 011 880 5928 firstname.lastname@example.org Graham Fine Art Gallery South African Investment Art, From the permanent collection; Auction of the Brett Kebble art collection: viewing: 16 Apr - 1 May. Shop 31, Broadacres Lifestyle Centre, Cnr. Valley & Cedar Roads Fourways, Johannesburg. T.011 465 9192 www.grahamsgallery.co.za Johannesburg Art Gallery Until 7 Jun, For Tshepo, Ten Years Later, Mphapho “Ra” Hlasane, Artist at the Nando’s Project Room #4. King George Street, Joubert Park, Johannesburg T. 011 725 3180 www.joburg.org.za Obert Contemporary at Melrosearch 1-15 Apr, Off the reservation, John Vlismas. 14 The High Street, Melrose Arch, T. 011 684 1214 www.obertcontemporary.com Rabbi Cyril Harris Community Centre Until 5 Apr, Pieter Van der Westhuizen, exhibition of works. Cnr. Glenhove Rd & 4th Street Houghton, East of the M1. T. 011 728 8088 Resolution Until 7 Apr, Small Worlds: Rail technology, nostalgia and South African landscape, by Wits School of the Arts Head of Digital Arts Christo Doherty. 142 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg T. 011 880 4054 www.resolutiongallery.com Rooke Gallery Until 01 May, The Travels of Bad, Major Solo Exhibition and publication by Zander Blom. By Appointment, The Newtown, 37 Quinn Street Newtown Johannesburg. T. 072 658 0762 www.rookegallery.co.za Standard Bank Gallery Main Gallery, 14 Apr - 23 May, Past/Present, Andrew Verster. Art & Artifact Gallery, 14 Apr - 23 May, Eduardo Villa Miniatures. Cnr. Simmonds & Frederick Streets, Johannesburg, 2001 Tel: 011 631 1889 www.standardbankgallery.co.za Seippel Gallery Mbongeni Richman Buthelezi, Cedric Nunn, Bonile Bam, Jurgen Schadeberg, Pierre Crocquet, Andrew Tshabangu. August House, 76-82 End Street, Doornfontein. T. 011 401 1421 www.seippel-gallery.com The Art Place, Gallery & Art Centre 4 Apr–2 May, All Things Bright & Beautiful, features all media by leading floral artists & painted ceramics. 144 Milner Ave,Roosevelt Park, T 011 888-9120 University of Johannesburg Arts Centre Gallery Until 15 Apr, Cities of the World, solo exibition of drawings by
02-03 May, Autumn Art Route, The artists of this quirky, creative Overberg hamlet throw open their rural studios to the public for the weekend. Visitors are invited to meander between the very individual spaces, 10am -5pm, enjoying art, craft, pastoral bliss and refreshing country hospitality. 028 3819636/083 4442613 www.baardskeerdersbosartroute.comCape Town Cape Town 34 Long Until 11 April, Tears and Castles, mixed media, Motel 7, debut solo exhibition. Until 16 May, Prehistoric idols, works by Paul du Toit. 34 Long Street, Cape Town T. 021 426 4594, www.34long.com
David Brown Fine Art Until 18 Apr, recent abstract paintings by Aurora Wolpe. 39 Keyes Ave,off Jellicoe, Rosebank, Johannesburg. T. 011 788 4435 www.davidbrownfineart.co.za
William Humphreys Art Gallery Permanent Collection Exhibition - Includes works of a variety of contemporary SA artists Civic Centre, Cullinan Crescent, Kimberley, T. 053 831 1724, www.museumsnc.co.za
Bloemfontein Oliewenhuis Art Museum Until 08 April,Transitions, Travelling Exhibition and film, by Paul Emmanuel. 22 Apr-24 May, Decade,Highlights from 10 years of collecting from the Sanlam Art Collection. 16 Harry Smith Street, Bloemfontein T. 051 447 9609
Artspace - JHB 1-25 Apr, Justice, Just Us, Just Icing: print and mixed media solo exhibition by Philippa Levitt. Chester Court, 142 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg. T. 011 880 8802 www.artspace-jhb.co.za Brodie/Stevenson Until 25 Apr, Self/Not Self, a two-part curated exhibition that explores modes of self-representation across a range of contemporary art practices. Pieter Hugo, Lunga Kama, Anton Kannemeyer, Nandipha Mntambo, Zanele Muholi, Serge Alain Nitegeka,Tracy Payne, Berni Searle and Lerato Shadi. 373 Jan Smuts Avenue, Johannesburg T. 011 326 0034, www.artextra.co.za
The South African Art Information Directory 09 is now available at wwww.saaid.co.za at R 169,-
Pretoria Alette Wessels Kunskamer Exhibition of Old Masters and selected leading contemporary artists. Maroelana Centre, Maroelana. GPS : S25º 46.748 EO28º 15.615 T. 012 346 0728 C. 084 589 0711 www.artwessels.co.za Centurion Art Gallery Art Gallery collection of works. T. 012 358 3477 www.pretoriaartmuseum.co.za Fried Contemporary Art Gallery Until 11 Apr, Heart, Lianna Loubser, Tshepo Setshwidi, Marli de Weerdt, Sybran Wiechers. 18 Apr-16 May, Four women and a man, Ruhan Janse van Vuuren, Anna Gous, Jackie Schoombie, Marina Aucamp, Esme Kruger. 430 Charles Str, Brooklyn, Pretoria T. 012 346 0158 www.friedcontemporary.com Naude Modern Until 22 Apr, 180 Degrees, inaugural exhibition by Andre Naude 254a St Patrick’s Road, Muckleneuk Ridge, Pretoria, T. 012 440 2201 www.art.co.za/andrenaude Pretoria Art Museum PAM - North Gallery PAM - Henry Preiss Hall, until 19 Apr, Kilimanjaro in relation to global warming: origins of the Rift – ordered chaos to a disordered present PAM - Albert Werth Hall, until 19 Apr, Africa Rifting/ Bloodlines PAM - East Gallery, until 22 Jun, from the Museum’s Permanent Collection,Artists from Polly Street and Rorke’s Drift T.012 344 1807/8 email@example.com Pretoria Association of Arts Main Gallery, Until 9 Apr, St Sebastian. Until 9 Apr, Rina Stutzer. 19 Apr-7 May, Jaco Benade & M J Lourens. 24 April to 13 May, Galerie Chaton / Black Box, Mimi van der Merwe. 173 Mackie Street, New Muckleneuk, Pretoria, Gauteng, 0181, Tel. (012) 346 3100 www.artsassociationpta.co.za UNISA Art Gallery Until 08 May, Then and now, Images by 8 SA Photographers: Graeme Williams, Gisele Wulfsohn, Paul Weinberg, Eric Miller, George Hallett, David Goldblatt, Guy Tillim and Cedric Nunn. Theo van Wijk Building, Goldfields entrance, 5th floor. Unisa Campus, Pretoria. T.012 429 6823 www.unisa.ac.za/gallery
KWAZULU-NATAL Durban Artisan Contemporary Until 4 Apr, Lost Girl, an exhibition of works on canvas by Victoria Verbaan 344 Florida Rd, Morningside, T. 031 312 4364 firstname.lastname@example.org Art Space - DBN April: ABSA L’Atelier Regional Competition entries. Until 18 Apr, YEStoDAY, Sculpture by Gerald Baise in the Main Gallery. Shadow Dance, paintings by Greg Bauermeister in the Middle Gallery. 20 Apr-9 May, Nic Crooks 3 Millar Road, Durban. T.031 312 0793 www.artspacedurban.co.za Bank Gallery and Durban Art Gallery Imaging South Africa, Durban Art Gallery, Until 26 Apr, Stamps & Newspapers, collection projects by Siemon Allen. 23 Apr- 28 May, Situation, works by Vaughn Sadie at the Bank Gallery. Bank Gallery, Morningside, Durban T. 031 312 6911, www. bankgallery.co.za Durban Art Gallery, Second Floor, City Hall, Smith Street, Durban T. 031 300 6238 Durban Art Gallery Until 17 May, Not Alone, an international project of Make Art-Stop Aids, curated by Carol Brown and David Gere. Until Dec 2009, Pic(k) Of The DAG, South African works from the gallery’s Permanent Collection. Second Floor, City Hall, Anton Lembede Street, Durban T. 031 311 2268 Kizo Until 26 Apr, An exhibition of mixed media works by Lara Mellon, Maggie Strachan, Joan Martin, Lesley MagwoodFraser and Rene Leslie. Shop G350 Palm Boulevard Gateway Theatre of Shopping Umhlanga T. 031 566 4322 www.kizo.co.za KZNSA Gallery Until 19 Apr, Harbour, group show by various artists, curated by Brenton Maart: the expression of containment in contemporary SA Art. Until 19 Apr, All eyes in African, new works by Mbhekeni Mbili. 21 Apr-10 May, KZNSA Members professional practice course exhibition, Liam Lynch. Until 20 May, ‘Not Alone - An international project of Make Art/Stop Aids’ includes works by artists from Brazil, the USA, India and South Africa in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, photography and embroidery. 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood, T. 031 2023686, www.kznsagallery.co.za Tatham Art Gallery Schreiner Gallery: Until 3 May, Zotha Shange, Rolling Ball Sculpture exhibition; Ceramics Room: Curriculum Curricula exhibition - Ceramics and Applied arts, exhibition extended. Until 10 May, Main Exhibition Room, KZN Matric Art Exhibition. Cnr. Of Chief Albert Luthuli (Commercial) Rd. and Church Street, Pietermaritzburg. T. 033 342 1804 www.tatham.org.za Shongweni Studio, Andrew Walford, Potter 10-13 Apr, Hot Pots and Hot Cross buns, Easter Exhibition by potter Andrew Walford at the Shongweni Studio, Shongweni Valley. B9, Zig Zag Farm, Shongweni T. 031 769 1363/082 794 7796 email@example.com
MPUMALANGA Casterbridge White River Gallery Until 10 Apr, Wilma Cruise. CASTERBRIDGE Lifestyle Centre, Cnr. Numbi + R40 Hazyview White River T. 082 553 8919.
APRIL 09 | BUSINESS ART
1st Floor, Olympia Buildings, 136 Main Road Kalk Bay. T.021 788 6571 firstname.lastname@example.org Lindy van Niekerk Art Gallery Exhibition of SA’s leading artists. 31 Kommandeur Road, Welgemoed, Belville T. 021 913 7204/5 www.artpro.co.za Kunst House Until 18 Apr, Edges - an exploration of meeting points, works by Fiona Ewan Rowett. 62 Kloof Street, Gardens, T. 021 422 1255 www.kunsthouse.co.za Michael Stevenson Contemporary Until 9 Apr, In Boksburg, David Goldblatt; Recent Prints by Claudette Schreuders. 16 Apr-30 May, Works by Penny Siopis and Nandipha Mntambo. Ground Floor, Buchanan Building, 160 Sir Lowry Road, Cape Town, T. 021 462 1500 www.michaelstevenson.com Muti Gallery 3 Vredehoek Avenue, Oranjezicht, T. 021 465 3551 email@example.com Rust-en-Vrede Until 30 Apr, Landscapes in oil by Brahm van Zyl. 10 Wellington Road, Durbanville. T. 021 976 4691 www.rust-en-vrede.com
3RD i Gallery Until 24 Apr, Liquid Swords: Slices of Lemon, Solo painting exhibition by Leon Botha. 95 Waterkant Street, De Waterkant. T. 021 425 2266
Salon91 Contemporary Until 20 April, Lovecity, A collection of drawings, prints and wallpaper designs by Lorenzo Nassimbeni; 22 Apr-10 May, Through the looking glass, Mixed Media paintings by Dagmar Sissolak. 91 Kloof Street, Gardens, Cape Town 021 424 6930 www.salon91art.co.za
Alliance Française Until 20 Apr, Lomographic Itineraries, photography exhibition by Aurelie Bieswesch 155 Loop Street, Cape Town. T. 021 4235699 www.alliance.org.za
South Gallery showcasing creativity from Kwazulu-Natal; For April, Ardmore Ceramic Art. Fairweather House, 176 Sir Lowry Road Woodstock, Ground Floor. T. 021 465 4672 firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex Hamiltion Art Studio 8 Apr-8 May, Afrotize, is a new series of pop art, stenciled works by Cape Town artist, Alex Hamilton. Unit B203, 2nd floor, Woodstock Industrial Centre, 66-68 Albert Road Woodstock, T. 021 447 2396 www.alexhamilton.co.za
Urban Contemporary Art Until 02 May, The exploits of the incomparable Shamila, works by Christopher Slack. 46 Lower Main Road, Observatory, Cape Town T. 021 447 4132, www.urbancontemporaryart.co.za
Art B Gallery Until 14 Apr, ABSA L’Atelier Regional Competition entries. Library Centre, Carel van Aswegen Street, Bellville T. 021 918 2301, www.artb.co.za Artist’s Gallery Until 4 Apr, solo exhibition of recent photographic images captured in the Western Cape by Michel le Sueur. 36 St George’s Street, Simonstown, T. 021 786 5952 Association for Visual Arts (AVA) Until 30 Apr, Social Pattern, Lynette Bester, Kevin Brand, Paul Cooper, Paul Edmunds, Justin Fiske, Carol-Anne Gainer, Bronwyn Lace, Fritha Langerman, Kim Lieberman, Vaughn Sadie, Fabain Saptou, Rowan Smith, Greg Streak, Cobus van Bosch Curated by Kirsty Cockerill. 35 Church Street, Cape Town, T. 021 424 7436, www.ava.co.za Atlantic Art Gallery A permanent display showcasing leading contemporary South African artists. 25 Wale Street Cape Town, T. 021 423 5775 Bell-Roberts Contemporary Art Gallery Until 11 Apr, Coming from Where I’m From, Paintings by Fahamu Pecou; 176 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, T. 021 465 9108 www.bell-roberts.com Cape Gallery Until 4 Apr, Shadow Boxes, an exhibition of new paintings, etchings and constructions by Judy Woodborne and ceramics by Wiebke von Bismarck. 26 Apr-16 May, New paintings in oil and etchings by Diane Johnson-Ackerman and Marilyn Southey. 60 Church Street, Cape Town, T. 021 423 5309 www.capegallery.co.za Cape Town School of Photography From 1 Apr, Nostalgia - the passing of time, Exhibition of Student work. 4th Floor, 62 Roeland Street, Cape Town, T. 021 4652152 www.ctsp.co.za Christopher MǾller Art Until 8 Apr, Three Perspectives, Group exhibition featuring Geoff Burr, Alan McKerron and David Porter. 82 Church Street, Cape Town, T. 021 439 3517 www.christophermollerart.co.za Curious, Whetstone & Frankley 01-18 Apr,Kelp, children, women and growing up: mixed media illustrations,by Colwyn Thomas 87 Station Road, Observatory www.curiouswhetstoneandfrankley.com Erdmann Contemporary /Photographers Gallery Until 18 Apr, The World Needs Me, new paintings, sculpture and photography by Norman O’Flynn. 63 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town T. 021 422 2762 www.erdmanncontemporary.co.za Everard Read Gallery - Cape Town 1-14 April, One Summer in Cape Town, recent paintings by Nick Botting. Until 1 May, New painings by Ed hodgkinson. Portswood Rd, V&A Waterfront T. 021 418 4527 www.everard-read-capetown.co.za Exposure Gallery For April, You are here, photography by Tom Buchanan. The Old Biscuit Mill, 373 Albert Road, Woodstock. T. 021 447 4124 www.exposuregallery.co.za Focus Contemporary, Fine Young Art Until 25 Apr, Cold Sweat, works by Christiaan Diedericks. 2 Long Street Cape Town, T. 021 419 8888, www.focuscontemporary.co.za Gallery F Until 30 Apr, Exhibita - New Landscapes (Photography) by Jonathan Taylor May-June, The spirit of District 6 collection, photography by Cloete Breytenbach. 221 Long Street, Cape Town, T. 021 422 5246 www.galleryf.co.za Gallery Odes For April, The Unbearable likeness of seeing; by Gordon Clark The Old Biscuit Mill, 357 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town T. 021 423 4687 www.gordonclark.co.za Gill Allderman Gallery Until 15 Apr, Art Sale, established and emerging fine artists. 278 Main Road, Kenilworth, Cape Town T. 083 556 2540 www.gillalldermangallery.co.za Goodman Gallery, Cape Until 25 Apr, Nation State, curated by Storm Janse van Rensburg. 3rd Floor, Fairweather House, 176 Sir Lowry Road Woodstock, Cape Town T. 021 462 7573/4, www.goodmangallerycape.com Hello Again 1-30 Apr, In No Particular Order, group show featuring Michaela Jansen, Dylan Jones, Bruce Mackay, Jess Olivier, Johan Truter and Michael Tymbios. 44 Bloem Street, Cape Town, T. 021 426 0242 Irma Stern Museum 22 Apr-9 May, Exodus, works by Roxandra Dardagan Britz. Cecil Road, Rosebank, Cape Town T. 021 685 5686 www.irmastern.co.za Iziko - South African National Gallery 1 Apr-14 Jun, The Tropics, Views from the middle of the globe; Until Jul 09, Scratches on the Face. Until 10 May, Wonderland: Nontsikelelo Veleko, Standard Bank Young Artist 2008; Until end May, What We See. Voice, Image and Versioning, at the Iziko Slave Lodge; 6 Apr - 28 Jun, ‘Dis-ease’, a collection of recent video art drawn from the Rijksakademie archives, Curated by Greg Streak. Government Avenue, Company’s Garden T. The 021 467 4660, www.iziko.org.za João Ferreira Gallery 8 Apr-1 May, works by David Brown. 70 Loop Street,Cape Town, T. 021 423 5403 www.joaoferreiragallery.com Kalk Bay Modern 15 Apr-15 May,Paintings and Prints by Nicolaas Maritz.
The South African Print Gallery From 26 Apr, , Prints by Sam Nhlengethwa and Friends. 107 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, Cape Town, T. 021 462 6851 www.printgallery.co.za What if the World… Until 25 Apr, Volume III, Large-scale paintings, editioned works and a limited edition publication, by Avant Car Guard. First floor, 208 Albert Road Woodstock T. 021 448 1438 www.whatiftheworld.com Franschoek Gallery Grande Provence Until 15 Apr, Viewpoints, Paintings and Drawings by Louis Van Heerden. Main Road Franschoek, T. 021 876 8600 www.grandeprovence.co.za Galerie L’ Art Until 11 Apr, Diversity, Solo Art Exhibition by Johannes du Plessis. Shop no 3, The Ivy, Krugerstreet, Franschoek T. 021 876 2497 www.galart.co.za Tulbagh Kismet Kamal Gallery Until end April, 4 Women, works by Rochelle Beresford, Thea Smith, Petro Shingalala, Annette Du Plessis. Epicentre, Van der Stel/Church Street, Tulbagh, T. 023 232 0822 Knysna Knysna Art Gallery Until 17 Apr, The Knysna River Red Bridge Exhibition, oils, watercolours & mixed media, solo exhibition by Sally Bekker. The Old Gaol, Cnr. Queen & Main Str.’s, Knysna, 6570,T. 044 382 7124 www.knysnafinearts.co.za Knysna Fine Art Until Apr 10, Exhibition of works by Keith Joubert; 01-08 May, The Tattoo Show. 8 Grey Street Knysna, T.044 382 5107 www.finearts.co.za Plettenberg Bay Upper Deck Gallery From 8 Apr, exhibition featuring the work of Raymond Andrews, Sibley McAdam, Claire Denarie Soffieti, Marieke Prinsloo and local artist David Butler. The Upper Deck lifestyle centre, 3 Strand Street, Plettenberg bay. T. 044 533 6914 www.upperdeckgallery.co.za George Strydom Gallery 5-3 Apr, Nothing new: artworks on art; A Selection of South African artists, inclduing Hennie Meyer,Christina Bryer, Annette Pretorius, Jacobus Kloppers, Lien Botha, Hardy Botha, Nel Erasmus, Andries Botha , Anton Karstel, Johann Louw, Leon Vermeulen, Guy du Toit, Santu Mofokeng, Norman Catherine, William Kentridge, Robert Hodgins, Mary-Rose Hendrikse, Louise Linder, David Brown, Carl Roberts, Simon Stone Francine Greenblatt, Gert Swart, Kate Gottgens and Diane Victor. Marklaan Centre, 79 Market Street, George, T. 044 874 4027. www.artaffair.co.za Stellenbosch Dorp Straat Gallery Until Apr 23, Stillewe, an exhibition by Varenka Paschke and book launch by singer/writer Stef Bos. 144 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch T. 021 887 2256 www.dorpstraatgalery.co.za Red Black and White Until 09 Apr, Half-Mens/Heel-Mens, Shany Van Den Berg 18 Apr - 09 May, Brotherhood 2009 curated by Johann du Plessis. 5a Distillery Road, Bosman’s Crossing, Stellenbosch. T. 021 886 6281 www.redblackandwhite.co.za University of Stellenbosch Art Gallery Until 16 Apr, works from the film Agenda, by Marinda Du Toit. Stellenbosch University, cnr of Bird and Dorp Streets, Stellenbosch T. 021 808 3489 www.sun.ac.za/artgallery SMAC Art Gallery Until 10 May, Locations, works by Jonathan Guaitamacchi; Until 10 May, Echoes, paintings by Jake Aikman. De Wet Centre, Church Street, Stellenbosch T. 021 887 3607 www.smacgallery.com Stellenbosch Art Gallery Permanent exhibition of Conrad Theys, John Kramer, Gregoire Boonzaier, Adriaan Boshoff and other artists. 34 Ryneveld Street, Stellenbosch T. 021-8878343 www.stellenboschartgallery.co.za Worldart 2-30 Apr, SOAK, works by Marlise Keith. 54 Church Street Cape Town CBD, T. 021 423 3075 www.worldart.co.za Hermanus Abalone Gallery Until 6 Apr, Works by Walter Battis, Joan Clare, Christo Coetsee, Hannes Harrs, Elzaby Laubscher, Cecil Skotnes, Pippa Skotnes, Fred Schimmel, Edoardo Villa. 8 Apr-8 May, Anthology, Lien Botha. 2 Harbour Rd, The Courtyard, Hermanus. T. 028 313 2935 www.abalonegallery.co.za
South African art at an auction held March 8 in Johannesburg, including 7.15 million rand for Stern’s still life portrait “Magnolias in an E...