Friday 19 October 2012

In London, South African artists soar in record sales

Top of three world records at last night’s Bonhams auction of South African art in London is a landscape painting Kransberg, Rustenberg, Transvaal by Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886-1957), which sold for £361,250 (R5m), a source from the sales disclosed.

Next on the top sales comes Red Jacket, an image by Vladimir Griegorovich Tretchikoff (1913-2006), sold at £337,250 (R4.7m). It’s about the artist’s muse and one-time lover.
It was estimated to sell for £50,000 to £80,000. Tretchikoff was a Russian emigrant and described as South Africa’s “most controversial artist.”

The third world record of the sales, The Garden of Eden by Stanley F. Pinker (1924-2012), estimated to sell for £70,000 to £100,000 was sold for £337,250 (R4.7m).
Kransberg, Rustenberg, Transvaal by Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886-1957) sold for £361,250 (R5m) at South African auction of Bonhams, London sales, yesterday  
Pierneef’s pair of daylight lit-mountain and farm images, Cape Farmlands, also made a world record for the artist, beating the previous record, set at Bonhams in 2008, five times over). Estimated to sell for £70,000 to £100,000, the pair “was sold at £289,250 (4m).”

A self-taught artist, Gladys Mgudlandlu (1917-1979), also set for herself a new world record with 'The newly weds', an intimate scene sold for £27,500 (R384, 000).

Total sales of £3.1m (R43.5m), according to sources, have been recorded at the Bonhams auction.

Bonhams’ Director of African Art, Giles Peppiatt, said: “The message of this sale is that while the best South African artworks continue to reach world record prices in London where the world comes to buy, bidders are being far more selective. You might say that the market is maturing and that the stampede to buy everything available that we saw five years ago, has passed for now into much more thoughtful and sophisticated buying.” 

Part of Pierneef’s PROVENANCE of Kransberg, Rustenberg, Transvaal says: Acquired directly from the artist by the Geological Survey for presentation to director Dr L.T. Nel on his retirement. Thence by descent by the current owner Pierneef chose to paint the Kransberg mountain for its particularly geological subject matter, which he felt was appropriate for this commission.

Of his 1950s landscapes Anton Hendriks wrote, "Pierneef painted Africa. His landscapes were different from anything seen in paint before. Baines, Oerder and others had painted the same scenes, but Pierneef saw them with new eyes. He created a new style out of this new subject matter." (Ibid. p.101)

Pierneef used the same composition in a smaller pencil work dated 1943 (private collection).

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