Gavin Jantjes and Irma Stern are two South Africans being featured at the Spring 2020 Sotherby’s Modern and Contemporary African Art auction.
London, United Kingdom (13 March 2020) – Following the record-breaking results achieved in October 2019, Sotheby’s auction of Modern and Contemporary African Art will return to London for a fifth consecutive season.
Since the inauguration of the series in 2017, Sotheby’s sales in the category have achieved more than sixty world records, championing the work of artists across Africa and the wider diaspora, and underscoring a rising global interest in the field.
Over 100 works, by artists from 21 countries, will be on view to the public from 21-24 March ahead of the auction on March 25.
Two South African artists will be on show and up for auction as well. The artists’ works are striking and powerful. Take a look below.
The sale will feature four pioneering works by South African artist Irma Stern. Chronicling the artist’s lifelong quest for inspiration across Africa, Europe and beyond, the paintings stand testament to Stern’s unique vision and unrivalled artistic skill. Last month, the paintings went on view as part of Irma Stern: A Life Well Travelled at the Irma Stern Museum, Cape Town. Prior to this, none of the paintings had been seen in public for over ten, or in some cases twenty, years.
A South African Colouring Book, 1974-75. Est. £40,000-60,000
Gavin Jantjes’ A South African Colouring Book was created while the artist was studying at the Hamburg Art Academy in West Germany, 1970. Amazed by the lack of knowledge surrounding South Africa and apartheid, the artist made a work that could be understood as a tool for knowledge about his home country’s political struggles.
The artwork consists of 11 serigraphs constructed with news, drawings, text, prints and photographs representative of apartheid. Conjuring an image of early learning and first steps in art, it is presented as a child’s colouring book with titles that sarcastically allude to the structural oppression and discrimination lived in South Africa under the Afrikaner Nationalist Party.
Gavin Jantjes was exiled from his native South Africa in 1982 for creating art, which tackled ignorance about apartheid politics. At the time, even exhibiting the artist’s work could have landed anyone in jail. Now it is the subject of PhD theses and used by the United Nations to highlight racial discrimination under the apartheid regime.
Below is a video of Gavin explaining his artwork.