Artworks reach record prices

Louis Maqhubela's Exiled King - conté on paper, 130.5x95cm. Photo: Repro Pictures

Louis Maqhubela’s Exiled King – conté on paper, 130.5x95cm. Photo: Repro Pictures

Aspire Art Auctions’ inaugural Cape Town sale on 27 March 2017 at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town attracted widespread interest. The promotion of critically engaged art, assembled with the acknowledged expertise of Aspire’s specialists, has increased the levels of interest among the pool of local and international collectors and curators.

Aspire set various significant records. At estimates of R2.5million-R3.5 milllion, J H Pierneef’s A view across Fisherman’s Cove, Seychelles sold for an astonishing R4 547 200, reaching over four times the previous record for a non-South African subject. Vrystaat Reën achieved R2 046 240, also four times its low estimate of R500 000. The linocut, Kasteelberg (Doringbome en Berge, S.W.A.) sold for an impressive R51 156, considerably over estimates of R20 000–30,000. Equally noteworthy is Hugo Naude’s Kammanassie River, Oudtshoorn, repatriated from Germany for this auction, fetching R704 816.

Amadlozi artists fared well, improving on the previous record set by Aspire Art Auctions in its inaugural Johannesburg sale in October 2016. Edoardo Villa’s significant Vertical Composition, set a new record at R1 818 880. Similarly, the Skotnes market was affirmed with Ravine Wall selling for R795 760.

Gerard Bhengu’s Veld fire, a rare work in the artist’s oeuvre, achieved R181 888, six times the low estimate; a testimony to the increasing sophistication of the market and its appreciation for rare works of supreme quality. Louis Maqhubela’s compelling Exiled King, a definitive, politically motivated work, sold for R341 040 – at more than three times his previous record, this is a long-awaited and well-received recognition of this significant artist. Albert Adams Untitled (Four Figures with Pitchforks), his first appearance at auction, sold for R136 416. This important artist will be honoured at the upcoming Rupert Museum exhibition, curated by the former Director of the IZIKO South African National Gallery, Marilyn Martin.

Contemporary artwork also fared particularly well. David Brown’s Hanging Man sold for a record price of R227 360, three times his previous record, while Steven Cohen’s Chandelier sold for R176 204, seven times his previous record.

Mohau Modisakeng, who will be representing South Africa at the Venice Biennale 2017, achieved a record of R204 624 for his work Ditaola XV. Another major contemporary artist, Moshekwa Langa, doubled his previous record when his mixed media composition, she thought of him often, sold for R102 312. Brett Murray’s work Corporate Identity achieved R68 208.

Joachim Schönfeldt’s sculpture, Maquette 5 made R159 152, an exciting development in the build-up to his career survey at the venerated Wits Art Museum later in 2017. Newcomer to the secondary market, Senzeni Marasela’s work, Untitled…, acknowledging Sarah Baartman, sold for a record R51 156.

Internationally celebrated artist Mikhael Subotzky’s work, Cell 508, A Section, Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison, achieved a record price of R107 996, trumping his recently achieved record, while Nandipha Mntambo’s Praça de Touros IV (triptych) sold for R125 048, also a record.

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