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Strauss & Co is delighted to announce details of its Venice Biennale-themed online-only auction, which will be open for bidding from 14 to 25 April 2022. Timed to coincide with the launch of the 59th edition of the Venice Biennale in late April, and Strauss & Co’s sponsorship of the African Art in Venice Forum 2022 at Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal on 20 and 21 April, the sale casts a necessary spotlight on the historical relationship between this premier international event and South African art. The auction will be open for viewing on Thursday 14 April 2022.

“The Venice Biennale is an important event in the global art world calendar, one that always occasions great excitement, possibly more so this year after its interruption by the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Jean le Clus-Theron, a senior art specialist at Strauss & Co in charge of organising the April online sale. “It is personally thrilling to present a sale themed around an event like the Venice Biennale. It allows Strauss & Co to provide context to our buyers, especially as regards the many artists in the catalogue who have exhibited at this prestigious event.”

Composed of eight sessions, the online-only sale will feature two sessions solely devoted to art linked to Venice. The opening session will present a chronological selection of artists who have exhibited at the Venice Biennale between 1950 and the present.  The opening Venice Biennale session includes important Venice alumni like Walter Battiss, Maggie Laubser and Peter Clarke, all early participants in this biannual event. The session is especially rich in works from the 1950s and 60s. 

The sale also includes pieces by Malcolm Payne, who exhibited in Venice in the 1990s, as well as artworks by recent exhibitors like Willem Boshoff, Wim Botha and Penny Siopis. Roger Ballen and Phumulani Ntuli who are participating with Lebohang Kganye in the South African Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale, have artwork in the sale.

High-value lots in the Venice Biennale session include Walter Battiss’s Abstract with Ndebele Motifs (estimate R200 000 – 300 000) and Wim Botha’s 2016 glass installation Prism 24 [Ecstatic] (estimate R250 000 – 350 000). Strauss & Co’s April online-only auction will be supported by an informative e-catalogue exploring the history of South Africa’s participation in the Venice Biennale with a foreword written by senior art specialist Matthew Partridge. 

The second session will offer works by artists who explored painterly subjects inspired by their experience of visiting Venice, among them Robert Gwelo Goodman, Hugo Naudé and Terence McCaw. Highlights from the Venice-inspired session include Boonzaier’s Grand Canal, Venice from 1992 (estimate R35 000 – 50 000) and French painter Marc Aldine’s undated Venetian Canal (estimate R60 000 – 80 000).

Strauss & Co is proud to be the chief sponsor of the 2022 edition of the African Art in Venice Forum, a public and free discursive event presented every other year in Venice during the preview week of the Venice Biennale. Founded in 2017, speakers at this year’s event include renowned artists, museum curators and dealers from Africa and its diaspora. They include 2022 South African Pavilion artists Roger Ballen and Lebohang Kganye.

In the lead-up to the official opening of the Venice Biennale and the African Art in Venice Forum, as well as the launch of Strauss & Co’s themed online-only auction, Strauss & Co organised a series of educational webinars that you can access on our Strauss & Co YouTube Channel to watch the recorded series. 

Strauss & Co’s April online-only auction will include a session devoted to ceramics and sculptures. Noteworthy lots on offer include a Massa foundry cast of Anton van Wouw’s iconic piece The Hammer Worker (estimate R220 000 – 280 000) and Gerard de Leeuw’s bronze Sangoma (estimate R80 000 – 120 000), from the Professor Leon Strydom Collection. The catalogue includes a selection of ceramics from the Sheila Nowers Collection with quirky pieces by Hylton Nel on offer.

Strauss & Co’s April online-only sale of modern, post-war and contemporary art coincides with two separate sales presented by its decorative arts and wine departments. The decorative arts department will present a single-owner collection of Asian art. All three sales run in parallel and will conclude at staggered times on Monday, 25 April 2022. DM/ML


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