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Work from top African artists to go under hammer at auction in the docks

Strauss & Co holds its first dedicated 71 lot contemporary art sale on February 17 at an impressive former warehouse overlooking Duncan Docks in Table Bay harbour.

Formerly a cold storage facility, it is now part of a complex of buildings being transformed by the V&A Waterfront into a cruise liner terminal, and is a convenient five-minute walk from the Waterfront’s Silo District and Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa.

The sale, which focuses on outstanding examples of contemporary art made by South African, African and diaspora artists, will coincide with the annual Cape Town Art Fair at the Cape Town International Convention Centre which began yesterday and ends tomorrow.

Highlights from the sale include:

An important charcoal and pastel drawing by William Kentridge from his film Felix in Exile (1994), estimates R2million to R2.5m;

An early Cake (1983) painting by Penny Siopis, estimates R600000 to R800000;

Joachim Schönfeldt’s portfolio of 27 painted and embossed works on paper, The Model Men (2000-12), estimates R800000 to R1.2m;

A pyramid sculpture, Third World Disorder (2010), by Kendell Geers, estimates R600000 to R800000; and

Robert Hodgins, Drunk in the Docks, estimates R800000 to R1.2m.

The sale also includes works by noted artists such as Lisa Brice, Kate Gottgens, Georgina Gratrix, Helen Sebidi and Jessica Webster, as well as striking early works by Zander Blom and Ayanda Mabulu.

Recognising the emergence of photography in the period since 1990, photographic works by Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou, Kudzanai Chiurai, Abrie Fourie, Cyrus Kabiru, David Goldblatt, Mohau Modisakeng, Tracey Rose, Mikhael Subotzky and Guy Tillim will be offered.

A broadening of tastes among South African collectors has seen artists Jane Alexander, Deborah Bell, Norman Catherine, Robert Hodgins, Kentridge and Siopis perform consistently well at auction.

Kentridge now ranks among the top performing artists at auction in South Africa, alongside blue-chip JH Pierneef, Gerard Sekoto and Irma Stern.

Strauss & Co has sold 240 Kentridge lots since 2009, with a cumulative value of R81.8m.

The two other top-performing contemporaries are Hodgins and Catherine. Hodgins brought in R43.9m from 195 lots sold since 2009, while Catherine has achieved R11.1m from 157 lots sold over the same period.

Strauss & Co achieve a world record in 2011 when it sold an untitled figure sculpture by Alexander, originally exhibited with her iconic The Butcher Boys (1985-86), for R5.5m.

Recent Strauss & Co live sales have seen enthusiastic bidding for a newer generation of artists.

Last year an edition of Mary Sibande’s photo Her Majesty, Queen Sophie sold for R193 256, well above its high estimate.

Similarly, Billie Zangewa’s silk tapestry Working Nights fetched R204 624, quadrupling its high estimate.

An illustrated catalogue accompanies the sale at the Cruise Terminal, E Berth, Duncan Docks, Duncan Road, V&A Waterfront on February 17 at 6pm.

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