Sculptures are by their nature more expensive to produce, so they have always come with a high price tag. However, at the time of the large sculpture exhibition, Bronze, Steel, Stone held at the Everard Read and Circa galleries in Joburg in 2015, Mark Read, head of that large art franchise, observed that since the establishment of a few good local casting foundaries, bronze casting had become more within the reach of artists and the by proxy art buyers. Sales of sculptures had increased incrementally in their galleries, said Read.
Benji Liebmann, founder of the Nirox Sculpture Park in the Cradle of Humankind, says sales of sculptures during their annual Winter Sculpture Fair, which took place last weekend have been erratic, though this art form is popular.
“We have seen a widening interest in sculpture over the past ten years, amongst buyers and the general public.”
This year the sculpture fair presented the work produced by university art students. This would make the show edgier, but would also present some barriers.
“If there are artists unknown to the SA market the sales are slow. If the work is more experimental or ephemeral then again it is slow. Fortunately, our shows are not concentrated around sales,” says Liebmann.
Ntshalintshali, Moteane, Tose, Mabasa and Zondi may be the “neglected” artists of a bygone era, but they are known names, though seemingly undervalued. Given the appetite for collectable sculpture this won’t remain the case forever. Or at least one hopes, though the accessibility of these works should also be celebrated.
For a small window period - from June 2 to 5 - these sculpture works, alongside with others produced by Paul Sekete and Juluis Mfethe to more contemporary artists such as Norman Catherine to Michael MacGarry, who is the subject of a retrospective at the Wits Art Museum, will be on display. The public are invited to view them at the Wanderers Club, the setting of the June 5 Strauss & Co auction.
Those with a deeper interest in the provenance of these sculptures and more broadly the history of SA sculpture are invited to attend a lecture dubbed ‘A show within a show: 41 Sculptures from Strauss & Co’s June auction’ , delivered by their senior specialist, Alastair Meredith.
A Show within a show takes place on Thursday 18 May 6pm at the Edoardo Villa Museum, University of Pretoria, Hatfield campus, Pretoria. Please RSVP to Susie Goodman at firstname.lastname@example.org The June 5 Auction takes place at the Wanderer’s club in Johannesburg. Visit www.straussart.co.za