Good results for works of South African black modernist
Aspire Art Auction cements position in chosen markets
Aspire Art Auctions’ latest offering in Cape Town demonstrated the company’s pre-eminence in the South African market in the strategic art segments in which it specialises. Contemporary art took centre stage, with Aspire’s special focus on work by William Kentridge, coinciding with the artist’s magisterial exhibitions in Cape Town. Aspire is also the foremost auction house in the country to sell work in two other specialised areas, namely the work of black South African artists from the twentieth century, and fine art photography. Once again, both of these offerings performed well.
Their SPRING 19 Auction was held on Sunday, 1 September 2019, at Avenue, the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. As a company, they reaffirm a clear strategic outlook focused on developing value in particular market segments; especially contemporary art, black modernist South African art, and fine art photography, while still demonstrating their expertise and market nous to handle the major signatures of the South African art auction market. A well-positioned focus on the work of William Kentridge, South Africa’s most prominent international contemporary artist, led the sale, timed to coincide with his major exhibition at Zeitz MOCAA and Norval Foundation in Cape Town.
Aspire’s ability to successfully sell contemporary art was signalled by the special focus on the work of Kentridge. An early landscape drawing from 1988 led this section on the artist, with Untitled (Witwatersrand landscape) which fetched R2 731 200.
One of the master’s most prominent and internationally exhibited print portfolios, Portage, sold for R682 800. A range of other Kentridge prints on offer such as Four Cats, Summer Graffiti and Black Monkey Thorn all performed well, with the latter fetching well over its high estimate. The strong showing by the Kentridge section of the sale was rounded off by his three-dimensional work Head I, which achieved R170 700.
Success in the Modernist Markets
Aspire has again performed well in more traditional areas of the modernist market with a beautiful landscape by Maggie Laubser, By die See (Seascape with Boats and Birds) selling for R796 600.
Their consistent approach to develop the previously neglected black modernist market segment is notable. Aspire has been succesfull in creating value and building market knowledge in what is becoming a much respected area of South African art. This segment was led by a remarkable drawing by the renowned Dumile Feni, Mother and child, which sold for R546 240, currently the second highest price for a work on paper by Feni. Aspire still holds the auction record for the artist’s work.
A lyrical watercolour and gouache work by Gerard Sekoto, Portrait of a woman, sold for R295 880, well above its high estimate. Other significant sales include an early work by Mmakgabo Mmapula Helen Sebidi, Milking the Cows sold for R68 280 and a beautiful incised wood panel titled Buffalo by Lucky Sibiya sold for R85 350.
Leaders in Contemporary Art and Photography
The sale again demonstrated their established market leadership in the contemporary and photography segments, with many new records set and auction debuts made. Leading the showing in the contemporary collection was a piece by Deborah Bell, Tapestry I hear you with my heart, which sold for R295 880, and an exquisite embroidered work by Billie Zangewa, The Cotswolds, which fetched R227 600, setting a new South African record at auction for the artist.
Earlier this year, Aspire pioneered the first dedicated fine art photography section at auction which performed remarkably well. The company followed up this success in the current auction, with David Goldblatt, with whom Aspire achieved a world record price earlier this year, again taking center stage. His photograph The farmer’s son with his nursemaid, the farm Heimweeberg, near Nietverdiend in the Marico Bushveld. Transvaal (North-West Province), 1964 fetched R318 640, in addition to major successes for works by Mikhael Subotzky and Zanele Muholi that sold above their high estimates.
Artist’s Resale Rights (ARR)
Aspire will once again be paying royalties to living South African artists under the terms of the Company’s Artist’s Resale Rights (ARR) initiative. Aspire voluntarily covers the cost of the ARR percentage fee. To date, Aspire has earned royalties for over 100 living South African artists through their sales, across the market spectrum, and has paid out around R600 000. Their efforts to improve the sustainability of the art industry in the country has been recognized at national level when they won the Business Arts South Africa Best Strategic Project Award in 2017.