Huge sums paid for SA art

SOUTH African art dominated the London Bonhams Auction House last week.

Works by William Kentridge and the late Irma Stern, Gerard Sekoto and Francois Krige fetched tidy sums.

Stern's Arab Priest, which sold for R34 million, netted the highest price.

Sekoto's work was auctioned for R958880, Krige's for R74090 and one art work by Kentridge bagged about R3-million.

Stern is one of the five most highly sought-after female artists in the world.

Bonhams director of South African art, Giles Peppiatt, says that the recent hike in Stern's sales indicates a "growing appetite" for her works.

"Stern broke her last record at Bonhams in October 2010, when herBahora Girl sold for R26.6-million," Peppaitt says.

"If a painting goes for R35-million, that is what it's worth. By saying I can't believe that hideous picture/ pile of bricks/ crack in the wall fetched so much money, one is simply showing oneself up as someone who is art-ignorant," he says.

Stern's Pink Sari, which waspainted in 1947, sold for about R11.7-million. Her Zulu Girl, painted in 1935 at the height of her creative powers, sold for R5.6-million. Her Still Life pocketed about R2.7-million.

Born in 1894, Stern died in 1966. The talented artist achieved national and international recognition in her lifetime. Her vast output consists of exotic figures, portraits, lush landscapes and still lifes rendered in oils, water colours, gouache and charcoal.

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