A work by pioneering South African artist Alexis Preller, which for decades presumed to be lost, has been discovered and will be featured in Strauss & Co's Johannesburg sale on 7th November.
Produced in 1969, Preller's intaglio and oil on fibreglass work Adam, which is estimated at £381 475, was acquired by prominent American collectors Ruth and Jerome Siegel who left South Africa shortly after it was executed. This is the first time the rendition of Adam will be on display in South Africa since it was acquired by the Siegels. Described by artist and historian Karel Nel as a ''powerful, enigmatic work of immense complexity,'' the work's significance in Preller’s oeuvre and exceptional provenance will be sure to make for competitive bidding.
Having trained at the Westminster School of Art and later at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris, European artists had a profound influence on Preller, including masters Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.
Another rare and important Preller work on offer is Space Angel, which uses the artist's unique high-relief gesso technique and showing a disembodied aquiline head with sensuous lips. It is the first time this work will go under the gavel since the artist's estate was sold in March 1978. Following the £32 810 winning bid for Preller's Egrets, 1953, at Strauss & Co's recent Cape Town auction, interest in the artist's work is hitting an all time high.
South African heavyweight artist William Kentridge is on everyone's radar right now, with shows at Marian Goodman's galleries in New York, Johannesburg and London as well as at Whitechapel and at Beijing's Ullens Center.
Drawings by Kentridge will also be part of the auction on 7th November. Both Kentridge and Penny Siopis are to be represented in the upcoming South Africa: The Art of a Nation exhibition at The British Museum in London.
The sale also features photography by Pieter Hugo, who is best known for his stark images of African communities. Hugo's work focuses on the marginalised people of Africa. In an interview with The Guardian, he explained: "My homeland is Africa, but I'm white. I feel African, whatever that means, but if you ask anyone in South Africa if I'm African, they will almost certainly say no. I don't fit into the social topography of my country and that certainly fuelled why I became a photographer."