Strauss & Co’s August online sale covers half a century of South African ceramic art

By CityLife Arts Writer

Strauss & Co’s August online auction comprising 250 lots in three sessions with a dedicated South African ceramics focus, is now open for bidding. The timed online auction opens with the  latest iteration of Strauss & Co’s Art Club and  Impression/Expression sessions


The dedicated ceramic session opens with two special Linn Ware bowls, (c.1930s and 40s), setting the scene for a brief overview of contemporary South African ceramics covering roughly half a century of excellent ceramic art produced in South Africa.

Wilhelm van Rensburg, Strauss & Co Senior Art Specialist & Head Curator, explains that these two lots are “the first examples from small-scale potteries and refractories that started to counter the introduction of large-scale commercially produced tableware at the time”.

 Also present in the sale are plates from the Kalahari Studio and the Dykor Refractory which stem from the next generation potteries and studios in the 1950s. The late-1960s saw the wonderfully sculptural ceramics produced at Rorke’s Drift in KwaZulu-Natal, amply represented on the sale.

 “In the 1970s, the phenomenon of the ceramic artist-potter began to emerge, with the likes of Esias Bosch, Tim Morris and Digby Hoets, all of whom are well-represented in this session, says Van Rensburg. “Equally remarkable is the group of ceramic artists inspired by traditional African vessels, rendered in a contemporary idiom.”

Lots by Nesta Nala, Clive Sithole and Simon Mashile are excellent examples from this era, and Elizabeth Mbatha’s ‘Ceramic Birds I’ with its decorative incisions and soft, blue glaze is another stand-out lot. 

The session concludes with decorated porcelain plates by Robert Hodgins and the popular contemporary ceramic artist, Ruan Hoffmann, an artist whose market is very much on the rise and whose work has appeared regularly at Strauss & Co  over the last five years.

Hoffmann’s Blue Flowers (estimate R 8 000 – 12 000), an earthenware piece decorated with porcelain slip and underglaze, is a highlight.

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