At the UCT Irma Stern Museum, Sotheby’s will host an exhibition of works charting the journey of Irma Stern, one of South Africa’s most important artists.
Irma Stern: A Life Well Travelled will feature nine outstanding pieces which together chronicle the artist’s lifelong quest for inspiration across Africa, Europe and beyond. Each bearing testament to Stern’s unique vision and unrivalled artistic skill, the works will be exhibited at the Irma Stern Museum from 11-15 February, before they are offered in Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary African Art Auctions in London over the course of 2020.
None of the works have been seen in public for over ten, or in some cases twenty, years.
Speaking about the exhibition, Sotheby’s Head of Modern and Contemporary African Art, Hannah O’Leary, said:
“Stern was at the top of her game from the very beginning. Although her personal life was often affected by low self-esteem, she never doubted her artistic ability. A radical force to be reckoned with, as a young avant-garde artist Stern contested and criticised traditional aesthetics, creating a visual language all her own. Today, with a truly international collector base and a presence in public museums across the globe – not to mention the inclusion of her work in the collection of Queen Elizabeth II – she is one of the most valued artists from the entire African continent and one of just a handful of African artists whose works achieve prices in the many millions of pounds. It is an honour to showcase these works in the artist’s South African home and studio, the wonderful Irma Stern Museum”.
Born in Transvaal to German-Jewish parents, Stern spent her childhood in South Africa before moving to Europe with her family in 1913, where she began her formal art training. A truly international creative force, Stern never felt restricted by physical or cultural boundaries, travelling extensively in search of new inspiration and subjects. From striking portraits of the people she met on her travels, to the rolling vineyards of her hometown, Stern approached each work with unwavering dedication and fervour.
Ironically, despite the widespread exhibitions and acclaim Stern achieved during her lifetime, she was all but forgotten outside South Africa for a period after her death in 1966. It is only since the dawn of the 21st century that this masterful artist has been rediscovered by the international art community.
WHERE: UCT Irma Stern Museum 21 Cecil Rd, Rosebank, Cape Town, 7700
WHEN: 11-15 February 2020
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