Johannesburg contemporary artist Nelson Makamo confirmed his status at auction when his work Girl in a Yellow Dress emerged as the highest-value lot at the conclusion of Strauss & Co’s October online-only auction. Makamo’s vivid 2018 watercolour and charcoal study sold to an online bidder for R222 775. The eight-session sale of collectable art, decorative arts, textiles and fine wine brought in a total of R5 301 459. The online sale attracted 524 bidders from more than 15 countries.
“The footprint of our online auction is growing with every sale,” says Strauss & Co executive director Susie Goodman. “It is encouraging to note that a fifth of our buyers in this edition are new clients.”
Perhaps due to this growing demographic of younger buyers and more international collectors buying online, the ten top lots sold featured works by historical and contemporary artists from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Mauritius, South Africa and Spain. An abstract composition on paper by Joan Miró sold for R93 800. A street scene by feted Congolese painter Moké (Monsengwo Kejwamfi) achieved R52 763, the same price realised by a gouache portraying a butterfly by renowned Mauritian writer and painter Malcolm de Chazal.
In this sale Strauss featured work by the 17 painters (from eight African countries) who were shortlisted for the 2020 Emerging Painting Invitational Prize (EPI). This is an international art initiative developed by the Emerging African Art Galleries Association (EAAGA) to support and recognise the excellence of emerging painters living and working on the continent. The first prize, sponsored by Strauss&Co, was won by the exciting young Ethiopian painter Eyasu Telayneh, who lives and works in Addis Ababa. Telayneh was the best-performing artist in the EPI session with his large canvas Private Reputation of Colors III selling for R70 350.
Another work from this artist’s suite of paintings combining gestural and hard-edged abstraction, Reputation of Colors I, sold for R58 625.
Second prize winner in the EPI was South African artist Yolanda Mazwana, and another Ethiopian artist, Kirbubel Abede, placed third. “With our international reach, Strauss & Co’s online platform is the perfect vehicle for collaborations aimed at developing new markets and generating interest in emerging artists. This competition in getting stronger every year and it’s now attracting keen interest from collectors across the world. It’s an exciting time for art and artists in Africa,” said Goodman.
The results from Strauss & Co’s offering of fine wines from France, Italy and South Africa on the online sale confirmed the depth and durability of this sector. The wine session achieved a total of R521 177 from 58 lots sold, with an impressive 85.29% lot sell-through rate. Two lots of Kanonkop winemaker Abrie Beeslaar’s CWG Paul Sauer from 2010 achieved R17 588 each (the individual lots comprised six 750ml bottles of this celebrated Bordeaux blend).