The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Irma Stern at the height of her powers, dazzles with Zanzibar masterpiece for sale at Bonhams
Irma Stern, The Pink Sari, signed and dated 1947. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- A stunning image from one of Irma Stern’s trips to Zanzibar which inspired some of her best work, titled ‘The Pink Sari’ , signed and dated 1947, and with its original Zanzibar frame ,will be sold by Bonhams in London on March 21st for an estimated £800,000-1,200,000.

Never before seen on the open market, the painting was acquired directly from the artist circa 1961 and then passed by direct descent to the current owner. It is the top lot in Bonhams next sale of South African Art which has consistently broken records for South African art over the past five years.

Irma Stern's trips to Zanzibar in 1939 and 1945 were life-changing events that would continue to exert influence on her artistic output for years to come. The island's people and colours had etched themselves in her mind and gave her a profound sense of satisfaction in having found precisely what she had been searching out across Africa for several decades previously. To her friends she described the trip as a revelation, the island as a bustling idyll teeming with colour. The pink sari is a stunning example of the beauty Stern encountered on the island. In the women of the Zanzibar in particular, she had found her greatest inspiration.

Before the Second World War and her trips to Zanzibar and the Congo, Stern had spent time in Paris and other parts of Europe. Her dealer tried to convince her to hold an exhibition there, but the forebodings of war excluded the possibility. "Shall have one a bit later – when I can breathe again and need the feeling of a European connection." It would be a decade before that connection was to return. By 1947, the year in which The pink sari was painted, war was over in Europe and Stern was preparing to exhibit there again, in Paris, London, Rotterdam and Brussels in 1947 alone. It is likely that The pink sari was painted for exhibition at one of these European exhibitions.

While Stern had originally made a name for herself on the continent via her use of exotic, native subjects, in the post-war years she would seek to reposition herself slightly, as a Modernist rather than an executor of anthropology. "Stern was a modernist because she accepted the idea that a painting was an object in its own right, constituted of a visual language unique to it. Her images reveal a concern for colour and mark, the density of oil, fluidity of gouache, and tonality of charcoal." Stern's technical abilities reached their zenith in the 1940s. Her Expressionist studies under Pechstein had matured into a mastery of the brush wherein every brushstroke is a demonstration of utterly perfect manipulation of colour and texture.

In the same year as The pink sari, one sees Stern experimenting with the genre of the nude female, reweaving the traditional subject into something more cutting-edge. Stern did not paint very many nudes over her career, but two of her most notable (Crouching Nude and Nude, both illustrated in Marion Arnold's monograph on the artist) date from 1947 and indicate that Stern was experimenting with moving her art into a more modern post-War world.

"A portrait is never merely the objective record of another; it is a response to the human tendency to consider oneself in relation to others." The pink sari is a telling example of Stern's concerted transition into modernity, not only within her art, but also within herself – the subject is culturally demonstrative and traditional, but Stern has also imbued her with an undeniable modernity and a sexuality rarely seen in her pre-War works. Mona Berman comments that in the late 1940s, "A new confidence and self-assurance emerged, partly because of the acknowledgement she was receiving from the critics abroad, but also because she seemed to have gained additional insight into herself. She had come to terms with who she was and what she needed for her talent to grow and flourish." Stern allows the scarf to slip off her subject's head, blending it into a background and enhancer of feminine beauty rather than a protector of female modesty, and offering the suggestion that it might slip away at any moment. Her previous portraits of Zanzibari women often hinted at confinement, with clothing and headscarves acting as protective layers. Here, the woman's hair is swept up and her head tilted slightly away, gently offering her elegant neck to the viewer. Instead of traditional gold jewellery, her ear is adorned with a lush, living flower, and her lips are full and red. As a subject, she escapes the staid timelessness of many of Stern's African subjects, instead stepping into the post-War world, as Stern herself was simultaneously doing.

The original Zanzibar woodwork framing The pink sari signifies Stern's own personal satisfaction with the work. Stern was keenly involved in all aspects of her artistic production, including priming and stretching her own canvases and choosing the frames for nearly everything she produced. Zanzibar frames were exclusively reserved for her most treasured works and the ones she considered to be her very best examples. She had exported several pieces of Zanzibar woodwork (including chests and doors) during her time on the island, installing one as the door to The Firs, her Cape Town home, and breaking up the rest to frame her favourite pictures. The Zanzibari government actually banned the export of the doors because of Stern's actions, so she knew they were in limited supply and reserved them only for her very best pieces.

Today's News

February 7, 2012

The royal family of Qatar purchases Paul Cezanne's Card Players for a record $250 million

Christie's London announces full details of the long-awaited Hockney on paper sale

Guggenheim exhibition of American Avant-Garde to open at the historic Palazzo delle Esposizioni

First comprehensive study of Renoir's full-length canvases at the Frick Collection

Modern masters lead Christie's March sale of fine American paintings, drawings and sculpture

Sotheby's to sell violin by Nicolò Amati in London sale of Musical Instruments to be held in March

Contemporary artists explore the secret life of museums and their collections in new exhibition

University of Arizona's Center for Creative Photography acquires the Jack Welpott Archive

American contemporary artist Michael Dweck invited to have a solo exhibition in Cuba

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that large charitable donations are on the rise

Taxter & Spengemann's Pascal Spengemann joins Marlborough Chelsea as Director

Decade of Dissent: Democracy in Action 1965-1975 at the new West Hollywood Library

Despite a well-publicized ceremony, New York Fort William Henry's skeletons not buried

Transformed Yale University Art Gallery to open in December 2012

Original Frank Miller Dark Knight cover art offered in Heritage Auctions' February event

Norton Museum presents solo exhibition of works by Tacita Dean

Irma Stern at the height of her powers, dazzles with Zanzibar masterpiece for sale at Bonhams

Philadelphia celebrates Dickens' 200th birthday

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Boy and an amateur archaeologist unearth legendary Danish king's trove in Germany

2.- Exhibition at The Met illustrates what visitors encountered at The palace of Versailles

3.- Philadelphia Museum of Art opens "Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950"

4.- Exhibition at Michael Hoppen Gallery presents a cross-section of works from Thomas Mailaender's career

5.- New York's Chelsea Hotel celebrity door auction raises $400,000

6.- Stevie Ray Vaughan's first guitar drives Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Auction to nearly $2.9 million

7.- Lichtenstein's Nude with Blue Hair tops $2.4 million sale of Modern & Contemporary Prints & Multiples

8.- $6.7 million Fancy Intense Blue Diamond sets auction record at Sotheby's New York

9.- Mexico court blocks sales of controversial Frida Kahlo Barbie doll

10.- Dutch museums to conduct new research on the paintings of Pieter de Hooch

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful