The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Friday, October 28, 2016

Pocket Money to Millions: A student's keen eye for art admirably rewarded
Untitled, a burly figure seated in a wooden armchair, is strong and intimidating.
JOHANNESBURG.- A seminal work, Untitled 1985/6, by the eminent South African sculptor, Jane Alexander, will be sold by Strauss & Co at an auction in Johannesburg on 11 November 2013 and is expected to fetch over R2million.

Undoubtedly one of the most influential South African sculptors of the 20th/21st Century, Jane Alexander produced Untitled concurrently with her seminal work, Butcher Boys, first exhibited together as part of her WITS master’s show at the Market Gallery in Johannesburg in 1986. In the original installation, Alexander positioned the Butcher Boys upon a bench in a relationship to the Untitled figure, facing them, gazing in the opposite direction, presumably regarding them. Completed in 1986, the year in which South Africa was in its second consecutive state of emergency, one senses the context of their creation beset with violence. There is a feeling in these works of the political and social character of 1980s South Africa.

Untitled, a burly figure seated in a wooden armchair, is strong and intimidating. His cadaveric flesh is daubed with discolorations. At the rear, his skin is severed to expose the brain and spinal column. Draped over his neck is a leather and rubber strap – originally used in the Witwatersrand mines to secure a body to a stretcher to hoist from a shaft. Deprived of a mouth, the figure can merely bear witness to the events in his view, unable to comment, protest, or condone. His eyes do not return one’s gaze but seem to drift off in view of something further, beyond his immediate reach. The imposing form is made all the more disturbing by the fact that it is life sized and rendered in scabrous realism, as though he may at any moment stand up out of his chair. Describing the Butcher Boys, though equally pertinent to Untitled, Emma Bedford, writing at the time as curator for the South African National Gallery elaborates these figures: “In form and content they express the artist’s awareness that the atrocities which humans commit are inscribed on their bodies.”

Notoriously reluctant to interview or discuss the theoretical undercurrents in her work, Alexander commented at the time of her master’s exhibition: “My themes are drawn from the relationships of individuals to hierarchies and the presence of aggression, violence, victimisation, power and subservience…”

Enduringly averse to engage directly with the art market, a characteristic distinctly contrasting to her British and American contemporaries (consider the blatant efforts made in this regard by famous yBAs et al.), Alexander, who has never had formal gallery representation, seems to prefer the setting of less commercial and more austere platforms – kunsthalles, museums, cathedrals etc.

Untitled was purchased after Alexander’s master’s exhibition by the current owner, then a WITS undergraduate student who could only afford to pay off the work in instalments from a sole income of pocket money. It took a year of instalments to complete payment. For a long time the only work sold from Alexander’s graduation show was a small bird sculpture entitled Goose. Untitled was purchased soon thereafter, while the Butcher Boys remained in Storage at the artist’s parent’s house, narrowly avoiding the threat of destruction, until they were acquired by the South African National Gallery in 1991. So central have these sculptures since become in the psyches of subsequent generations of South Africans that the constant demand to see them necessitates their being on permanent display in the South African National Gallery. They are probably also South Africa’s greatest visual art ambassadors having been included in many major international exhibitions such as Identita e Alterita at the Venice Biennale in 1995; The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945–1994, curated by Okwui Enwezor for Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and P.S.1 and the Museum of Modern Art, New York from 2001–2002.

Today's News

October 31, 2013

2013 edition of ART.FAIR opens its gates for the last time at Cologne's Staatenhaus

Banksy Nazi picture to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for HIV patients and the homeless

Christie's to offer imperial Chinese porcelain from a distinguished American collection

Queens Museum cuts ribbon on newly expanded space set to open to the public on November 9

The J. Paul Getty Museum's newly acquired "Rembrandt Laughing" is now on view

The Museum of Modern Art announces MoMA Audio+: A free mobile content platform for visitors

"The Male Nude: Eighteenth-century drawings from the Paris Academy" on view at The Wallace Collection

Museum Brandhorst announces Achim Hochdörfer as new director of the collection

Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli dismantles church to rebuild it at MoMA PS1 in New York

Martha W. Longenecker, San Diego's Mingei International Museum founder, dies

South Australian Museum says layers of treasure to be uncovered on Kangaroo Island

"Devotion and Desire" at the Asian Civilisations Museum debuts over 170 never-seen-before objects

Werewolf of London 1935 movie poster insert may bring $35,000+ at Heritage Auctions

Numismatic world riveted by Eric P. Newman Part II, Nov. 15-16, at Heritage Auctions New York

Exhibition of works by pioneering conceptual artist Victor Burgin opens at Richard Saltoun Gallery

Pocket Money to Millions: A student's keen eye for art admirably rewarded

Whitney opens pioneering exhibition of downtown New York performance of the 1970s

Morphology of the Print: Contemporary printmaking exhibition at Lehman College Art Gallery

Art San Diego announces Paddle8 collaboration, online silent auction

Watch worn by Briton involved in WWII 'Great Escape' up for auction

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- New light shines on Sandro Botticelli masterpieces at Florence's Uffizi Gallery

2.- Cincinnati Art Museum's Van Gogh exhibition brings guests Into the Undergrowth

3.- Degas retrospective debuts in the U.S. at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

4.- Special exhibition features large-scale photography by Richard Mosse & Edward Burtynsky

5.- Nobel panel gives up knockin' on Dylan's door

6.- An unprecedented, international-loan exhibition of works by Claude Monet is at the Kimbell Art Museum this fall

7.- Exhibition at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek explores Rousseau's landscapes

8.- Yoko Ono unveils her first permanent US art installation

9.- ArtReview's annual Power 100 names Hans Ulrich Obrist as the artworld's most powerful figure

10.- British artist David Hockney makes a splash at Frankfurt fair with 2,000-euro book

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