Babobski's Blog: News and opinions from South Africa and around the world

A South African blog with an international flavour

Posts Tagged ‘South African Art

South African Art Market remains firm

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Despite the turmoil experienced in the world’s economy in 2009, the year has proven that South African art has arrived on the international stage and can be considered as a sound investment.

The top end of the South African art market displayed considerable strength with Irma Stern’s Magnolias selling for R 7 241 000, a world record for a still life by Stern.

Irma Stern paintings remain South Africa's premier art investment. Photo

Showing this trend was no flash in the pan, Anton van Wouw’s sculpture Die Nooitjie van die Onderveld sold for R 946 900, the highest amount ever paid for a South African sculpture. These painting were sold at a recent auction of South African art by Bonhams in London.

Other South African old master artists also sold for the highest price ever, amongst them Wolf Kibel’s Self Portrait selling for R 1 225 400 and Jean Welz’s still life Cezannesque also selling for R 1 225 400. Maggie Laubsher achieved her highest ever amount for a painting and J.H. Pierneef’s paintings remain in demand and are escalating in value.  Pierneef’s painting, The Baobab Tree holds the record for a South African painting at R 11.8 million (GBP 826 400).

Maggie Laubsher seascape. Photo:

However the secondary South African art market is taking strain with art galleries and artists suffering due to a lack of demand from art buyers. Some artists have experienced a 30 % drop in the price of their paintings compared to two years ago and are battling to find buyers. A respected art gallery closed its doors in Johannesburg recently and galleries from other parts of South Africa are battling to keep the ship afloat.

However auction houses like Strauss and Co as well as Bernadies are doing very well with Stauss having achieved record sales during 2009.  This indicates that the reselling market is stronger than the “new painting” market at present.

JH Pierneef: The Baobab Tree. This painting holds the record for the most expensive South African painting ever sold at R 11.8 million.

There are less speculators buying art at the moment and it is the established artists whose painting are sought after by the buyers still in the market. This explains why artists like Gregoire Boonzaier, Gerald Sekoto, Amos Langdown and Alexis Preller are still selling for premium prices as buyers flee to proven quality. A Langdown oil under R 30 000 can be regarded as a good buy for a longer term investment.

Amos Langdown is one of South Africa's most respected seascape artists

An artist like Gabriel de Jong who is regarded as one of the masters of South African art, has seen little movement in the price of his paintings. The positive side is that there has not been a drop in value either and it may well be time to start investing in this South African landscape artist.

Other investment opportunities could be found in Errol Boyley who died in 2007. The value of his paining spiked in the past 24 months but seem to be pulling back a bit. Another artist where a bargain could possibly be found is Adriaan Boshoff whose work is now in demand internationally but prices seem to have stabilized at present. Boshoff is known as the best impressionist artist South Africa has produced.

Adriaan Boshoff paintings are highly sought after by art collectors from around the world. Photo:

Christiaan Nice paintings can also be found at reasonable values and Nice will be regarded as one of the masters of South African art in time to come. His paintings have been increasing in value for the past few years and will appreciate in the future. He is well known for his District 6 scenes and donkey carts.

Now is the time to buy art, no matter how tight the budget is for an astute art collector. Once the world recession ends, prices of painting will rise again. The trick is to buy right and invest in an artist who currently offers good value for money.

Philip Britz studied under Christiaan Nice and one can keep an eye out for one of his paintings. Britz paints rural landscape scenes as well as seascapes with the palette knife. He has painted some excellent District 6 scenes as well.

Should one be visiting Jeffreys Bay this summer, look out for art by the well known seascape artist Stephen Bibb who has recently started producing good oil paintings after working with acrylics for many years. Bibb is world renowned for his ocean inspired art and his paintings can still be obtained for reasonable prices.

Stephen Bibb: Ocean Dreams – a view from the Supertubes Park in Jeffreys Bay

Follow South African art on international auctions at Bonhams, London. More articles about South African art can be found here


Artists against crime

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Renowned Jeffreys Bay artist Stephen Bibb has joined the war against crime in Jeffreys Bay. Stephen has donated one of his paintings that will be given to an individual or an organization that has signed up as a member of the J’Bay Community Police Forum (CPF) by the end of June 2009.

“Safety and security is an extremely emotive issue in this country, it is time that we all started coming together as communities and taking back the streets from this scourge that is sucking the life from this land” said Bibb, who is well known for his surf art.

Ocean Dreams

(above: Stephen Bibb oil painting on board.  Ocean dreams)

He urged people to join up with the CPF “We are realizing very swiftly that the only way to stand up against these cowardly gangsters and brutal thugs, who prey on the decent and largely defenceless public, relying largely on our fear and our apathy, is to become involved in defending our communities in any way that we can”.

“By joining the CPF and getting on the mailing list that’ll keep you up to date on what’s really happening in your community in the fight against crime.

Becoming more vigilant and security-conscious, all of us will be contributing to the solution and helping the dedicated men and women who make our town and ultimately our country a safe place for all of us”.

Check out Stephen’s art at his website at

South African Art sells for record prices

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The Brett Kebble art collection went on auction last week and raised R 54 million. Some artists’ paintings received record prices, which is quite amazing in this economic climate.

Yet, art experts have been saying for at least five years now that South African art is a good investment and should form part of a diversified portfolio.

Below:  An undiscovered gem:  Gawie Cronje, an old school South African landscape artist who lived in the Eastern Cape

G Cronje 1 web

Many people, when hearing about art and oil paintings tend to think about Van Gogh and Van Rijn. However, there are secondary art markets around the world and South Africa has a flourishing art market as well.

Kebble’s collection included the big names in South African art. J.H. Pierneef, Alexis Preller, Irma Stern, Nita Spilhaus, Maud Sumner, Vladimir G. Tretchikoff, Jan Volschenk and Pieter Wenning were just some of the names Kebble had collected.

One of the Irma Stern painting sold for R 5 013 000 at the auction, held in Johannesburg.

His Pierneef sold for R 267 000 and a Jan Volschenk achieved a world record price of R 668 000.

Not all of us have the resources of a Brett Kebble so how does one go about collecting art?

Below:  Casey Van Der Leek  will carry on the tradition of landscape paintings in South Africa.

Casey web

In the South African context, Irma Stern, Hugo Naude, WH Coetzer and JH Pierneef are regarded as old masters. It would be difficult to buy any of their painting cheaply and when a quality piece comes on the market, it will reach premium prices.

Then there are the masters. Included in this group of artists, are Adriaan Boshoff, Gregiore Boonzaaier, Frans Claerhout, Gabriel De Jong, Pieter van der Westhuizen, Otto Klar and Errol Boyley.

Many of these artists died in the past few years and the prices of their works have risen accordingly. A Claerhout oil painting will set one back around R 100 000, while a Boshoff oil painting under R 50 000 could be considered a bargain.

An elderly gentleman in the Eastern Cape bought an Otto Klar oil painting for R 200 in 1972. That same painting is valued at R 38 000 today and that is a conservative estimate.

Other investment art is called contemporary and would include artists such as Christiaan Nice, Anton Benzon, Wessel Marais, Corne Weidemann, Philip Britz and Casey van der Leek.

These artists should realize a good return over a longer period of time and are all well regarded in the art world.

Then one gets the artists who work towards a specific theme, like the surf artists. Stephen Bibb has made a name for himself with his ocean orientated paintings with dolphins and waves gracing the canvas. Martin Bakker is another surf artist to keep an eye on for an investment. More articles about South African surf artists can be found here

Below:  Stephen Bibb:  Moonrise over Supertubes Jeffreys Bay.  Bibb is well renowned for his surf art and gains his inspiration from the ocean.

Bibb moon web

What could you buy with R 1 000 000?

A good JH Pierneef or an Irma Stern if you lucky.

What could I buy with R 100 000?

Keep your eyes open for an Adriaan Boshoff or an Errol Boyley.  Boshoff is regarded as the finest South African impressionist artist and a small Boshoff painting will cost around R 30 000 – R 35 000 at least.

Errol Boyley died in 2007 and his paintings are in demand.  The prices of his paintings seem to have settled down but will pick up again once the economy turns.

What could I buy for R 10 000?

Casey van der Leek or a Philip Britz would offer good value and growth.  Van Der Leek is regarded as one of the new generation of South African landscape artists and his paintings are in demand locally and internationally.  Philip Britz studied under Christiaan Nice and is becoming known for his District 6 paintings and donkey carts on farm road landscapes.

There are also the undiscovered masters, one of them being Gawie Cronje whose landscapes grace the homes of many art lovers in the Eastern Cape.  Cronje can certainly be regarded as a peer of Gabriel De Jong and his paintings will appreciate in value and presently offer value for money.

It is worthwhile to cultivate a good relationship with a reputable art gallery. Often the galleries will look after their regular clients and you have the assurance of being able to sell your art again, should the need arise.

Art auctions are another avenue to build an art collection. One may find bargains on auction from time to time so never stop searching.

Art is like any other investment. Money is rarely made overnight and art is a longer term investment. The bonus is that you can enjoy your paintings hanging on your walls more than looking at a share certificate. So yes, money may not grow on trees but it certainly grows on walls.