Untitled signed 'Christo Coetzee' (lower centre), bears inscription 'Christo Coetzee / April 62' (to verso) mixed media 82 x 54.5cm (32 5/16 x 21 7/16in). unframed
PROVENANCE: The Peter Stuyvesant collection
The Peter Stuyvesant collection was started in 1960 by Alexander Orlow (1918-2009), Director of Turmac Tobacco Company (now part of the British American Tobacco Company), which made the popular Peter Stuyvesant brand of cigarettes. By 1994, when the collection was renamed the BAT Artventure collection, it had become one of Europe's most highly regarded corporate art collections.
In 1962, Coetzee received a studio visit in Paris by Danie van Niekerk of the Rembrandt Group, in order to commission a work for Turmac. At the time of the Coetzee acquisition, Stedelijk Museum director Willem Sandberg was the acquisitions advisor. According to the artist's wife, Ferrie Binge-Coetzee, who has recorded his recollections of the time, Coetzee decided to make a large work which could be seen from all sides: his strategy for doing so was to include "gate waardeur mens kan sien" (holes that a person can see through). The work would become part of the collection which hung in the company's factory, in full view of the workers. Apparently, they were initially cynical about the pieces, but would come to believe that their presence improved their productivity! This anecdote led the artist to reflect extensively on the role and participation of the spectator in an artwork.
Other Coetzee works in the collection included a large mixed media piece dated 1964 and a wool tapestry dated circa 1974, produced in collaboration with the Royal Lesotho Tapestry Weavers. Both were sold in the auction 'BAT Artventure Collection formerly known as The Peter Stuyvesant Collection' at Sotheby's Amsterdam in 2011.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: F. Binge-Coetzee, 'Grepe uit Christo se herinneringe soos aan my oorvertel is', in M. Ballot (ed.), Christo Coetzee, (Cape Town, 1999), pp.4-23, p.17