Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966) Still life of Gladioli and Fruit

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Lot 37*
Irma Stern
(South African, 1894-1966)
Still life of Gladioli and Fruit

Sold for £ 60,000 (US$ 82,527) inc. premium
Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966)
Still life of Gladioli and Fruit
signed and dated 'Irma Stern/ 1960' (lower left)
oil on canvas
87 x 69cm (34 1/4 x 27 3/16in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Purchased by a private collector in South Africa, circa 1960s.
    By direct descent.


    Stern produced a large number of still life compositions over the course of her career. In painting inert objects such as fruit, vases and flowers, the artist was liberated from time constraints and the vanities of her sitters. She was free to experiment with paint application, and the relationship between emotional expression and empirical reality. For Stern, the "physicality of objects - their materials, surfaces and forms - presented a challenge: description had to be balanced with expression".

    Still life of Gladioli and Fruit was executed in 1960, towards the end of Stern's life. Due to her deteriorating health, she was unable to travel as extensively as she had in her younger years. She became increasingly reliant on the objects in her immediate environment to provide subject matter for her art. Although Stern's physical movements were curtailed, her artistic explorations continued. This painting is evidence of her technical command - using a brush and knife, she "reconciles description with expressive interpretation, evoking the character of flower species and investigating the resonance of a cool colour harmony offset by planes of warm ochre and red.

    Stern took great pride in her garden at the Firs. For her, horticulture was akin to painting; controlling nature through selection and arrangement to evoke a particular character or mood.

    Bibliography
    M.Arnold, Irma Stern: A Feast for the Eye, (Cape Town, 1995), pp.126-128.
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