Sydney Alex Kumalo (South African, 1935-1988) St Francis of Assisi  70 x 27.5 x 22.5cm (27 9/16 x 10 13/16 x 8 7/8in).
Lot 42*
Sydney Alex Kumalo
(South African, 1935-1988)
St Francis of Assisi 70 x 27.5 x 22.5cm (27 9/16 x 10 13/16 x 8 7/8in).
Sold for £ 75,000 (US$ 98,702) inc. premium

Lot Details
Sydney Alex Kumalo (South African, 1935-1988) St Francis of Assisi  70 x 27.5 x 22.5cm (27 9/16 x 10 13/16 x 8 7/8in). Sydney Alex Kumalo (South African, 1935-1988) St Francis of Assisi  70 x 27.5 x 22.5cm (27 9/16 x 10 13/16 x 8 7/8in). Sydney Alex Kumalo (South African, 1935-1988) St Francis of Assisi  70 x 27.5 x 22.5cm (27 9/16 x 10 13/16 x 8 7/8in).
Sydney Alex Kumalo (South African, 1935-1988)
St Francis of Assisi
signed and numbered 'K VIII/X'
bronze
70 x 27.5 x 22.5cm (27 9/16 x 10 13/16 x 8 7/8in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Acquired from Egon Guenther.
    A private collection, USA.

    Literature
    H.Toerien & G.Duby, ed. Our Art, vol.3, (Pretoria, 197-), illustrated p.66.


    Born in Johannesburg in 1935, Kumalo first received sculptural instruction at the Polly Street Bantu Men's Social Centre in 1952. At this time, the Director of Art was the renowned wood engraver and painter, Cecil Skotnes. Skotnes was quick to recognise Kumalo's talent, and became the young man's mentor.

    Shortly after this, Kumalo was accepted as an assistant in the studio of Edoardo Villa. This was a valuable training ground, as Villa worked in a variety of media including clay, bronze, stone and steel.

    When Cecil Skotnes resigned as Director of the Polly Street Art Centre, Kumalo took over the role. He held the post for four years, before resigning to concentrate on his own sculptural practice.

    The most important influence on Kumalo's work came in 1962 when he met the collector and gallerist, Egon Guenther. The sculptor held three solo exhibitions at Guenther's gallery in 1962, 1966 and 1967.

    St. Francis is one of Kumalo's best known works. Conceived in 1961, the sculpture depicts the Christian saint renowned for his acts of compassion. It was described by a contemporary critic thus:

    "The mask-like head radiates spiritual serenity, yet the neck is rigid with strain. The wide-legged stance asserts confidence but the arms are pathetically thin. This is a representation of a man rent by spiritual conflict, caught in his frail human body. Movement is concentrated at two points: on the saint's left hand that cuddles a dove protectively against his chest, and on the strong thrust of the right arm reaching heavenwards in a gesture that combines blessing with threat. This double significance reinforces the tension caused by the amalgam of Christian content with forms redolent of African ritual...in Sydney Kumalo's St. Francis a man is portrayed who has galvanised himself through the strength of selfless compassion and so overcomes the limitations set by his fallible human body."

    Bibliography
    H.Toerien & G.Duby, ed. Our Art, vol.3, (Pretoria, 197-), pp.66-68.
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  1. Eliza Sawyer
    Specialist - South African Art
    Bonhams
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