Jane Alexander's Untitled breaks record for South African sculpture

An untitled work by Jane Alexander has become the most valuable sculpture by a South African artist, after realising $526,805 at Strauss & Co in Johannesburg on November 11.

Jane Alexander Untitled Strauss
The sculpture was originally purchased by a
fellow student

The work achieved an increase of 81.8% on a $289,632 estimate.

The previous record was held by Anton Van Wouw, whose Bad News realised $202,396 at Strauss & Co in 2010 - equating to an increase of 35.7% pa for the highest valued work of South African sculpture since 2010.

Best known for Butcher Boys, a seminal work from the late 1980s that discourses on the corrosive effect of racism and violence on the human psyche, Alexander is one of South Africa's most celebrated contemporary artists.

Untitled explores similar themes, depicting an eerily humanoid form seated in a contemplative pose.

The sculpture was purchased at Alexander's masters show in 1988 by a fellow student, who paid off the work over the course of a year.

The sale eclipses the previous record for Alexander's work; $106,149 for a sculpture titled Racework that sold at Strauss & Co in 2010 - equating to a rise of 70.6% pa.

Other notable lots at the sale of South African and International Art included Bernard Buffet's Bouqet de Pavots, which realised $126,213 - up 86.8% on a $67,580 estimate.

Buffet (1928-1999) was a French painter who achieved significant commercial success in the post-war era. His work was immensely popular with the general public but detested by the French artistic establishment.

His Deux Clowns a la Grosse Caisse made £289,350 ($464,825) at Christie's in London in 2011.

A statue by Anton Van Wouw titled The Bushman Hunter realised $87,800.

Van Wouw (1862-1945) was a Dutch born sculptor who emigrated to South Africa aged 28, and whose work was hugely influential in his adopted land.

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