Beloosesky Gallery is interested in purchasing paintings or drawings by Irma Stern. 

Please call (917) 749-4577 or email us at info@beloosesky.com

 

Irma Stern was a major South African artist who achieved national and international recognition in her lifetime. She was born in Schweitzer-Renecke, a small town in the Transvaal, of German-Jewish parents. Her father was interned in a concentration camp by the British during the South African War because of his pro-Boer leanings. Irma and her younger brother, Rudi, were thus taken to Cape Town by their mother. After the war, the family returned to Germany and constant travel. This travel would influence Irma's work.

In 1913, Irma Stern studied art in Germany at the Weimar Academy, in 1914 at the Levin-Funcke Studio and notably from 1917 with Max Pechstein, a founder of the Novembergruppe. Stern was associated with the German Expressionist painters of this period. She held her first exhibition in Berlin in 1919. In 1920 Stern returned to Cape Town with her family where she was first derided and dismissed as an artist before becoming an established artist by the 1940s.

In 1926 she married Dr Johannes Prinz her former tutor, who subsequently became professor of German at the University of Cape Town. They were divorced in 1934.

Irma Stern traveled extensively in Europe and explored Southern Africa, Zanzibar and the Congo region. These trips provided a wide range of subject matter for her paintings and gave her opportunities to acquire and assemble an eclectic collection of artifacts for her home. Stern was to travel extensively in her lifetime: in 1930 to Madeira, in 1937 and 1938 to Dakar, Senegal, 1939 Zanzibar, 1942 Congo, 1945 Zanzibar, 1946 Central Africa, 1952 Madeira, 1955 Congo, 1960 Spain and 1963 France. Stern traveled extensively in South Africa, for example in 1926 to Swaziland and Pondoland, in 1933 to Namaqualand, in 1936 generally, and in 1941 to the Eastern Cape. In 1931 she visited Madeira and Dakar, Senegal, in 1937 and 1938. 

Irma Stern refused to either travel or exhibit in Germany during the period 1933 - 1945. Instead, she undertook several journeys into Africa; going to Zanzibar twice in 1939 and 1945 and then planned three trips to the Congo region in 1942, 1946 and 1955. These expeditions resulted in a wealth of artistic creativity and energy as well as the publication of two illustrated journals; Congo published in 1943 and Zanzibar in 1948.

Almost one-hundred solo exhibitions were held during her lifetime both in South Africa and Europe including Germany, France, Italy and England. Although accepted in Europe, her work was unappreciated at first in South Africa where critics derided her early exhibitions of the 1920s with reviews such as one titled "Art of Miss Irma Stern - Ugliness as a Cult".

The Irma Stern Museum was established in 1971, and is the house the artist lived in for almost four decades. She moved into The Firs in Rondebosch in 1927 and lived there until her death. Several of the rooms are furnished as she arranged them while upstairs there is a commercial gallery used by contemporary South African artists.
 

Biography from the Archives of AskART

 

Education

- 1913 Irma Stern studied art at the Weimar Academy under Martin Brandenburg.

- 1914 Studied art at Studio Levin-Funcke under Martin Brandenburg; later returned to Weimar to work among early Bauhaus painters.

 

Public Art Collections

Ann Bryant Art Gallery

Hester Rupert Art Museum

Irma Stern Museum

Johannesburg Art Gallery

King George VI Art Gallery

Pretoria Art Museum

Rembrandt Foundation

South African National Art Gallery

UCT

University if Wits Art Gallery

William Humphreys Art gallery

 

Exhibitions

1919, 23, 27, 32–Galerie Gurlitt, Berlin

1920, 21, 22, 25, 26, 29–Ashbey’s Galleries, Cape Town

1925, 27–Galerie Goldschmidt, Breslau

1925, 29–Galerie Goldschmidt, Frankfurt

1926–Levson Gallery, Johannesburg

1926–Champion’s Art Gallery, Bloemfontein

1929–Galerie le Triptyque, Paris

1927, 29, 32–Galerie Billiet-Vorms, Paris

1928–Galerie Themis, Brussels

1929–Galerie Nierendorff, Berlin

1929–Kestner Gesellschaft. Hanover

1929–Galerie Wurthle, Vienna

1930–Galerie van Lier, Amsterdam

1930, 32, 35, 37–Galerie Kleikamp, Den Haag

1932–Foyles Gallery, London

1933, 38–MacFadyen Hall, Pretoria

1933–Lazard Galleries, Johannesbirg

1934–Newlands House, Cape Town

1934–University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch

1935, 36–Selwyn Chambers, Cape Town

1935, 36–The Criterion, Johannesburg

1935, 46–Durban Art Gallery, Durban

1937–Cooling Galleries, London

1937–Leger Gallery, London

1937, 38–Martin Melck House, Cape Town

1939–Sun Buildings, Cape Town

1939–Transvaal Art Gallery, Johannesburg

1940, 42, 47, 49, 51, 56–Gainsborough Gallery, Johannesburg

1941, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48–Argus Gallery, Cape Town

1942–Musée Ethnographique, Elisabethville

1945, 46–Bothner’s Gallery, Johannesburg

1947–Wildenstein, Paris

1948–Kunst Kring, Rotterdam

1948–Roland Browse & Delbanco, London

1948–Van Eeckmann, Velp

1948–Christie’s Gallery, Pretoria

1949, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 57, 58, 61, 63, 64–South African

Association of Arts Gallery, Cape Town

1953, 65–Gallery Andre Weil, Paris

1955–Van Schaik gallery, Pretoria

1955, 60–Galerie Wolfgang Gurlitt, Munich

1956–Stadt Gallerie, Linz

1956–Galerie Wassmuth, Berlin

1959–Regency Gallery, Cape Town

1959–Albini Gallery, Cape Town

1960–Stadtische Gallerie, Salzburg

1960–Staat Gallerie, Berlin

1961–Fielding Gallery, Johannesburg

1962–Lidchi Gallery, Cape Town

1965–Walter Schwitter Gallery, Pretoria

1966–Wolpe Gallery, Cape Town

1967–Grosvenor Gallery, London

1968–Rembrandt Art Centre, Johannesburg

 

Timeline

- Daughter of a wealthy German-Jewish immigrant.

- 1899 to 1903 Irma Stern's father was imprisoned by the British during the Anglo-Boer War; she went with her mother to Berlin where she began her schooling; the family travelled regularly between South Africa and Germany providing her with cosmopolitan background from early childhood; displayed drawing talent.

- 1910 Back in Berlin to study; the family remained there during WW1; began art training.

- 1916 Irma Stern met Max Pechstein who encouraged her and influenced her painting; became foundation member of the 'November Group'.

- 1918 to 1919 Included among the Neue-Sezession artists, Berlin.

- 1919 Pechstein helped to arrange Irma Stern's first one-man art exhibition in Berlin, returned to South Africa.

- 1920 Her first South African art exhibition at Ashbeys Art Gallery, Cape Town - police were called in to investigate charges of immorality; first of 63 art exhibitions in South Africa during her lifetime; it established a pattern of critical public reaction which was slow to change but it brought viewers flocking then and onwards.

- 1922 to 1926 Irma Stern travelled and exhibited in South Africa, Germany and France.

- 1927 Won Prix d'Honneur at Bordeaux International Exhibition; subject of a monograph 'Irma Stern' by Max Osborn;

- 1929 Professor John Wheatly, sole selector for the South African entry to that years Imperial Institute Exhibition London, chose Irma Stern to represent South Africa.

- 1931 Elected member of South African Society of Artists.

- 1935 to 1940 High point in her paintings and drawings of tribal life in South Africa, began to experiment with sculpture; many gouache studies.

- 1939 Irma Stern's first visit to Zanzibar; confined by WW2 to Africa; painted numerous Malay subjects in Cape Town.

- 1942 Expedition to the Congo, exhibited in Elizabethville; subject of monograph by Joseph Sachs 'Irma Stern and the Spirit of Africa'.

- 1943 Irma Stern published 'Congo' - collection of drawings and paintings with accompanying text.

- 1945 Return-visit to Zanzibar, possibly the climax of Irma Stern's career when all elements of her styled fused into a mature reposeful whole.

- 1946 Irma Stern contracted Malaria at Lake Kivu; thereafter she travelled less in Africa but found fresh inspiration in the fishing villages of Spain and Madeira.

- 1947 First of two films on her work by South African Department of Information.

- 1948 Published 'Zanzibar'; member of International Art Club, South Africa; her reputation in South Africa was by now less controversial; Irma Stern was included on all major national art exhibitions from 1948 onwards.

- 1952 Irma Stern awarded Cape Tercentenary Grant for outstanding work.

- 1954 During a visit to Johannesburg delivered to the Goodwill Club the second of the only two public talks she ever made.

- 1960 Irma Stern won the Regional Award of the Peggy Gugenheim International Art Prize.

- 1963 Won Oppenheimer Award on 'Art-South-Africa-Today'.

- 1965 Awarded Medal of Honour for Painting by South African Akademie.

- 1966 Plans were made for a major retrospective art exhibition of her work at the Grosvenor Gallery, London when she died two months before her 72nd birthday; the exhibition was mounted posthumously in 1967.