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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thursday, 2 April '09: Discovering my world: Irma Stern


Blogging has become a way of appreciating my own world: its people, history, flora and fauna. Here are a few of the bold, emotionally intense paintings of Irma Stern, early South African artist (1894-1966). Above is the Cape flowerseller with proteas.

Irma Stern was born to German Jewish parents in the remote town of Schweizer-Renecke in the hot, dry North West province of South Africa where her father ran a trading store. Irma's life, however, was not confined. She and her parents travelled intermittently between Europe and South Africa.

Her parents welcomed her ambition to become a painter. She spent the years of the WWI in Germany where she studied under the Expressionist, Max Pechstein. On her return to South Africa, her art was derided and misunderstood in the conservative Cape Town of the 1920's. Reviews declared: Art of Miss Irma Stern: Ugliness as a cult.

But by the '40s Irma was an established artist. Her travels to Europe were cut short by WWII; instead Irma travelled into the interior of Africa, to Zanzibar and the Congo, where the colours of the produce at the food markets, the dress of the diverse peoples and the tropical landscapes inspired her striking paintings.

Irma's home in Rosebank, Cape Town has become the Irma Stern Museum administered by the University of Cape Town. Her studio remains unaltered and the Museum houses selected works and travelling exhibitions. Do visit on your next trip. You know, that first time ever trip to South Africa that you have been promising yourself!

Irma's comment on the creative process: "I work a long time at a picture in my head...I never touch the canvas after it is finished."

17 comments:

willow said...

Her work is absolutely wonderful! I especially like the composition and movement of the last piece. Thanks for introducing me to this lovely artist, Eleanor.

Smilingsal said...

Oh, Eleanor, my traveling days are over, I'm afraid. I'm thankful to have you to take me along on your fascinating tours.

Avril said...

Interesting! - love the vibrant colours!

Janet said...

Interesting artist. I have heard of her! I particularly like the little girl for some reason ... something in those eyes.

Sweet Repose said...

Thank you so much Eleanor for stopping by and thank you so much for the tour of your exotic lands. So many wonderful artists misunderstood by their peers, it's all in the eye...to be able to really see without complaint, is to really be sighted.

To have the love of ones homeland and be proud of it's heritage, is why I love the simple beauty of Iowa..and it's why I stay home bound!

I'll be back to visit to be sure...

Sharon

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Hello Eleanor. This is a lovely post again. You are right, we sometimes do not appreciate our own history and cultures which are right under our noses.

I always used to shake my head at people who were wanting to go overseas when that had not done any traveling around our own beautiful country. It has so much to offer people with all kinds of interesting things to see and do.

We should meet for coffee one weekend when you have nothing else to do.

KarenHarveyCox said...

Hello Eleanor,
Oh, I just love being greeted by your cottage and your dogs on your header. I love that you always appreciate your history and culture and that you celebrate those in your country who are so talented. This artwork is stunning.
Karen

pammiejo said...

Thanks for dropping by again, Eleanor! I'm always checking on your blog. Really enjoy your history that you include in your posts...I always come away "enlightened"! PAM

jeannette stgermain said...

The first painting (on top) you posted of her, I find very intriguing. (I am a Dutch artist, lviing in Los Angels) - thank you for sharing her work!! I wandered over from another blog and am glad I did:)

Raph G. Neckmann said...

What beautiful paintings, Eleanor! I am so glad she persevered against criticism.

(Thank you for your encouraging comment on my blog! Don't know if you saw my response to your briefcase meme, on the previous post? It was great fun to do!)

Ms.Daisy said...

Eleanor,
You are so completely right, we very seldom appreciate what is right under our noses! We have some lovely gardens close to home and I'm hoping to take pictures as soon as the weather warms. One of my favorite things is to wander through art museums and we are close to New York, Washington, DC and Philadelphia and their wonderful art museums. Thank you for sharing Irma Stern with us.
Thanks for stopping by and your sweet comments about BeBe - she IS our little miracle!
Funny you should ask about Marley and Me...I just saw a trailer for it on TV and thought, "I should put that one in my Netflix queue!"

Love,
Jean

TheWritersPorch said...

Eleanor, the paintings are remarkable! I know what you mean about blogging helping you to appreciate what is around you!I've found new appreciation too of the deep south!
Come to the porch and see if you can spot the ghost image in the painting photo!
Love, Carol

Claudie said...

Dear Eleanor
I hope you don't mind. I have you as my featured site this week. I just had to share your love of all.
Love Claudie from Canada
xoxoxo

Claire said...

The pickings from your garden for the week are beautiful!

Thank you for stopping by. It means more than you realise. We are in transit, living with my mom for two weeks before we fly on the 13th of April. I am excited but also shyly expectant of that which thsi new life holds and very definitely sad to be leaving so much love behind.

I hope that you are well.

Had a meeting with Wendy Kilfoil (she used to be at Unisa) last week. She reminded me of you.

I hope that you are well. Blessings for the week ahead.

C

Fifi Flowers said...

GORGEOUS paintings... I"ve never heard of this painter... thank you for sharing!
Fifi

Sharon said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. I had to google her to see more of her wonderful artwork. And now I really want a book of her art...

Anonymous said...

I'm doing a history project where I have to select a non-western artist and make a "museum room" from their work. This was really helpful as I found that Irma Stern was the perfect artist for the assignment after visiting this site. Thank you for sharing!