Irma Stern was born in South Africa and made her art studies in Germany. Twenty years after leaving Germany, the style of the artist was still under the influence of the expressionists and especially of Max Pechstein with whom she had worked. The nude was one of their favorite themes, allowing bold compositions and warm colors while bringing a sense of freedom.
This oil on canvas 88 x 88 cm was painted in 1945, the key year in the career of Stern when she made her second trip to Zanzibar. The clear empathy in the communication of the artist with her ethnic sitters generated the most beautiful paintings of Africa. The portrait of a young Indian woman in Zanzibar was sold for £ 2,37M including premium by Bonhams on October 26, 2010.
The nude in the next sale is not empathetic but intimate. The mature woman was probably a longtime friend of the artist. She is quietly reclining with bent legs on the colorful rug of a sofa, probably at her home. The diagonal composition is powerful. This woman with round shapes without being obese anticipates by nearly half a century the nude women friends of Lucian Freud.
Stern never forgot that she was in Africa. This painting was mounted in an Africanist frame typical of her art.
I invite you to play the video shared on YouTube by the auction house.