Raisonné Publishers of South Africa is a resource of selected South African modern artists and their artworks. It is a progressive and on-going project to catalogue the works of these artists and aims to become a beacon of knowledge production for South African art professionals, scholars, dealers, writers, academics and art enthusiasts.
The function of this portal is to be a resource through which members can enjoy access to the online catalogue, including online academic content. Raisonné is a collaborative project and thus invites members of the public to register and submit images and details of their privately owned artworks, which they believe to be authentic. Selected artworks will be included in the online catalogue, and may also be featured in a printed publication.
We invite you to participate in our effort to catalogue seminal South African art and thus contribute to expanding the existing historical discourse of South African modern art.
Raisonné Publishers was established in 2012 by David Minnaar and Graham Britz. Over the past twenty years David has worked as a creative and art director and is currently the owner of Ink Studio, a creative unit specialising in brand identity and design. Graham Britz is the owner of Graham’s Fine Art Gallery in Bryanston, Johannesburg. Having worked in the South African art industry for over twenty years he recognises the importance of new and relevant resources. The company is driven by Graham’s passion for South African art and David’s unique creative direction. Independent experts are, however, consulted on each project in order to maintain a critical approach to the production of knowledge and the creation of relevant resources.
Raisonné Publishers Terms: This project aims to provide information on selected modern South African artists. It is shared with the understanding that neither the authors nor the publisher is engaged in rendering legal, authentication, appraisal or any other professional services pertaining to the artwork(s) or its owner(s). If legal, or authentication, or any other professional advice pertaining to the artwork or its owners(s) is required, the services of an appropriate professional should be sought. Raisonné Publishers intends over time to compile an accurate and extensive chronological account of particular artists’ works and this is therefore an ongoing commitment on the part of the publishers. It is also the intention of Raisonné Publishers to employ credible scholars to participate in its projects with the aim of presenting new, informed views and opinions on the artists.
Thus, this project, as it stands and in its development, cannot be an exhaustive and complete presentation on the subject. While every effort is made to make the information presented here as complete and accurate as possible, it may contain errors and omissions. Neither the authors nor the publisher accepts any liability or responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage alleged to have been caused, directly or indirectly by the information, ideas, opinions or other content in this project. If you do not agree to these terms, you should immediately cancel your membership of, and participation in, this project.
Current Project - Esmé Berman: the unpublished archive
Renowned author and art historian, ESMÉ BERMAN, is writing a series of biographical monographs on artists Irma Stern, J.H Pierneef, Maggie Laubser, Walter Battiss, and Alexis Preller. The essays will be published as part of a compendium on each artist which will include an analysis by guest academic authors as well as the most comprehensive volume of collected images to date.
South African canonical modern art – in particular the work of such acknowledged masters as Irma Stern, Jacob Hendrik Pierneef, Maggie Laubser, Walter Whall Battiss, and Alexis Preller – has become increasingly important in recent years. The dramatic rise in prices for their work at local and international auctions attests to this, and has focused renewed attention on the significance of these artists as important modernists. Thanks to the publicity emanating from high-profile auctions, their work has become well known and immediately identifiable, and has entered compellingly into the popular imagination as a uniquely South African response to the twentieth-century’s artistic concerns with exoticism, individualism, and the artistic pursuit of new modes of ‘authentic’ expression.
The literature on these artists has not necessarily kept up with this increasing interest. Apart from Esmé Berman and Karel Nel’s 2009 monograph on Alexis Preller, nothing new of substance has been available to a general but discerning audience in recent years. Indeed, in many ways the standard source of information on, and historical insight into, these artists seems to remain Esmé Berman’s comprehensive Art and Artists of South Africa (first published in 1970 and revised in 1983) and The Story of South African Painting (1975). Berman, now in her eighties, committed most of her working life to the promotion of South African art. Her personal engagement with almost all the significant South African artists of the mid-twentieth century is unsurpassed by any living art historian, and is complemented by an extensive and significant archive of documents, transcripts of interviews and notes that she kept.
Recognising this, Raisonné publishers will be embarking on a project to publish a series of five books on the artists Maggie Laubser (1886-1973), Walter Whall Battiss (1906-1982), Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886-1957), Alexis Preller (1911-1975) and Irma Stern (1894-1966), commencing with Irma Stern. In a unique collaboration with Esmé Berman, the fully illustrated books aim to provide the most up to date scholarship on these artists, supported by Berman’s unique archive. The work on each artist will consist of a boxed set of three volumes: one by Berman drawing on her memories and archival material; another consisting of essays by respected South African art historians; and a third comprising a comprehensive collection of images spanning the artist’s entire oeuvre. More than simply revisionist in scope, the essays in the second volume will provide an up-to-date contextual reading that takes account of recent theories and methodologies. The aim is to promote a new and comprehensive understanding of these artists both in the context of their time, and in terms of their continued significance in the present.
Prof. Federico Freschi
University of Johannesburg
Faculty of Art, Design
Appointed Executive Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture in January 2013, Prof Freschi has been involved in the arts and academia for most of his professional life. He holds a BA Fine Arts (with distinction) from the University of the Witwatersrand, a BA Honours in History of Art from the University of Cape Town, and a PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand. He began his academic career as a lecturer in History of Design at what was then the Cape Technikon (now the Cape Peninsula University of Technology), and taught subsequently at the Universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch, and more recently at the University of the Witwatersrand, where he was until recently an Associate Professor of History of Art.
Prof Freschi has active relationships with a number of professional bodies, being, amongst others, the ex-officio President of SAVAH (South African Visual Arts Historians), a Vice-President on the Board of CIHA (the Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art), a member of the editorial board of De Arte, and a member of the International Committee of the College Art Association in the United States.
Iconic South African
Art Historian and Author
Esmé Berman has enjoyed a long career as lecturer, writer and broadcaster on art. She pioneered research into the modern history of South African art and is the author of the standard work, Art & Artists of South Africa – first published in 1970 and now in its fourth edition – and of Painting in South Africa (1993), among other publications. She is a long-time Member of the International Association of Art Critics, a frequent adjudicator of national and international exhibitions and competitions. She also served for many years as art consultant and advisor to various South African institutions, before departing in 1987, to live and lecture in Los Angeles. She returned to South Africa in 2003 and continues to be active as art historian and author.