I is for Iced Tea and Irma Stern

Can I complete the whole of Round 9 of ABC Wednesday based on our four week stay in South Africa in February? Click on the photos to enlarge.

It was during a quiet Sunday afternoon in Cape Town city centre that we came across this unexpected scene of traffic chaos outside the government building on Wale Street.

The cars had been carefully positioned to create the traffic jam and the ‘drivers’ sat in the passenger seat to create the impression that this was an American city or someplace else they might drive on the ‘wrong side’ of the road.

Cape Town was being used as a film set and such was the complexity that we assumed it must be for some movie epic, but when we asked, we were told that the reason for all this effort was to make a ad for Iced Tea.

Still, it made for an useful letter I for ABC Wednesday, except that there was another literally around the corner from where we were staying — The Irma Stern Museum in Rosebank.

Irma 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 Boer War and Irma and was taken to Cape Town by her mother.

The family returned to Germany and  Irma studied art at the Weimar Academy, the Levin-Funcke Studio and from 1917 with Max Pechstein, a founder of the Novembergruppe.

GladioliShe was associated with the German Expressionist painters and held her first exhibition in Berlin in 1919. In 1920, she returned to Cape Town with her family where she made little impact as an artist until the 1940s.

She married Dr Johannes Prinz her former tutor, who became professor of German at the University of Cape Town, but they divorced in 1934. Irma then travelled extensively in Africa and Europe and died in South Africa in 1966.

She held  a hundred solo exhibitions in her lifetime, but was mostly unappreciated in her country of birth where one review was entitled: “Art of Miss Irma Stern — Ugliness as a cult“.

TBahora Girlhe Irma Stern museum was established in 1971 at The Firs, the house she had called home since 1927, where there is also a commercial gallery used to display the works of today’s South African artists.

Her Gladioli painting above sold at auction for R13.3 million in October 2010, but this record was smashed later the same month with the sale of Bahora Girl for R26.7 million.

The canvas dated 1946 was sold in its original Zanzibar frame and shows Irma’s young friend, Fatu, the Bahora girl of the title.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

8 comments… Add yours
  • Yorkshire Pudding 14th September 2011

    Immediately, I imagined imitating Irma’s illustrious images in ice if it is illustratively impressive Ian.

  • Shooting Parrots 14th September 2011

    You know you’re far better at this than I am!

  • rog 14th September 2011

    Useful info if you’re in the US – if you’re in the North, and ask for tea, you’ll get hot tea. But if you’re in the South, and ask for tea, you’ll get (usually very sweetened) iced tea.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  • Kim,USA 14th September 2011

    I love iced tea. And your post is informative thanks for sharing.

    I am In

  • Meryl 15th September 2011

    Interesting post. The ad sounds a bit wacky but why’s that surprising?

  • Francisca 17th September 2011

    You’re rolling along Impressively with your South African ABC round! I’m not much Into Ice tea, so the ad would fall on deaf ears. But I can’t Imagine why Irma failed to make an Imprint on the art scene, as I find her art rather Inspiring.

  • elsa Cdae 4th March 2015

    I would like to use the image of the traffic (diagonally turned image) for a project. Who can I contact for the use of it (if possible)?
    Await your reply

  • elsa Cade 4th March 2015

    I would like to use the image of the traffic against the buildings – skewed. Who can I contact for the use of this if possible?
    thank you await your reply


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