In this wide-ranging monograph, the achievements of Irma Stern, one of South Africa's most celebrated painters, are introduced to a contemporary audience.
The vivid and powerful expressionist paintings of Irma Stern were a key factor in the modernization of early 20th-century South African art. Although she was widely recognized during her lifetime, Stern's posthumous fame has dwindled outside her home country, and this beautifully produced monograph serves to correct that injustice. A master of color and composition, Stern is best known for her portraits and still lifes that reflected her passion for travel and devotion to home. Drawing from letters, journals, the artist's own illustrated travelogues as well as the latest scholarship, this volume traces Stern's childhood in South Africa and her family's flight to Germany in the wake of the South African War (1899-1902). Readers will learn of her artistic development at the center of Weimar, Germany's expressionist avant-garde, her return to her homeland and the derisive reaction to her early work, and finally her productive travels throughout the African continent and the acclaim she achieved. The book also focuses on the political and cultural forces that shaped Stern's work, including the unification of South Africa, the rise of expressionism in Germany, the competing traditions of landscape and portraiture painting in South Africa, and role of photography on her depiction of African peoples.