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Newsletter 7/22

Irma Stern: Untitled. Watercolour on paper, 1908

Newsletter 7/22

Centenary Year 

You might know that this year the UCT Irma Stern Museum is celebrating 50 years since it opened its doors to the public. But in this special year, we are also celebrating another anniversary: it is 100 years since Irma Stern™ opened her first solo exhibition in South Africa. Titled ‘An Exhibition of Modern Art by Miss Irma Stern’, it opened on 7 February 1922 at Ashbeys’ Art Gallery, 91 Long Street, Cape Town, to indignation and disgust from a number of critics. One art critic who signed his article W.R.M. wrote in his review about the ‘general nastiness of [Irma Stern’s] work’ and that ‘no serious attention need be paid to this attempt to startle the susceptibilities of Cape Town art lovers’. If Stern’s work was to many unacceptably radical at the time, nowadays, the colours, textures and forms that so upset W.R.M. are precisely what Stern is celebrated for.

Fascinatingly the exhibition was comprised of 96 watercolours, oils, prints and drawings, as well as 28 objects made from painted silk, such as tablecloths and tea cosies – strange to us now but much in keeping with art exhibitions of the time.

To mark this centenary, the UCT Irma Stern Museum will host an overview of Stern’s formative years as an artist. This overview, titled ‘How I Began To Paint’, was co-curated by the UCT Irma Stern Museum team and Sakhi Gcina, researcher, art historian, curator and former Curatorial Assistant at Zeitz Mocaa. The exhibition opens on 23 November – look for further details on our social media sites and the museum website.

Upcoming events

The UCT Irma Stern Museum, in collaboration with SMAC Gallery, is currently hosting the exhibition “The Cult of Ugliness”, in which Georgina Gratrix shows works produced during a two-months studio residency at the museum, together with select loan works. Do join us for upcoming events linked to Georgina’s exhibition:

  • 5 November, 11.00 – 12.30: Georgina Gratrix in conversation with Sean O’Toole, author of the monograph ‘Irma Stern: African in Europe – European in Africa’ (2021, Prestel) 
  • 26 November 2022, 11.00 – 12.30: A walkabout with artist Georgina Gratrix

It will be lovely to see you at the events and to have a chat over refreshments afterwards. To book please contact Lucinda at, 0608 270 787, or 021 650 7240. Regular museum entry fees apply ( 

We look forward to seeing you again at the UCT Irma Stern Museum.

With best wishes from the ISM Team

*Image: Untitled. Irma Stern, 1908. Watercolour on paper

Wed – Fri: 10 am ‒ 5 pm
Sat: 10 am ‒ 2 pm

Adults: R65
U18s, students, pensioners, UCT staff: free

21 Cecil Road, Rosebank, Cape Town
0608 270 787 (Mobile)
021 650 7240 (Office)