ART ARCHIVES - SOUTH AFRICA

 

 

 

Solly DISNER

 

1909-1985

 

Sculptures in wood, bronze, stone and ivory

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solly DISNER in the late 1970s (photo Jacob Gitlin Library Archives, Cape Town)

 

 

 


 

 

 

Brief c.v.

 

 

 

 

 

Born 1909 in Nidz, White Russia, grew up in Panevėžys, Lithuania – arrived in South Africa 1927, roamed South Africa looking for work.

When he heard his brother was dying, Solly Disner moved to Cape Town, taking over the general dealer’s store in Retreat.

 

In 1940 he started sculpting in his studio in Roeland Street, Cape Town. The period 1944 to 1948 was particularly difficult until the first commissions started coming in.

 

Solly Disner soon became art advisor to collectors such as Leslie Milner and Jack and Helene Kahn, and mentor to Paul du Toit (1922-1986).

 

A self-taught sculptor, Solly Disner worked in wood, bronze, verdite, marble and ivory.

His style developed from the human figure to total abstraction, as reflected in some of his sculptures:

 

1945 Torso – 1950 Womanhood – 1951 Mother and Child

1955 Atom – 1957 Fertilisation – 1959 Nucleus

 

He died on 27th January, 1985, in Pinelands, Cape Town. A number of his sculptures were bequeathed to the SA National Gallery, Cape Town.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Solo exhibitions

 

 

 

1960 Cape Town (first solo at his studio (?))

 

1962 Johannesburg – Adler Fielding Galleries (retrospective) (23rd October) (28 sculptures dated 1944 to 1962) (opened by Alec Gorshel)

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Sculptures included in

 

 

 

1964 XXXII Biennale Venice – cat. 37 – “Whisper” (verdite)

 

1966 XXXIII Biennale Venice – cat. 16: “Atom” (yellowwood)

 

 

1966 Republic Festival Exhibition - SA Association of Arts, Pretoria (May) - cat. 85: “Fate and Will” (Stinkwood); cat. 86: “Whisper” (verdite)

 

 

1977 Cape Town Festival Exhibition at SA National Gallery, Cape Town

 

 

 


 

 

 

Works in public collections

 

 

 

 

 

SA National Gallery, Cape Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 “Whisper”, 1963 – verdite – 21.5 cm H plus 7.5 cm base - ID 85/18 - bequeathed by artist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Wave”, 1960 – yellow wood – 186.5 cm L on 155 cm L base - ID 85/20 - bequeathed by artist - AFG 1962 exhibition cat. 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Atom”, 1955 – yellow wood – 101.5x30.5x15.5 cm – ID 85/19 - bequeathed by artist - AFG 1962 exhibition cat. 21 - ill. on AFG 1962 inv. cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 “Fate and Will”, 1948 – stinkwood – 52x47.5x34 cm – ID 85/17 - bequeathed by artist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Gregoire” (Boonzaier), 1944 – bronze – 39 cm H on 7.5 cm H base - ID 85/15 - bequeathed by artist - AFG 1962 exhibition cat. 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Don”, 1944 – bronze (portrait of Donald Strauss) – 40cm H on 6 cm H base - ID 85/16 - bequeathed by artist

 

 


 

 

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William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Bust of Joan”, 1945 – life-size bronze - AFG 1962 exhibition cat. 3

 

 

______________________

 

 

 

 

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

 

(Schlesinger South African Art Collection - Donation)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 “Womanhood”, 1950 – Beefwood – 100cm H – Ref. S/60/1 - AFG 1962 exhibition cat. 13

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Works sold on auction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Torso”, 1945 –  oak - 110.5 cm H  - AFG 1962 exhibition cat. 4

 

ex coll. Leslie Sacks, Brentwood USA

auctioned by Clark's Fine Art Auctioneers, Van Nuys CA USA on 4th November, 2017 – Lot 0056

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Figure”, 1949 – ivory – 21 cm

 

Auctioned by Stephan Welz & Co., Johannesburg – 9th September, 2014 – Lot 367

sold by BidorBuy, Cape Town on 28th February, 2015 (vetted by Stephan Welz & Co.)

 

 

 


 

 

 

Included in Publications

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Cynthia”, 1948 - bronze

 

Illustrated in NewsCheck, Johannesburg, 1962 Vol 1 No 9 – 9th November, p. 35 (“Images and atoms”) - AFG 1962 exhibition cat. 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Fertilisation – Bevrugting” – stinkwood – 1957/1958 - 122 cm – cat 137

 

"Art in South Africa - Kuns in Suid-Afrika" (Alexander) (Balkema), 1962 – cat. 137, p138 ill

 

listed in AFG 1962 exhibition cat. 23

 

 

 

“Ons Erfdeel” 1963 Nr3 Beldhoukuns pp.50_67 („Bevrugtiging“)

 

"South African Artists 1900-1962" (Harold Jeppe) (Afrikaanse Pers-Boekhandel), 1963

 

“S.A. Kuns / S.A. Art (Twentieth Century South African Art”) (Bokhorst/Martienssen) (Human & Rousseau) (1966) cat 52, p78 (“Atom”, 1955)

 

“Cape Town - City of Good Hope” (Honikman) (Howard Timmins) 1966 – p175

 

"Three Centuries of South African Art" (Fransen) (A.D. Donker), 1982 – p334 - ISBN 0-86852-012-8

 

“Art & Artists of South Africa” (Berman) (Balkema) (1983) – pp 395, 475, 516 – ISBN 0-86961-144-5

 

“The Dictionary of South African Painters and Sculptors” (Ogilvie) (Read) (1988), p177 – ISBN 0-62012663-9

 

“Made in Wood – work from the Western Cape” (SANG) (1992) – ISBN 1-874817-07-3, pp. 42, 53/54

 

“Bibliography of South African Jewry” (Belling) (Kaplan Centre, UCT) (1997) – listed ref 1479 – ISBN 0799218057

 

 “More than Brothers” (Willemse) (Kwela Books) (2000) pp 61/2 – ISBN 0-7957-0095-4

 

 “Visual Century – South African Art in Context” Vol 1 1907-1948 (Carman) (WUP) (2011) p99 – ISBN 978-1-86814-524-9

 

 

 

Dagbreek, Pretoria – 21st October, 1962

 

Die Vaderland, Johannesburg – 31st October, 1962

 

SA Jewish Times, Johannesburg - 19th October 1962 / 2nd November, 1962

 

Rand Daily Mail, Johannesburg – 25th October, 1962

 

Suid-Afrikaanse Stem, Johannesburg - 28th October, 1962

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solly Disner illustrated with one of his sculptures at the Adler Fielding Galleries, Johannesburg, in The Star, Johannesburg – 24th October, 1962

 

 

The Star, Johannesburg – 19th / 23rd / 24th / 25th / 27th October, 1962

 

Unknown - "Introduction" by Dr I. Mirvish - Cape Town - October, 1962

 

Zionist Record, Johannesburg – 2nd November, 1962

 

“Jewish Affairs”, Johannesburg (“Solly Disner’s sculptures”) (Charles Eglington) Vol 17(11): 24-26 -November 1962

 

Pretoria News, Pretoria – 26th May, 1966 (South African Paintings and Sculptures for Venice Biennale)

 

“Dorem Afrike” – Sept/Oct 1967 (“Solly Disner – Sculptor of New Ideas”) (David Wolpe)

 

SA Business Art, Johannesburg – July, 2009 + October, 2009 p15

 

“Jewish Affairs”, Johannesburg – Chanukah 2017

 

 

 


 

 

 

Other web references

 

 

 

http://isangpatriarch.blogspot.com/ (January, 2009)

 

http://levitt-family.weebly.com/kahn-art-sale.html - introduction by Joe Wolpe, 2006

 

 

 

 

 

A few images of other sculptures by Solly Disner are included in the

 

Solly Disner Papers © – archives BC1151 at UCT Libraries, Rondebosch – 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The Ten Lost Tribes", 1947 - ebony -  AFG 1962 exhibition cat. 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Molecule", 1956 - Ironwood - AFG 1962 exhibition cat. 22

 

 

 


 

 

 

Updated on 23rd October, 2018

 

 

https://art-archives-southafrica.com/solly-disner-archives

 

 

We thank André Landman of the UCT Libraries (Special Collections), Rondebosch, 

and Hayden Proud, Curator of Historical Collections of Paintings and Sculpture, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town,

for making their documentation available, also the Johannesburg Art Gallery for their valuable input!

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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https://www.art-archives-southafrica.com/selected-artists-from-south-africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

ART ARCHIVES - SOUTH AFRICA

 

 

 

Solly DISNER in the 1970s (photo Jacob Gitlin Library Archives, Cape Town)