Private art collectors don’t often get the chance to buy museum-quality works. But a two-day hybrid auction, conducted by Strauss & Co on November 7 and 8, is just that rare opportunity.

As it is, the selection of art on the block is something of a neat essay on the history of SA art over the past century. Alastair Meredith, who heads Strauss & Co’s art department, believes the story of SA art — colonial, modernist or contemporary — is dominated by attempts to interpret Africa. Many of the pieces up for sale speak directly to that...

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