2009

 

l'Afrique: A Tribute to Maria Stein-Lessing and Leopold Spiegel

Museum Africa

Lead curator 

l’Afrique celebrated the life and work of Maria Stein-Lessing and her husband, Leopold Spiegel, who shared her passion for art. Active in the South African art world from the mid 1930s until her death in 1961, Maria left an important legacy through her many activities.

The exhibition and catalogue brought together reflections and information about the couple and the objects and artworks linked to them. They showed the significance of Maria’s contribution to the development of mid-twentieth-century art in South Africa. Ahead of her time, Maria promoted, supported, and taught African and avant-garde art well before these became widely appreciated in South Africa.

Included in the exhibition were wall texts about the couple and Maria’s role as teacher, collector/entrepreneur and curator. A wallpaper collage of newspaper articles, largely about the exhibitions she curated, recreates some of the media coverage she received during her lifetime.

Artworks from diverse sources were included on the display selected because they showed a connection to Maria Stein-Lessing: some belonged to her at the time of her death; others were exhibited by her; a few were sold by her and several form part of a memorial collection to her that is housed at the University of the Witwatersrand.

The large black and white images screening the south wall of the display area were a few of the images left behind by Maria at the University of the Witwatersrand. Some are the art works she featured on her curated exhibitions, and some the African art and craft sold from her shop l’Afrique. 

While her material legacy has become fragmented, her greatest contribution lives on in the people she inspired, supported and taught. The exhibition helped to bring the fragmented picture into focus.

View of exhibition at Museum Africa

View of exhibition at Museum Africa

View of exhibition at Museum Africa

View of exhibition at Museum Africa
View of exhibition at Museum Africa