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Artists' Books in South Africa mourns the passing of Egon Guenther



Egon Guenther is a legend in the South African art world. Yet whomever you speak to, has a different version of why he was such an important figure. He was generally known for his African Art collection, for his Gallery unlike any other which he established shortly after his arrival in South Africa in 1951 where he showed art banned by the Nazis. He was well known for his famed wine collection as well as his remarkable microscopes that he restored to perfection. He was considered as one of the finest jewellers of his time. His knife collection is one of the best in Africa. But so is his pipe and camera collections. Among printers he was known as the legend who achieved the heights of perfection in letterpress and woodblock printing that have never been equalled in this country.

The portfolios and books he printed of Cecil Skotnes and Wendy Vincent are rare collectors’ items that launched extraordinary careers. He was the founder of the Amadlozi group that established the careers of Ezrom Legae and Sydney Khumalo among others. He was also an expert in South African historic furniture. His knowledge was expansive and he could talk about classical music or history or South African indigenous vegetation with the same authority and insight as he could about South African and African traditional art.

His legacy will continue through his family and his remarkable work and collections, but mostly through the rich and humorous stories each one of us, who intersected with him, has to tell about the legend that was Egon.

Text: Kim Berman
Source: The South African Art Times, 5 February 2015

Images: Elsa Young
Source: April 2012 issue of House and Leisure



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Click the image for a view of: Egon pages through Man’s Gold with prints by Cecil Skotnes
Egon pages through Man’s Gold with prints by Cecil Skotnes
Click the image for a view of: The first page of ‘The Rooinek’ with an elaborate drop letter
The first page of ‘The Rooinek’ with an elaborate drop letter
Click the image for a view of: Egon in his studio with his printing press where he worked with South African artists
Egon in his studio with his printing press where he worked with South African artists
Click the image for a view of: Egon Guenther stands next to a Cecil Skotnes wood panel in the wing of the house and former gallery where he lived in Johannesburg
Egon Guenther stands next to a Cecil Skotnes wood panel in the wing of the house and former gallery where he lived in Johannesburg

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