Celebrating a South African art legend, Charlotte Schachat

On Wednesday 17 August, the South African Friends of the Israel Museum (SAFIM), hosted an event in celebration of gallerist Charlotte Schachat – a doyenne of the South African art scene. 

The support for SAFIM, as well as for their guest of honour, Charlotte, was evident in the impressive turnout.

Charlotte and her late husband Louis Schachat founded their now legendary art gallery, Die Kunskamer, in 1971. Shortly after opening their premises in Church Street, the gallery earned its reputation as a pioneer in the industry, highly respected by local and international collectors alike.

In the 50 years since their opening, Die Kunskamer has handled works by many South African masters, including the likes of Irma Stern, Stanley Pinker and Cecil Skotnes. In fact, the Schachats are credited with having significantly contributed to the reputations of these now world famous artists. In the gallery’s early years, they drew attention when they offered a work by Irma Stern for sale for R5000. Today, the highest price achieved at auction for a work by Stern is £3 million. The gallery continues to cater for broad-minded art lovers, as Charlotte still runs Die Kunskamer from her home in Fresnaye.

Art is truly part of Charlotte’s DNA, and Die Kunskamer is very much part of our South African art history. Charlotte continues to be a familiar face at all openings and art events, showing her commitment to local arts and culture.

In celebration of Charlotte’s ongoing dedication to the arts, and in re-cognition of Die Kunskamer’s legacy,
an exhibition titled Homage:Erken/Verken was held at Welgemeend Homestead in Gardens throughout the month of August. The exhibition formed part of August Art Month, an annual initiative jointly hosted by Frank and Lizelle Kilbourn and leading auction house, Strauss & Co. 

As she welcomed the guests on the evening, Charlotte said of her career as a gallerist, “One of the most beautiful pleasures in life is to live with art. It enhances your home and becomes an important investment for the future. Thank you to all the collectors who have bought work from us over the years. It has been a joy.”

This event formed part of SAFIM’s annual membership programme which brings together like-minded art lovers at private events on a regular basis. Fees from membership subscriptions contribute to SAFIM’s valuable initiatives, such as their highly coveted annual internship for South African art graduates. 

The evening included a talkabout with Strauss & Co Chairman, Frank Kilbourn, and Senior Art Specialist, Ian Hunter who unpacked a variety of anecdotes and stories about the works of art, and the gallerists, Charlotte and Louis, who had once handled them. 

As the evening came to a close, all in attendance were in agreement on the undeniable impact that Charlotte and her husband Louis have had on the arts in South Africa. We thank them for their invaluable contribution.

Visit www.safim.co.za for more information and upcoming events.

• Published in the September 2022 Rosh Hashanah Digital Edition – Click here to read it.

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