Christo Coetzee’s success in the international art world was a far cry from his humble origins in South Africa. He was born in Johannesburg in 1929 during the Depression into a very traditional Afrikaans family. Despite his Afrikaner background and the fact that he was exposed to the conservative values of the Protestant Reformed church, he chose to study art at the liberal University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in 1947. It was here that Coetzee became an integral part of the so-called Wits group, which included fellow students, amongst which were, Cecil Skotnes, Larry Scully and Gordon Vorster. From these early days of his professional career, Coetzee displayed a non-conformist approach to painting. While his progressive contemporaries were engrossed in intensive experiment with abstract idioms and were telescoping the time-lag between South African and international artistic orientation, the young graduate launched himself into public view in 1951 with a parade of retrospective nostalgia. Read more.
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