It is with great sadness that we say good bye to a dear friend, colleague, mentor and teacher at the end of May. Andrew Lamprecht has taught at the Michaelis School of Fine Art since 1998 and as permanent staff since 2001. He has over the years taught Discourse of Art, Theory & Practice of Art, Visual and Art History and practical subjects such as performance art and photography.
Andrew has left an enormous mark on the school. His radical thinking in conceptual art and contemporary art more generally, informed the practice of a generation. Where Britain had the YBA’s of the 1980’s and 1990s, South Africa experienced a similar movement in the early 2000’s. Andrew was crucial in developing a different kind of thinking and practice at the school, one which was far more rooted in the global contemporary art scene than had ever been practiced at the school before. Artists such as Ed Young, Cameron Platter, Zen Marie, Linda Stupart and Dan Halter all hung out at Joburg and the Kimberley. From here many brilliant ideas and art works emerged. Who can forget Lamprecht auctioning off bar owner Bruce Gordon by Ed Young? The art work, Bruce Gordon was later donated to the IZIKO National Gallery and tattooed with an accession number.
Andrew’s career as a curator has spanned two decades, having mounted over a dozen major shows at local and international institutions and galleries. Never a stranger to controversy an early example of Andrew’s curatorship included Flip at the IZIKO Michaelis Collection, in which “great” works of art from the collection were turned with their faces to the wall. Here the title not only referred to the flipping of the art works onto their face but also so flip someone off. Later he did just this again to the art world when he held a massive retrospective of Tretchikoff at the National Gallery where he gathered work from five continents. This exhibition welcomed more than 29 000 visitors to the gallery, the second highest visitor figures ever for that institution. The exhibition generated a huge and rare amount of published commentary and debate, and few exhibitions in South Africa have prompted quite so much discussion and polarization.
However, Andrew has not only been a controversial curator but an extremely serious scholar producing academic articles, catalogue essays, books, reviews and conference proceedings. He is extremely well read, astute and brilliant; a great mind and a true academic. He has been an invited guest lecturer at several institutions locally and internationally. He has been invited onto numerous panels, roundtables, he was the invited curator at the Cape Town art fair, has conducted walkabouts and has been active on numerous boards and advisory committees, including the Extended Acquisitions Committee of the Iziko South African National Gallery, the Permit Advisory Committee of Experts for the South African Heritage and Resources Agency, The Council of the Fiends of the South African National Gallery (currently Chairperson) and the Freedom of Expression Commission of AICA (the International Associated of Art Critics) based in Paris.
But as his colleagues and his students, what we will remember is his humour, his humility and his humanity, always ready to share a cigarette, a joke and a word of wisdom in the parking lot.