A Passionate Vision – The Story of Irma Stern

By Katherine Graham. Illustrated by Sune Raubenheimer (Ambleside Publishers).

The story of Irma Stern, one of South Africa’s most famous artists, is shared in this wonderfully written biography, perfect for young artists and scholars.

Irma spent her childhood living between South Africa and Germany and it was in South Africa that her artistic soul was ignited.  As a child, she played in the dusty streets of Schweizer-Reneke in the North West Province and later recalled the ‘barren vistas of bush, red sand and stone, heat and dust’ with fondness.  At the age of 15 she decided she wanted to be an artist as she became enchanted with the wonder of nature. “I now became aware that this world was quivering all over with splendour which could not be expressed in words and it dawned on me how wonderful it must be to grasp its magnificence and to express it thought the medium of form and colour.”

Throughout her life Irma forged her own style, traveling all over to unusual and remote destinations and recording her inspirations in her art. Today her work is in demand locally and internationally and an Irma Stern painting can fetch up to R50 million. Drawing on a combination of historical books, letters and her artworks, author Katherine Graham paints a bright and engaging story of an artist’s life.  By using Irma’s own words from letters and journals, it feels like we are getting an intimate slice of her life. A Passionate Vision will be an inspiring read for young art lovers and aspiring creatives. Details of her travels and correspondence also reveal the political and cultural climate of the day.

In the search for books about South African leaders and inspiring people, The Vine School in Cape Town saw the need for more books about prominent South Africans.  With funding they commissioned this first biography of Irma Stern. We look forward to seeing who they select next!

Share this on


Get in touch

We’d love to hear from you!

"I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in"


Robert Louis Stevenson

Social Share Buttons and Icons powered by Ultimatelysocial