b. 1908 Vienna – d. 1994 Pretoria

Survey of Paintings from the artist's short abstract period



Prof. Otto KLAR (1908-1994) in his studio around 1963

Prof. Otto KLAR in abt. 1963



Brief C.V.


Born in Vienna 1908, studied at the Wiener Kunstakademie, exhibited in Vienna, Munich and Berlin, emigrated to South Africa in 1939, settling in Pretoria.

Otto Klar held art classes in Pretoria - amongst his students was Alice Goldin.

In 1962, the State President of Austria conferred on Otto Klar the title "Prof. h.c."

After Otto Klar passed away in 1994, his stepson Klaus H. Fischer inherited the personal collection of works from the Estate, which were offered in Port Elizabeth on 29th September 2000, inter alia.

Additional © information on Otto KLAR's life history can be found in German on this link.




This survey is limited to exhibitions which included Otto KLAR’s abstract paintings only



Group and Solo Exhibitions of abstract paintings only



Whippman’s Gallery, Johannesburg (SOLO show) (opened by Dr A.M. Mayr-Harting, Consul for Austria, on 19th October, 1952) (see Footnote!)


São Paulo Biennale (listed with 3 works)


Gallery 101, Johannesburg – 26th June, 1961 (Eight Artists at Gallery 101)


The Gallery 101-U.A.T. 1962 Scholarship: „Art and Religion“ (included with 1 work - "The Prophet") (26th February, 1962)


The Gallery 101-U.A.T. 1963 Competition: „Arbeid-Work“ (included with 1 work "Rolling Mill", ill.) (March, 1963)

Otto KLAR "Rolling Mill", 1962 - exhibited March, 1963, ill. in "The Gallery 101-U.A.T. 1963 Competition: „Arbeid-Work“ cat. 5"

"Rolling mill, Iscor" 1962 (click for better view)

Gallery 101, Johannesburg (SOLO exhibition of 17 paintings) (opened by Mr Gideon Roos on 6th May, 1963)


Studio Gallery, 44 Cuthberts Bldg., Durban (SOLO exhibition of paintings) (opened by Prof. Hansi Pollak on 6th July, 1964)


Gallery 101, Johannesburg (SOLO exhibition of 12+ paintings) (opened by Mr Sidney Abramowitch on 17th August, 1964):

Invitation card + Exhibition catalogue + Review (possibly Vaderland) + Cecily Sash's press review


Gallery Montenapoleone, Milano (SOLO show of abstract paintings) (organised by Gallery 101) (1st October, 1964)

SA Association of Arts, Polley’s Arcade, Pretoria (opened by Mrs E Uys on 19th October, 1964)



Gallery 101 never again showed Otto Klar’s works - in 1965, in his words to the directors of Gallery 101, he stated that he had decided to revert to his naturalistic style as he did not want to rely any longer on his wife's support, alas - this in spite of having sold at least 12 works on his 1964 show!

It was stated elsewhere "He did not sustain his movement towards abstraction and retreated back to descriptive figuration that has remained popular"!

By the time he had a solo show at the Klynsmith Gallery, Johannesburg, on 4th October, 1965, or when he showed two works at the Republic Festival May 1966 Art Exhibition, he had already left the abstract direction.



Selected abstract paintings



Abstract works in selected public collections



Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria

Otto KLAR "Night Flight", 1964 - oil on panel 60x60cm acq. 69-43 (Coll. Pretoria Art Museum) (donated by the artist in 1969)

"Night Flight", 1964 - oil/panel - 60x60cm - acq. 69-43 (donated by the artist in 1969)



Durban Art Gallery, Durban

Otto KLAR "Composition - Creative Impulse", 1959 - oil/board - 62x31cm - Coll. Durban Art Gallery - acq. no. DAG 1388

"Composition - Creative Impulse", 1959 - oil/board - 62x31cm - acq. no. DAG 1388 - click on image for a better view!



Ann Bryant Art Gallery, East London

Otto KLAR "Inspired by Greek temples", 1962 - oil/hardboard - 53x50 cm - Coll. Ann Bryant Art Gallery, East London - cat.177

"Inspired by Greek temples", 1962 - oil/hardboard - 53x50 cm - cat. 177  - click on image for a better view!



WAM - Witwatersrand Art Museum, Johannesburg

Prof. Otto KLAR "Flight", 1963 - oil/board - 90x75 cm (Coll. WAM Johannesburg acc. no. 1979.31.043; Schlesinger South African Art Collection)

"Flight", 1963 - oil/board - 90x75 cm

WAM Johannesburg (The Schlesinger South African Art Collection donated in 1979) - (acc. no. 1979.31.043)



Abstract works on auctions


Otto KLAR thumb images of abstract works auctioned

click on image or see this PDF for details!


Otto KLAR "Tree bark", 1964 - oil/board - 60x44.5 cm- Lot 479

"Tree bark", 1964 - oil/board - 60x44.5 cm

Bernardi Auctioneers, Pretoria - 27th July, 2015 - Lot 063

Bernardi Auctioneers, Pretoria - 1st December, 2014 - Lot 479


Otto KLAR "Abstract" - oil/board - 29x24 cm (auctioned 2015 by Cannon & Cannon)

"Abstract" - oil/board - 29x24 cm

Cannon & Cannon, Pietermaritzburg - 26th May, 2015 - Lot 00I05150353


Otto KLAR "Red Abstract", 1964 - oil/board - 63x76 cm - Lot 446

"Red Abstract", 1964 - oil/board - 63x76 cm - Lot 446

One of 3 paintings auctioned by Stephan Welz & Co., Cape Town - SA 1603 - 7th + 8th June, 2016 (click to view all 3 works)




Selected publications


"The American-German Review" (Carl Schurz Memorial Foundation, Publ.) 1959-1961, Vol. 26-27, pp. 63-64 "Reflection on a Classic Theme - Biennale São Paulo 1959" (Otto Klar is mentioned 5 times)

"Die Hedendaagse Skilderkuns in Suid-Afrika" (Prof. Dr HM van der Westhuysen) ("Ons Erfdeel"), 1962 Nr. 3 Skilderkuns, p. 49

"Art & Artists of South Africa" (Berman) (Balkema), 1983 - pp. 236/237, one abstract work ill. - ISBN 0 86961 144 5

"The dictionary of South African Painters and Sculptors" (Ogilvie) (Everard Read), 1988, p.339 - ISBN 0 620 12663 9



Selected press articles relating to his abstract period


SA Art News, Johannesburg – 6th July, 1961, p. 12 – link to web

Rand Daily Mail, Johannesburg - 19th August, 1964

The Star, Johannesburg - 20th August, 1964

Rand Daily Mail, Johannesburg - 21st August, 1964

Die Vaderland, Johannesburg - 25th August, 1964

The Star, Johannesburg - 27th August, 1964

Dagbreek, Pretoria - 30th August, 1964

The Star, Johannesburg - 21st September, 1964, p. 18

Die Transvaler, Johannesburg - 20th October, 1964

Pretoria News, Pretori - 20th October, 1964

The Star, Johannesburg - 21st October, 1964

Die Transvaler, Johannesburg - 23rd October, 1964

The Star, Johannesburg - 12th October, 1965, p.23

The Pretoria News, Pretoria - 15th May, 1991, p. 5

Beeld PLUS, Johannesburg - 29th January, 1998, p. 8





On the 1952 solo show at Whippman's Gallery, Johannesburg, Otto KLAR included his first attempts at abstraction, the Star’s art critic naming the show „Crossroads in an artist’s career“.

In the catalogue "Contemporary Transvaal Art" of the exhibition shown at the Rhodes National Gallery, Salisbury, during December, 1958 to January, 1959, in which Otto Klar is listed with 4 works, he stated:

"During my journey to Europe last year, I met many contemporary artists with whom I had long discussions about modern art. After my return to South Africa I tried to work in this, for me, entirely new idiom and got so fascinated by the new ideas that I make it my aim to rouse the interest of the public for this kind of art".

According to a report on the annual proceedings "Veertig Jaar "Genootskap Oud-Pretoria" Tydperk 1958-1968, Prof. Otto Klar spoke about the development of modern art, before the meeting proceeded with choosing their new management.

In 1992, Otto Klar was included with one abstract work ("Night flight", 1964) in the exhibition "From the German World - German art in South Africa" held at the Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria, from 23rd September to 25th October, 1992 - ISBN 0 9583257 1 5. The catalogue entry concludes with these words: "His realistic approach to landscape painting proved so popular that he did not fulfil his considerable talent in experimental work. This work from the museum collection is a satisfying atmospheric study".

For interest's sake, a road in Secunda is named "Otto Klar Street" (besides various other artists), and one of the signatures of Otto Klar's early works pre-1939 looked like this:


Updated 20th June, 2016

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