Kottler, Moses

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KOTTLER, MOSES (c. 1892–1977), South African sculptor. Born in Joniskis, Lithuania, probably in 1892 but possibly up to four years later, Kottler went to South Africa in 1912 and except for a period of study in Europe and Jerusalem after World War i, spent the rest of his life there. Kottler's qualities, among them a vein of poetic simplicity, were apparent in his early portraiture and modeling. His life-size wood carving, Meidjie, a portrayal of girlhood, marked the beginning of his reputation. His bronze group of Sir Quentin Brand and Sir Pierre van Ryneveld, commemorating their flight from London to Cape Town in 1920, is at the Johannesburg airport. His architectural figures for the Johannesburg Public Library aroused controversy but won acceptance for their monumental strength. Still more acute controversy followed the installation of his nude group at the Population Register Building in Pretoria and led to its removal. Kottler was also commissioned to provide ornamental sculpture for Johannesburg mining houses and in 1967 to do a war memorial for the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Kottler's many portraits include busts of Smuts and the shah of Persia. He was often inspired by biblical subjects, such as Jacob and the Angel, and David and the Shunammite.

add. bibliography:

E. Berman, Arts and Artists of South Africa (1993).

[Lewis Sowden]