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Christo Coetzee (24 March 1929 – 12 November 2000) was born on 24 March 1929 at 54 Biccard Street, Turffontein, Johannesburg. Christo attended Parkview Primary School and then Parktown Boys’ High School, where he became an enthusiastic art student.
In the years 1946 to 1950 he attended the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), where his fellow students were Larry Scully, Cecil Skotnes, Esmé Berman, Nel Erasmus, Ruth Allen (Furness), Gordon Vorster, Anna Vorster and Gerda Meyer (Eloff).With Scully, Skotnes, Vorster and Erasmus, he would become part of the so-called Wits group, a loosely knit group better known for their subsequent careers than any coherent aesthetic philosophy. At Wits Christo designed decor and costumes for drama productions. Influential teachers were Charles Argent, Maria Stein-Lessing, Heather Martienssen, and Marjorie Long, who would become his first wife.
After graduation from Wits with a degree in fine art in 1951, Christo Coetzee had his first solo exhibition in January of that year. This exhibition was opened by South African National Gallery director John Paris, and featured portraits in Victorian daguerreotype style.
Coetzee was a South African assemblage and Neo-Baroque artist closely associated with the avant-garde art movements of Europe and Japan during the 1950s and 1960s. Under the influence of art theorist Michel Tapié, art dealer Rodolphe Stadler and art collector and photographer Anthony Denney, as well as the Gutai group of Japan, he developed his oeuvre alongside those of artists strongly influenced by Tapié’s Un Art Autre (1952).