Biography

Gerhard Marx ( 1956 - )

Gerhard Marx is a South African artist, author, amateur botanist and succulent horticulturalist.
His versatile artwork ranges from detailed watercolour renderings of succulents to arid landscapes, abstracts, caricature and paleontological reconstructions in various media.
He is the author of the formal publications of several new succulent taxa and produces numerous articles on succulents in popular succulent-botanical journals internationally. Haworthia marxii was named in honour of him in recognition of his specific interest and research.
His paintings are represented in local and overseas private collections as well as in the collections of Standard Bank and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
Since 1984 numerous botanical publications featured illustrations by Gerhard Marx, including more than 25 cover illustrations for the USA Cactus and Succulent Journal, cover illustrations for two Haworthia books by M.B. Bayer as well as several stamp designs and commemorative envelopes. In 1992 he was also selected as one of six botanical artists to participate in 'Arts meets Science' graphic art travelling exhibition sponsored by Standard Bank.
His palaeontological artwork (two and three dimensional reconstructions) can be seen at the Albany Museum, Natural History in Grahamstown and at the Kitching Museum in Nieu Bethesda.

Gerhard was born in Germiston, Gauteng in 1956, spent most of his early years in the Northwest Province and matriculated in Mpumalanga. He completed his B.A. Fine Arts degree at the University of Pretoria in1979 and worked as children’s book illustrator for three years which was interrupted by compulsory military service during 1983 and 1984. 

Since 1984 numerous botanical publications featured illustrations by Gerhard Marx, including more than 25 cover illustrations for the USA Cactus and Succulent Journal, cover illustrations for two Haworthia books by M.B. Bayer as well as several stamp designs and commemorative envelopes. In 1992 he was also selected as one of six botanical artists to participate in 'Arts meets Science' graphic art travelling exhibition sponsored by Standard Bank.
His palaeontological artwork (two and three dimensional reconstructions) can be seen at the Albany Museum, Natural History in Grahamstown and at the Kitching Museum in Nieu Bethesda.  

From 1985 to 1999 Gerhard worked at the Albany Museum in Grahamstown as exhibitions artist and illustrator.
An employment offer to work as plant propagator and botanical illustrator at Arid lands nursery in Tucson, Arizona involved the period between 1999 and 2002. 
Since 2003 Gerhard has been living and working near Oudtshoorn in the Little Karoo, South Africa, as artist and illustrator while also publishing research on succulents and propagating a selection of rare succulents in a 6 X 30 metre greenhouse. 

Acrylic painting: Pachypodium namaquanum, Umdaus.

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Paleontological artwork:

During 1995 Gerhard was commissioned by the Albany Museum to produce both two and three-dimensional reconstructions of South African prehistoric animals and environments for the museum’s new paleontology gallery. The reconstructions had to be as scientifically correct as possible and each reconstruction was based upon the study of original fossils or fossil casts. Geologist and paleontologist Dr Billy de Klerk provided the scientific material and data and ensured the correct interpretation thereof. Each set of preparatory drawings were also sent to paleontologists in the USA, Europe and Australia for corrective comments. The final reconstructions were only done once general approval of the preparatory drawings from all the scientific experts was received.
The first and largest of the three dimensional life-size reconstructions was that of the 5-metre long South African Stegosaur, Paranthodon africanus. 
This was followed by lifesize reconstructions of the prosauropod dinosaur Massospondylus, the coelophysid Dinosaur Syntarsus and the dicynodont Lystrosaurus. Various two-dimensional painted panels depicting scientifically accurate reconstructions of Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian and Triassic landscapes were also excecuted by Gerhard for the gallery.  
Building Paranthodon:

Modelling and carving
Adding color


Finishing touches.


Massospondylus carinatus:

Fiberglass cast photographed in Museum garden.

Detail of head




Two-dimensional artwork:

Cistecephalus zone 


Detail: Rubidgea atrox.


Drawing Bradysaurus on Upper Permian panel
Completed Upper Permian scene.



The Eodicynodon Zone featuring Eodicynodon ( front) and Tapinocaninus (back). 


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Abstract painting:


The style of semi-abstract painting that Gerhard developed as an art student can also be seen as simply a synopsis of his passion for the South African veld.
These abstract paintings mostly consisted of  decorative ‘emblems’ depicting the essential textures, shapes and characters of intimate landscape details. 

Centrifugal Trio

Landscape Emblem


Bushveld night



Royal couple

African dusk.


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Botanical watercolor paintings:


"Painting is for me simply a tool that enables me to channel and communicate my enthusiasm. My passion for succulent plants is a dominating presence in my life and therefore it is only natural that I would document my observations of these ‘living sculptures’. My interest in the plants also extends beyond artistic appreciation and I am finding much pleasure in doing some field research and publishing my observations in popular scientific articles. These regular field excursions offer the opportunity to become intimately familiar with the plants as they live and survive in the wild and generate a valuable data bank of conscious and subconscious impressions that also influence my interpretations of the plants when painting them. “

* Quotation from ’ Gerhard Marx : A Novel approach to Botanical Art’.
The Bushman’s Candles by Charles Craib and John Lavranos. Penrock Publications. 2010.


Monsonia patersonii

Haworthia groenewaldii

Blossfeldia liliputana

Haworthia agnis

Aloe longistyla

Gasteria excelsa

Haworthia magnifica/maraisii.








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Caricature illustration and various other samples:


During his final two years as Fine Arts student at the University of Pretoria Gerhard started doing freelance illustrations for children’s books and continued doing that for three years after graduating. What started off as a way to earn pocket money as an art student soon became an almost full-time freelance occupation for a brief period after graduating.
During 1983 the production of children’s book illustrations came to an abrupt stop due to two years compulsory military service.
During this period in the military Gerhard was also employed as artist and most of the work consisted of caricature artwork that formed part of military training lectures and films. The caricature-like illustration style that he developed as children’s book illustrator now became tailored towards a more mature audience. Upon completion of the military period Gerhard accepted the post of exhibitions artist at the Albany Museum in Grahamstown and for the next fifteen years this occupied the bulk of his productive time.
During these years at the museum he was also frequently asked to produce caricature artwork for publications. During 1992 he did 52 caricatures illustrating lower Albany district country folk tales and humouristic anecdotes that had been compiled by Brian Wilmot, director of the Albany Museum at the time. These were published in a booklet named ‘L.A. Lore’.

Children's book illustration:

 Military caricature:
 Personal symbolism:

 Others:









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CONSERVATION PROJECTS:

As amateur botanist and passionate succulent plant enthusiast Gerhard gradually developed a rather detailed knowledge about the natural distribution of succulent species. In a number of cases the plants are critically rare and endangered. Such cases were reported and discussed with local nature conservation authorities. Since the threat in most cases were domestic farm animals and  farming activities, the solution seemed very simple and cheap: such populations could be fenced as small ' nature reserves' to protect the plants from agricultural activities and animals and in the hope of discouraging poachers. Because the average population of these rare succulents are not much bigger than a tennis court, such reserves could be erected without having to purchase the land from the owner and at relatively low cost. Most landowners were very willing to give permission and were even quite proud of the fact that their property contained such a valuable natural feature.
This resulted in the advising and assisting of several such small conservation projects in collaboration with Western Districts Divisional Council (Previously Algoa Divisional Council) Dept. of Nature Conservation, Provincial Nature Conservation and The Euphorbiaceae Study Group and The British Cactus and Succulent Society . These involved the following species: Euphorbia valida, Euphorbia obesa, Euphorbia polycephala, Haworthia woolleyii, Haworthia sordida, Haworthia springbokvlakensis, Haworthia splendens, Haworthia bruynsii, Aloe bowieae, Orthopterum coeganum, Pleiospilos simulans, Euphorbia astrophora and Euphorbia brevirama.


Erection of fenced reserve for Haworthia magnifica var splendens near Albertinia being overseen by Martin Scott. 

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