The art of South Africa

Over the last two centuries, artists in South Africa have responded to European colonialism in different ways.

19th - 20th century

videos + essays

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Thethana, South Sotho artist
Thethana, South Sotho artist

Arts of adornment, like the thethana, have the amazing ability to function as signifiers of social belonging and individual status.

uKhahlamba Drakensberg rock paintings (San)
uKhahlamba Drakensberg rock paintings (San)

This spectacular natural site contains many caves and rock-shelters with the largest and most concentrated group of paintings in Africa south of the Sahara.

Jane Alexander, <em>Butcher Boys</em>
Jane Alexander, Butcher Boys

To acknowledge the truly violent nature of humankind is to implicate one’s self in a relationship to such atrocities.

Married Woman’s Apron (Ndebele peoples)
Married Woman’s Apron (Ndebele peoples)

These decorated aprons were gifts from the groom’s family to his wife, and signified her new role in society.

William Kentridge, drawing from <em>Tide Table (Soho in Deck Chair)</em>
William Kentridge, drawing from Tide Table (Soho in Deck Chair)

Why watch the tides when you can read about it in the newspaper? Kentridge comments on social class in this drawing.

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