The accompanying title to the recent Museum exhibition, South Africa: the art of a nation, 27 October 2016 – 26 February 2017.
This titles explores the fascinating history of South Africa through its vibrant art scene.
In recent decades, archaeologists in South Africa have discovered some of the world’s oldest artworks – extraordinary examples of humankind’s first artistic endeavours. Today, South Africa enjoys a vibrant, often politicized contemporary art scene, one that draws on both the recent and the more distant past to comment on the present.
Taking as its point of departure the Makapansgat Pebble, thought to be the oldest art object ever to have been found, South Africa: 3 million years of art explores the history of South Africa through a selection of its artworks, paying particular attention not only to their relationship to one another, but also to their connections to key episodes in the nation’s evolution.
By setting up a dialogue between past and present, between art objects old and new, the book offers a refreshingly novel way of looking at the history of South Africa, a story that begins many millennia before the creation of the modern republic.
John Giblin: is Head of the African collection at the British Museum.
Chris Spring: is curator of the contemporary African art and the eastern and southern African collection at the British Museum.