Jane Alexander (artist)

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Jane Alexander
Born 1959
Johannesburg, South Africa
Nationality South African
Notable work The Butcher Boys

Jane Alexander (born 1959)[1] is a South African female artist and sculptor best known for her sculpture, The Butcher Boys, which can be considered her response to the state of emergency in South Africa in the late 1980s. She creates sculptures, installations, and photomontages which are based on her own perceptions of actual events, people, or social and economic issues that occur in the world around her.[2] Most of her pieces are based and influenced on the political and social overview of South Africa.[3]


Alexander's sculpture, The Butcher Boys, on display in the National Gallery of Arts in Cape Town

Alexander was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1959. Growing up, she was not too aware of all the political issues that surrounded her, but upon the time she entered university and moved to Braamfontein she became more aware of the social and political issues that were present in South Africa. Her interest in these issues influenced her subsequent installations and art pieces.[4]

Alexander attended the University of the Witwatersrand where she obtained a bachelor's degree and a Master of Arts in Fine Arts in 1982 and 1988. During the course of her Masters, Alexander produced one of her most recognizable pieces of art; The Butcher Boys. The Butcher Boys is a sculpture of three men sitting on a bench that have peculiar appearances made out of plaster. The piece represents the bestiality in human disturbance and violence.[3] In an article in the New York Times, Holland Cotter describes that "their bodies, white-skinned and muscular, are superb, but with suture lines running from navel to throat, also disturbing".[5] Alexander currently lectures on sculpture, photography and drawing at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town. The piece has one of the most widespread recognition in the South African National Gallery.[3]


Public exhibitions[edit]

Alexander's works have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in both South Africa and abroad. Overseas galleries which have exhibited her work include the Gasworks Gallery in London, Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) in Frankfurt/Main, La Maison Rouge in Paris, the International Center of Photography in New York City and Moderna Museet in Stockholm.


Jane Alexander has won several awards during her career as a solo and group artist. Alexander has work displayed in several public collections, including the South African National Gallery, Tatham Art Gallery, Johannesburg Art Gallery, and the public collection at University of Witwatersrand.[2]

Alexander's awards include:

  • 1982 - National Fine Arts Student Award[4]
  • 1982 - Martienssen Student Prize[6]
  • 1995 - Standard Bank Young Artist Award[4]
  • 1996 - Joint winner of the First National Bank Artist of the Year[6]
  • 1996 - The FNB Vita Art Now Award[4]
  • 2002 - DaimlerChrysler Award[4]


  1. ^ "Jane Alexander". South African History Online. Retrieved 2015-12-05. 
  2. ^ a b "A feature on an artist in the public eye Jane Alexander". Artthrob Contemporary Art in South Africa. 1999. 
  3. ^ a b c Anonymous. "Jane Alexander". www.sahistory.org.za. Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Biography of Jane ALEXANDER". African Success. 17 October 2008. Retrieved 2015-12-05. 
  5. ^ Cotter, Holland (2013). "The Beast in the Human, and Vice Versa Jane Alexander's Work at St. John the Divine". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ a b www.lesideesnet.com, Les Idées Net -. "African Success : Biography of Jane ALEXANDER". www.africansuccess.org. Retrieved 2016-03-05. 

External links[edit]