South African National Gallery

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South African National Gallery
South Africa National Gallery.jpg
South African National Gallery
South African National Gallery is located in Cape Town
South African National Gallery
Location within central Cape Town
Established 3 November 1930; 84 years ago (3 November 1930)
Location Government Avenue, Company's Garden, Cape Town, South Africa
Coordinates 33°55′44″S 18°25′02″E / 33.928980°S 18.417180°E / -33.928980; 18.417180Coordinates: 33°55′44″S 18°25′02″E / 33.928980°S 18.417180°E / -33.928980; 18.417180
Type Art Museum

The South African National Gallery is the national art gallery of South Africa located in Cape Town. Its collection consists largely of Dutch, French and British works from the 17th to the 19th century. This includes lithographs, etchings and some early 20th-century British paintings. Contemporary art work displayed in the gallery is selected from many of South Africa's communities and the gallery houses an authoritative collection of sculpture and beadwork.


SANG from Hatfield Street

At a meeting in the Cape Town Public Library, convened on 12 October 1850, proposals were discussed to erect a building in the Company's Garden for the purpose of exhibiting art.[1] This occasion was the inaugural meeting of the South African Fine Arts Association, founded by Thomas Butterworth Bayley and Abraham de Schmidt.[2] The Association went on to arrange the first ever exhibition of fine art in South Africa. This took place on 10 May 1851 in the school rooms in the Company's Garden in Cape Town. Its primary raison d'être remained the establishing of a permanent home for a National collection.[1]

The National collection was founded in 1872 with a bequest of paintings from the estate of Thomas Butterworth Bayley.[1] In 1875 the Association was able to purchase premises in the current Queen Victoria Street where the nucleus of the Art Gallery was exhibited. By the South African Art Gallery Act of 1895 the South African Government took over the collection in trust and purchased the premises from the Association for R12 000. A board of five trustees were elected in 1896 to manage the collection.[1]

The National Gallery Act made provision for the building of new premises, but foundations were only laid in 1914. The collection was kept in a wing of the South African Museum from 1900 and the current building only officially opened to the public on 3 November 1930, by the Earl of Athlone.[1]

Notable contributions by Dr Alfred de Pass, Sir Abe Bailey, Sir Edmund and Lady Davis and Lady Michaelis expanded the scope of the collection over the years. In 1937, the building was expanded to accommodate purchases that included South African artists. The first pieces by South African artists, by Anton van Wouw (African Head) and Neville Lewis (Adderley Street Flower-sellers), had been purchased in 1926.[1]

Numinous Beast by Bruce Arnott, 1978

Contemporary exhibitions (non-exhaustive) 2010[edit]

1910 - 2010 From Pierneef to Gugulective: A Fresh Look at a Century of South African Art Us

Almost Equal To

Curated by Riason Naidoo, Iziko South African National Gallery reopens after six weeks with a comprehensive re-hang of the entire gallery. The exhibition reflects on South Africa's contribution to Modern and Contemporary art with a diverse selection of work charting the scope of artistic production in the country over the last century. Visitors can look forward to seminal pieces by early twentieth-century artists like Gerard Benghu and Jacob Hendrik Pierneef, through to contemporary artists like Robin Rhode, Mary Sibanda, Andrew Putter and the Gugulective.

Us curated by Bettina Malcomess and Simon Njami, is a continuation of a show that took place in 2009 at Johannesburg Art Gallery. It takes as its starting point the xenophobic violence of May 2008 and focusses on the 'twin' - that which is the same but different - as its central motif. The exhibition explores issues such as aspiration, ownership and security; the connectedness of immigration, trade and movement in Africa; national identity and leadership; the representation of sexuality and desire; and the constitution of religious community. It also reflects on the notion of the African Contemporary itself, as well as the museum's own display of traditional and art objects.

As it is re-configured at Iziko South African National Gallery, it forms an integral part of the re-hang of the collection, '1910 to 2010: from Pierneef to Gugulective'. It will shift and change over the six-month period in which it is displayed with the addition of new works, artists and curatorial interventions. In addition a Show within a Show within a Show (>>>) At The End Of The Day is a work presented concurrently by the Museum of Contemporary Art (South Africa).

Dada South Iziko.jpg

Contemporary exhibitions (non-exhaustive) 2008[edit]

grand opening

Touching Moments

Curated by Loyiso Qanya, Lerato Bereng, Nonkululeko Mlangeni, Bongani Mkhonza and Ntando Xorile.

"Procedure, after all, has been followed in each case, and, as any bureaucrat will tell you, this is much more important than the phantom stuff of truth"

Tom Morton, 2005. Maurizio Cattelan: Infinite Jester, in The artist’s joke, 2007, edited by Jennifer Higgie. London, Cambridge: MIT, Whitechapel: 205-211.

Permanent collection artists (non-exhaustive)[edit]

Dan Halter, Willem Boshoff, Barend de Wet, Kathryn Smith, Jane Alexander (The Butcher Boys), Alan Davie, Marlene Dumas, Robert Hodgins, William Kentridge, Ronald Kitaj, Michael Porter, Gerard Sekoto, Penny Siopis, Irma Stern, John Walker, Moses Kottler, Lippy Lipshitz


  1. ^ a b c d e f Berman, Esmé (2010). Art and Artists of South Africa. Cape Town: G3 Publishers. pp. 376–379. ISBN 978-1-86812-345-2. 
  2. ^ Goodnow, Katherine (2006). Challenge and Transformation: Museums in Cape Town and Sydney. Paris: Berghahn Books. ISBN 978-92-3-202816-7. 

External links[edit]