The Splendor Of South African Art

South African art lies at the point where African art usually started. This you can best understand from the cave and rock paintings of South African Bushmen whose aim was to give you an impression of how they used to hunt animals at that point of time. What is most fantastic is that the men depicted in South African art and rock painting share similar features with that of Asian, European and African inhabitants.

Several South African contemporary artists down the years have produced excellent rock arts and their contribution has indeed enriched the host of fabulous South African creative forms.

History of South African art

For this you need to go back hundred and thousand of years. South African men produced wonderful art objects of small drilled snail shells and this has been recently discovered from a South African cave. These shells were probably strung on to a string to make a wear of the neck (necklace).

Then came an intervention, which made South African art even more stunning and special. The Khoisan/San/Bushman tribes entered South Africa and started displaying their artistic genius in fluent art forms. This is however, quite evident from several South African cave paintings. Next, it was the turn of Bantu/Nguni tribes who arrived with their own exclusive art forms and this added much strength and variety to the art collections of South Africa.

In the present day, a variety of new and innovative art forms has taken the towns and mines on a stride. These art forms have immeasurable dynamism and they are successfully used for bicycle spokes to strips made from plastic. Much has changed with the introduction of the folk art of the sturdy Afrikaner Trek Boers. These South African art no doubt bears significant Dutch influence.

Locally-rooted South African art

At the time of colonial era, artists of South Africa seriously concentrated on depicting the details of the “new world” with utmost perfection and accuracy. Artists such as Thomas Baines immensely traveled to all parts of South Africa, took into account the treasures of fauns, people, landscape and flora, and demonstrated them beautifully through their art forms.

At the verge of the 19th century, painters like Jan Volschenk and Hugo Naudé and sculptor Anton van Wouw with the help of their creation attempted to give form to a locally rooted art. However, this form of South African art was a form of momentary art, which reflected the condition and status of South Africa in 1910. Thus, such an art form cannot be considered as a cultural symbol. It can only be regarded as the symbol of an age.

A different aspect of the art

In 1930, two women artists Maggie Laubscher and Irma Stern wonderfully made use of the technologies and sensibilities of post-impressionism and expressionism to gift an almost different form of subjective expression to South African art. Their bold interplay with color and composition and their personal way of viewing the art was contradictory to the established and acceptable art form.

On the other hand, budding artists like Gregoire Boonzaier, Maud Sumner and Moses Kottler had lots to rejoice with their fresh conception and zeal of cosmopolitanism with which they could successfully influence South African art forms.

Art during the apartheid years

The period from 1948 to 1994 is generally referred to as the apartheid years in South African history. This is the time when South African art witnessed an immense diversity ranging from paintings based on landscape to abstract art forms. The art has also gone through political influences at times, which has been aptly tackled with sheer vigor and insight.

New infusions also influenced South African art after the completion of the Second World War. For example the Austrian artist Jean Welz in 1940, introduced sophistication in style to several still lives, portraits, nudes and landscape paintings.

Thus, from time to time South African art has been much influenced with the waves of social, economical and political changes and this has given the art its particular style quite distinct to other art forms.

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