South Africa 3 Million Years of Art

South Africa

the art of a nation

(In association with The British Museum)
  1. John Giblin
  2. Chris Spring
  • ISBN 9780500519066
  • 25.00 x 22.00 cm
  • Hardback
  • 256pp
  • 200 Illustrations, 200 in colour
  • over 200 illustrations
  • First published 2016

An all-embracing history of art in South Africa, from the iconic artefacts of the country’s first kingdoms to its vibrant contemporary art scene

Accompanies the exhibition at the British Museum, London, showing from 27 October 2016 to 26 February 2017

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.

Published to accompany a major new exhibition at the British Museum, South Africa: 3 Million Years of Art provides a welcome change of perspective on the story of a once-troubled yet resolutely forward-looking nation – by telling that story through its art.

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.