19 August 2014 by Stuart Dickinson

A brush with South Africa’s art galleries

There are a number of world-renowned art galleries scattered around the country, showcasing the work of old masters as well as emerging contemporary talent. Get a healthy dose of artistic culture at these fine galleries ...

The Johannesburg Art Gallery. Image courtesy of Janek Szymanowski/Wikimedia Commons

It was American writer Thomas Merton who said, 'Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.'

Whether we admire the aesthetics behind an artistic creation, or appreciate how the history of humankind has been captured on canvas, in wood or on stone, art holds a significant place in South African culture.

There are a number of world-renowned art galleries scattered around South Africa ...

Wits Art Museum

While home to a number of historically significant African artworks, the Wits Art Museum (WAM) is also host to diverse art exhibitions and events. The museum is located in the trendy area of Braamfontein, where you’ll also find a number of interesting shops and places to eat close by.

At the moment, WAM is featuring the exhibition, ijusi – Design based in African experience, which runs until 14 September.

Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm.

Click here for directions

Johannesburg Art Gallery

The Johannesburg Art Gallery’s impressive collection of 17th-century Dutch paintings, 18th - and 19th-century British and European art, and its 19th-century South African works are housed within 15 exhibition rooms and sculpture gardens. As the biggest gallery on the subcontinent, it contains over 9 000 works of art.

Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Gerard Sekoto, Walter Battiss, Rodin, Henry Moore, William Kentridge and Sydney Kumalo are just some of the world-renowned artists you can expect to see featured here.

Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm.

Click here for directions

The Johannesburg Art Gallery houses a vast and fascinating collection of international and local art. Image courtesy of Johannesburg Art Gallery

Pretoria Art Museum

Work by Pierneef is among the notable collection at the Pretoria Art Museum. Copyright notice: Pierneef, Oliwenhuis Art Museum

Located in Arcadia, the Pretoria Art Museum itself is a sight to behold, taking up an entire city block. It focuses primarily on South African art, including South African old masters like Hugo Naude, JH Pierneef, Irma Stern and Maggie Laubser.

Book a guided tour for a minimum of 10 people to get a comprehensive breakdown on South African art, or wander the museum in your own time, enjoying the modern and rural art features and innovative techniques used to display them.

Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm.

Click here for directions

Knysna Fine Art

If you’re travelling along South Africa’s scenic Garden Route, you’ll want to pay a visit to the Knysna Fine Art gallery. Owned by Trent Read, son of the late famed art dealer Everard Read, it specialises in contemporary art in a variety of different media, working closely with vendors and collectors to present a special collection to the public.

Recent sales include major works by Gerard Sekoto, Pierneef, Lucas Sithole and Robert Hodgins.

Open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm.

Click here for directions

The AVA Gallery

The AVA Gallery is Cape Town’s oldest non-profit art gallery and takes pride in showcasing contemporary South African art across all media. It is also known for having a diverse exhibition schedule that changes once a month, while nurturing young artistic talent through this exposure.

Open Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, and Saturday 10am to 1pm.

Click here for directions

Goodman Gallery

Established in 1966, the Goodman Gallery has been at the forefront of contemporary art in South Africa for decades. Its exhibition halls in Johannesburg and Cape Town house the work of luminaries like Kentridge, Kendell Geers and David Goldblatt, as well as the modern artistic voices we see in each new generation.

The artworks seen at the Goodman tell the stories of South Africa, and the gallery was very involved in providing a platform for artists otherwise silenced by the apartheid regime.

Open Tuesday to Friday 9.30am to 5.30pm, and Saturday 10am to 4pm.

Click here for directions (Johannesburg)

Click here for directions (Cape Town)

Of course, these are only a handful of great art galleries in South Africa. Let us know some of your favourites in the comments section below.

South African sculptor Jackson Hlongwane's Altarpiece at the Wits Art Museum. Image courtesy of the Wits Art Museum

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