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FFrom the rock art of the San to the most recent contemporary museum in Cape Town, ZEITZ MOCAA, South Africa’s history of art is a long and interesting one. Often this history is closely tied to the political landscape, and most times reflects that landscape.
Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Park (recognised by UNESCO as a mixed cultural and World Heritage site) boasts the largest group of rock paintings to be found in sub-Saharan Africa. This can be considered the earliest examples of visual art, with subject matter that extends beyond the simple visual representations of day-to-day life towards a representation of spiritual and religious beliefs of the San people.
One of the oldest galleries in the country, the Goodman Gallery, situated in Johannesburg, was established in 1966 by Linda Givon. It quickly became an important instrument towards challenging the Apartheid laws that sought to segregate black and white people through all spheres of ordinary life, including arts and culture. In the early years, the gallery presented exhibitions by black artists such as David Koloane, Dumile Feni and Sydney Khumalo, who went on to play an active role in the creation and sustenance of The Federated Union of Black Artists (FUBA), established in 1978. Its main purpose was to collaboratively work with artists of different disciplines, particularly around issues of ownership and distribution. The Goodman Gallery remains a critical vessel through which to explore art history in relation to commerce.