South Africa: The Art of a Nation

Giblin, John & . Thames & Hudson. Dec. 2016. 216p. illus. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780500519066. $55. FINE ARTS
The British Museum has mounted a comprehensive exhibition of art from South Africa. Beginning with some of the oldest art in human history, it traces the complex and often devastating history of South Africa to the present. This accompaniment to the show provides much more than the descriptive commentary typical of a catalog. The authors delve into the meaning behind the objects and emphasize how the imagery and events of the various historical eras have fed subsequent generations of expression. The range of art includes objects from early prehistory, several indigenous peoples, European settlers, the colonial and apartheid periods, and more extensively, recent and contemporary objects. British Museum African art curators Giblin and Spring deftly handle the troubling and sensitive political and military South African history that goes back several centuries. The text is generously accompanied by maps, historical photographs, and color images of many of the exhibition's artworks.
VERDICT While other books focus more comprehensively on the traditional indigenous art of the many peoples of the region, the scope of this volume makes it invaluable to readers interested in the subject.
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