New history of SA National Gallery


Image result for Written by Marilyn Martin, a former director of the South African National Gallery, Between Dreams and RealitiesBetween Dreams and Realities: a history of the SA National Gallery 1871 to 2017 by Marilyn Martin – former director and respected art historian. Between Dreams and Realities. A History of the South African National Gallery, 1871 – 2017, AUTHOR: Marilyn Martin, FOREWORD: Albie Sachs, PUBLISHER: Print Matters Heritage

Written by Marilyn Martin, a former director of the South African National Gallery, Between Dreams and Realities tells the engaging story of South Africa’s pre-eminent art museum. Based on extensive research and experience, this book revisits important exhibitions, events and forgotten controversies; it highlights the achievements of directors, who often faced political agendas and strained relationships within and outside the institution.

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The book’s narrative begins in 1871, with a bequest of forty-five paintings and money for the establishment of a public art gallery in Cape Town, and ends in 2017, a time of extraordinary changes in South Africa’s art and museum sectors. Richly illustrated with key artworks, installation shots and photographs of individuals and groups, Between Dreams and Realities considers the aspirations and role of civil society in creating and maintaining a national institution for the common good.

Concurrently, the book examines long-standing government disinterest and neglect for the museum and the difficulties that confronted directors in acquiring a collection worthy of its status. It also tells the story of excellent public cooperation and support, and of boards of trustees, directors and staff together overcoming the realities of budget cuts, government interference and severe space constraints.

Peer reviewers firmly acknowledge and support issues raised, and the crucial role that a cultural institution such as the South African National Gallery plays in our society.

‘For the first time within the South African art historical discipline we have here an all-encompassing text by a respected art- and architectural historian who has the courage to boldly tackle and address key and controversial issues pertaining to art-political minefields and the frequent lack of support by the State, past and present, regarding the arts in this country.’ Eunice Basson

‘As chronicled here, SANG’s history is told as one of a triumph over adversity, and I agree with Martin that given the museum’s precarious status at present, the book provides a convincing argument for its crucial importance as a cultural institution. By charting its history, Martin concludes with her hope that it provides a road map for its future as well.’ Pamela Allara

‘It is my dream that this book will disrupt the prevailing narrative and apathy, alert the custodians of our heritage and cultural wealth to the problems and opportunities, and also galvanise them into action. This, combined with renewed public interest, participation and support, can contribute to the revival of the South African National Gallery, an august institution for all.’ States the author.


Image result for director of the South African National Gallery, Marilyn Martin
Marilyn Martin

After eleven years as director of the South African National Gallery, Marilyn Martin was appointed the director of art collections for Iziko Museums in 2001. She retired in 2008 and has since worked as an independent writer, curator and lecturer. She is an Honorary Research Associate at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. In 2002 Martin was admitted to the Legion of Honour of the Republic of France at the rank of Officer and in 2013 she received the medal of the Fondation Alliance Française in Paris.

The book will be officially launched at The Book Lounge on Tuesday 23 July when Marilyn will be in conversation with Sean O’Toole (5:30 pm) but in addition, there will be talks at the following venues:
Cape Town
– 31 July SA Jewish Museum at Gardens Community Centre in conversation with Jon and Paul Weinberg
– 17 August Irma Stern Museum in conversation with Mike van Graan
– 21 August Iziko SA Museum, TH Barry Lecture Theatre in conversation with Jane Taylor
– 31 August Norval Foundation, Steenberg in conversation with Jane Taylor

For further information, request for interviews and pictures please contact:
Beryl Eichenberger, / 082 490 6652
Or Publisher Print matters
Robin Stuart –Clark, / 083 280 0237

Beryl Eichenberger
021 556 5597
082 490 6652
Publishing Print matters

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