n De Arte - Pottering around in Africa : Erich Mayer's search for an indigenous South African style as exemplified in his ceramic designs : research




This article investigates the ideas, ideals and contribution of the German-Jewish artist Erich Mayer, who was born in Germany in 1876. He settled in South Africa in 1898, where he developed an affinity with the early Boer pioneers living in the rural areas.

Mayer's background was solidly European as he was trained at the various art academies of Germany. Shortly after settling in South Africa, he realised that a knowledge of European art history or, indeed, any awareness of an aesthetic consciousness concerning the fine and applied arts was sadly lacking within South African society in general. His interest in arts and crafts prompted him to conduct research into and document examples of folk art among the different cultural groups in South Africa in an attempt to establish an aesthetic awareness in South Africans. Mayer was of the opinion that the development and marketing of these cultural objects and artefacts would contribute towards a uniquely indigenous South African national character and artistic style.


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