oa Africa Insight - Black artists, white patrons: The cross-cultural art market in urban South Africa

Volume 20, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



This article is based on the premise that the concept of fine art was a white import to black Africa. Objects of great skill and beauty have of course been produced for many centuries, works fulfilling practical or symbolic functions integral to African social structures, but a concept of art divorced from specific social needs, especially easel painting produced as a commodity to be bought and sold on the open market, had no place in black tradition. The foreign nature of commodified art is a factor which, together with socio-economic circumstances, helps to explain why black art of this type has rarely found black patrons, but is sold almost entirely in a white market in South Africa.

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