Writing Art History Since 2002

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It has been a strange and revealing two weeks in the South African art world. The ANC’s histrionic reactions to Brett Murray’s painting at the Goodman Gallery, titled “The Spear”, persisted beyond all reason; as a case in point, the ANC orchestrated a protest March to the Goodman Gallery’s premises on Jan Smuts Avenue yesterday, even after the offending painting was removed from the gallery and owner Liza Essers offered an apology to President Zuma and his family.

Press conference. Jackson Mthembu and Liza Essers. Goodman Gallery.
An image of the work is still visible on the gallery’s website, and although its removal was not part of the Goodman’s settlement with the ANC, the political party is now calling for its removal as well. Some commentators have suggested that the furore over Murray’s artwork is a smokescreen to distract the public from more serious areas of contention with the ANC, such as continued service delivery failings and suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli’s pending murder inquest.Add to this mess two unlikely vandals, a bouquet of even less likely coincidences and Zuma’s lawyer’s courtroom tears, and what we have is a media feeding frenzy. To help our readers navigate the glut of local and international reportage and commentary on The Spear Saga, we’ve chosen ten of the best for your reading pleasure. The Spear’s day in court, Mail & Guardian: http://mg.co.za/article/2012-05-20-jury-divided-dignity-vs-freedom-of-expression

A lawyer’s tears: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/05/25/world/africa/zuma-painting-court-case/index.html

Vandal’s arrested: http://mg.co.za/article/2012-05-22-two-arrested-for-zuma-art-attack/

Ferial Haffajee of City Press apologises: http://www.citypress.co.za/Columnists/How-a-painting-divided-a-nation-20120527

Daily Maverick reports on the ANC’s march: http://dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-05-30-spear-march-anc-claims-victory-but-gallery-stands-its-groundMatthew Partridge in the Mail & Guardian: http://mg.co.za/article/2012-05-21-spare-us-the-schoolboy-satire-of-the-spearBBC comment: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-18241925

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