inside sanlam's extraordinary century of art collecting


A new exhibition currently up at the Sanlam Art Lounge at 11 Alice Lane in Sandton, Johannesburg, reveals the story of 100 years of the Sanlam Art Collection — one of the country's most comprehensive and valuable art collections. Centennial showcases some of the standout pieces from the collection, including works by William Kentridge, Elza Botha, Gerard Sekoto, George Pemba, Leonard Matsoso, Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi, Dumile Feni, David Koloane, Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi, Richard Mudariki, Maggie Laubser and Irma Stern.

Curator Stefan Hundt explained how the vast exhibition has been designed. 'The Sanlam collection holds some 2 000 items in a diversity of media,' Hundt says. 'From traditional painting, sculpture and printmaking right through to installations and video- based artworks.' 'There are two principles that provide the themes and subthemes for this exhibition: the first being that the exhibition should contain works that in some way or another reflect the socio-political transformation in South Africa over the century. The second is how art/aesthetic thinking has changed over this century as reflected by a selection of artworks from the Sanlam Art Collection.'

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Hundt says that the opportunity to put the works in one space is a big moment for the public, who haven't yet had the opportunity to see it all collected together. 'Sanlam has built a successful business in South Africa over 100 years. Without the support of its stakeholders, Sanlam would not have achieved this.  To build an art collection is to invest in care for the country’s unique culture. By sharing it with everyone, Sanlam provides the opportunity for people to engage with art, to recognize its value as a vehicle for engagement between individuals on all levels about the most pleasing and disastrous aspects of our society. Sharing art means sharing visions, which when acknowledged and appreciated, become the building blocks for social cohesion and a better future for generations to come.' The exhibition is open to the public from 5 September to 14 December at the Sanlam Art Lounge at 11 Alice Lane in Sandton.