Apartheid Art In South Africa, the liberation struggle movement (or “liberation movement”) lasted from the 1960s to the 1990s. Initially, the State saw this movement as a benefit, because it would prove the government’s success at separating the races into two separate environments. But as the movement grew exponentially and influenced greater numbers of people, the State reacted violently. In the arts, this meant enforced censorship and strict control of art displays and cultural institutions. A number of schools of thought were formed during this time in an effort to express people’s protest against the racial oppression of the authoritarian South African government. One movement wanted to use art as a weapon to express po- litical opinions to come together as a community. Some artists felt that they could not deny the reality of living in an oppressive society, and they believed their art needed to reflect the injustices of state repression. The artists of the liberation struggle wanted to create a new revolutionary culture. An event that was viewed as a catalyst during this time was the Sharpeville massacre of 1960, in which 69 people were killed and 180 others injured during an apartheid protest. It is seen as one of the most important turning points in the history of South Africa, and it highlighted the growing divide between white and black South Africans.

This painting, by Godfrey Rubens, depicts the Sharpeville massacre.


drawing and painting

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