Cape Town Triennials, Exhibition date: July 2013 to June 2014


The contemporary exhibition in the La Motte Museum features a selection of the very well-known and often debated Cape Town Triennials. In total four Triennials were held between 1982 and 1992, one every third year.

In 1981, the Rembrandt van Rijn Art Foundation, working in association with the Art Museums of South Africa, undertook sponsorship of a competition to encourage artists to extend themselves; and to select from entries submitted throughout the country a collection that would represent the finest of works. The exhibition with the chosen collection would then tour the country for the duration of a year, visiting eight centers in total. This important national art event did pioneering work and offered artists countrywide the opportunity to present their work to a wider public.

Many artists represented in the Triennials have since established themselves amongst the most eminent in South Africa. From the start the Rembrandt van Rijn Art Foundation acquired prize-winning and various selected works of the Triennials.

The featured artists in the exhibition in the La Motte museum include;

William Kentridge , Keith Dietrich, Karel Nel, Josua Nell, Penny Siopis, Peter Schütz, Andrew Verster, Michelle Nigrini and Helmut Starcke.

Facts on the Cape Town Triennials

  • The 1982 and 1985 (first and second) shows were considered the finest exhibitions of contemporary South African art.
  • The Rembrandt Gold Medal was awarded to the artist submitting the work considered by the judging panel to be the best entry on the show.
  • With the show in 1991, the gold medalist received a cash prize of R25,000 while three merit awards were the recipients of R10,000 each.
  • The four shows were shown at 33 exhibitions and attended by 452,000 people.
  • Many art lovers and art administrators still maintain, even today, that the Triennials were the most outstanding national art event to be held in the country.

 La Motte sincerely thanks the Rupert Museum for their collaboration with this exhibition.