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Introducing Works from Cape Town Triennials

We are very excited to announce the new contemporary exhibition in the La Motte Museum to be a selection of the very well-known and often-debated Cape Town Triennials, the most ambitious exhibition of contemporary South African art for its time, from 1982 to 1992.

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.

From the start, the Rembrandt van Rijn Art Foundation acquired the prize-winning works of the Triennials exhibitions. It is a selection of these works that will be on display in the La Motte Museum for the next year.

Many of the artists represented have since established themselves amongst the most eminent in South Africa and the exhibition at La Motte represents the acclaimed artists William Kentridge, Keith Dietrich, Karel Nel, Josua Nell, Penny Siopis, Peter Schütz, Andrew Verster, Michélle Nigrini, Richard Smith and Helmut Starcke.

Many art lovers and art administrators are of the opinion, even today, that the Triennials have been South Africa’s most outstanding national art exhibitions and La Motte is proud to be exhibiting such a treasured collection of works.

The Cape Town Triennials will be replacing the exhibition of tapestries and ceramics by French artist, Jean Lurçat. The La Motte Museum also hosts the permanent exhibition of JH Pierneef’ private collection.


More Information on the Cape Town Triennials.

The Rembrandt van Rijn Art Foundation had a special medal struck, the Rembrandt Gold Medal, for presentation to the artist submitting the work considered by the judging panel to be the best entry on the show. Monetary awards were also attached to this presentation. At the last Triennial in 1991 the gold medallist received a cash prize of R25 000, while three merit awards of R10 000 each were also presented, making this the premier art prize in the country at that time.

The first (1982) and second (1985) Cape Town Triennials were considered to be the finest exhibitions of contemporary South African art ever mounted in the Republic. Both toured the country for approximately one year, each visiting eight centres. Attendance at the first Triennial was 219069 which included an exhibition at the Rand Easter Show. 84000 Viewers visited the second Cape Town Triennial.

Since its inception in 1982, the Cape Town Triennial has provoked heated controversy and debate but has also produced enthusiasm and gratitude for the revelation, each time, of aspects of the remarkable flowering of talent in South African visual arts during the ’80s.

Two further Triennials were to follow, in 1988 and 1991. Both were awaited with that blend of excitement and anxiety that such exhibitions usually generate.

The four Cape Town Triennials were shown at 33 exhibitions and were attended by more than 452000 people.

Many art lovers and art administrators still maintain, even today, that the Triennials were the most outstanding national art events to be held in this country.


For more information, contact Ingrid Maritz at museum@la-motte.co.za or

+27 (0)21 876 8850.


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