The History of South African Pioneer Artists of Color at Ellerman House in Cape Town

An Africa Prime Exclusive Documentary (40 Minutes):

Ellerman House is a luxurious boutique hotel in Cape Town, South Africa. Paul Harris, the owner of Ellerman House, focused primarily on South African art and acquired the collection over several decades. The art collection at Ellerman House is vast with over 1000 pieces and gives a better overview of the history of South African art than any of the institutional art museums in South Africa. Talita Swarts, the owner of Art Route in Cape Town, presents the documentary.

The documentary presents a history of the Artists of Color in South Africa. The 5 pioneer artists being; George Pemba, Gerard Sekoto, Gerard Benghu, Ernest Mancoba and John Koenakeefe Mohl. These artists laid a foundation that influenced many great modernists and contemporary artists, such as internationally acclaimed William Kentridge, whose father was the anti-apartheid lawyer who defended Nelson Mandela at the Rivonia trial.

During the apartheid years people of color were not allowed to go to universities to study art. The government at the time created a recreation center for migrant laborers in Polly Street, Johannesburg. In an ironic twist, this center became an underground teaching school for artists of color. A cross pollination took place where artists on both sides of the race lines were influenced.

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