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Marilyn Martin

Senior Scholar

+27 (0)21 650 7127




BA (Hons) UNISA; MArch, Wits University.

In May 2001, after eleven years as director of the South African National Gallery, Martin was appointed director of Art Collections for Iziko Museums. Prior to her career in the museum sector she was senior lecturer in the Department of Architecture, Wits University. Since her retirement from Iziko Museums in 2008 she has been working as an independent writer, curator and lecturer.

She was a member of the National Arts Council from 1997 to 2004 and a trustee of the Arts and Culture Trust until 2007. In 2010 she was appointed to the Council of Iziko Museums. Her biographical listings include Who’s Who of Southern Africa and The International Who’s Who of Women.

Martin has curated exhibitions of South African art in Brazil, Denmark, France, Mali and the USA, and has served on many panels for art and architecture, including the Dakar Biennale (2000, 2010). She was co-curator for the exhibition Picasso and Africa; she curated the retrospective exhibition on Louis Maqhubela for the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg in 2010 (it travelled to Cape Town and Durban) and 1970-1990: A Legacy for the Association of Visual Arts in Cape Town.

Martin is a Visiting Professor at Kingston University, London, in 2009 she was an acting leave replacement at the Michaelis School of Fine Art and in 2012 she was appointed on contract as lecturer in Visual and Art History. She is currently a senior scholar at the School. Martin has written numerous articles on art and culture in national and international publications.

In 2002 Martin was admitted to the Legion of Honour of the Republic of France at the rank of Officer and in 2013 she received the medal of the Fondation Alliance française in Paris.


Books and catalogues:

  • Kaufmann, K. & Martin, M. 2002. Art/Aids South Africa. Catalogue of the exhibition, curated by Marilyn Martin and Kyle Kauffman, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, and shown at Wellesley in 2002 and Iziko: South African National Gallery in 2003.
  • Madeline, L. & Martin, M. Eds. 2006. Picasso and Africa. Cape Town: Bell-Roberts.
  • Martin, M. & Dolby, J. Eds. 2008. Albert Adams: Journey on a Tightrope. Cape Town: Iziko Museums.
  • Martin, M. Ed. 2010. A Vigil of Departure – Louis Khehla Maqhubela a retrospective 1960-2010. Johannesburg: The Standard Bank of South Africa Limited.

Essays in books and catalogues:

  • Building a Public Sphere – Politics, Arts and Culture in the New South Africa. In D’Orville, H. Ed. 1996. Beyond freedom: letters to Olusegun Obasanjo. New York: Africa Leadership Foundation Inc.
  • Art in the Now South Africa Facing truth and transformation. In Geers, K. Ed. 1997. Contemporary South African Art: the Gencor Collection. Jeppestown: Jonathan Ball.
  • Louis Jansen van Vuuren “Cycles of Change and Growth”. 1998. Catalogue of the exhibition held at Galerie Akka in Paris.
  • Transforming the National Gallery. In Atkinson, B. & Breitz, C. Eds. 1999. Grey Areas Representation, Identity and Politics in Contemporary South African Art. Johannesburg: Chalkham Hill Press.
  • Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945-1994. In Enwezor, O. Ed. 2000. The Short Century – Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945-1994. Munich, London, New York: Prestel.
  • Les précurseurs d’Afrique du Sud? In Fall, N. & Pivin, J-L. Eds. 2001. Anthologie de l’art africain du XXe siècle. Paris: Éditions Revue Noire.
  • The Precursors of [modernism in] South Africa. In Fall, N. & Pivin, J-L. Eds. 2002. An Anthology of African Art: The Twentieth Century. New York: DAP & Paris: Editions Revue Noire.
  • Kunst, Kultur und Politik in Kapstadt. In Held, J. Ed. 2000. Metropolenkultur: Kunst und Kulturpolitik der 90er Jahre in den Zentren der Welt. Weimar: Verlag und Datenbank für Geisteswissenshaften.
  • Under the Cultural Microscope: Redefining the National Art Museum in a changing South Africa. In Coexistence: Contemporary Cultural Production in South Africa. 2003. Catalogue of the exhibition curated by Marilyn Martin, Pam Allara and Zola Mtshiza and shown at The Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts and the Iziko: South African National Gallery, 2003-04.
  • HIV/AIDS in South Africa: Can the Visual Arts Make a Difference? In Kaufmann, K. & Lindauer, D. Eds. 2004. AIDS and South Africa: The Social Expression of a Pandemic. London: Palgrave-Macmillan.
  • The horn of the national art museum’s dilemma. In Bedford, E. Ed. 2004. A Decade of Democracy South African Art 1994-2004 From the Permanent Collection of Iziko: South African National Gallery. Cape Town: Double Storey Books, 2004.
  • Der Topf voll Gold am Endes des Regenbogens; The Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow. In New Identities Zeitgenössische Kunst aus Südafrika. 2004. Germany: Museum Bochum and Hatje Cantz.
  • Contradictions and Confluences – grappling with the effects of globalisation on post-apartheid South Africa. In Below, I. & Von Bismarck, B. Eds. 2005. Globalisierung/Hierarchisierung Kulturelle Dominanzen in Kunst und Kunstgeschichte. Germany: Jonas Verlag.
  • Jane Alexander. In Harper, G. & Moyer, T. Eds. 2006. A Sculpture Reader: Contemporary Sculpture since 1980. Hamilton, USA: International Sculpture Centre.
  • Introduction to Harrison, R. 2006. The Black Christ: A journey to freedom. Cape Town: New Africa Books.
  • The Miscast Exhibition at the South African National Gallery. In Lohman, J & Goodnow, K. Eds. 2006. Human Remains & Museum Practice. London: Renouf Pub Col Ltd.
  • Introduction to Two Un/Related Stories. 2008. Catalogue of an exhibition by Zwelethu Mthethwa and Louis Jansen van Vuuren held at the Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg, November 2008.
  • Louis Jansen van Vuuren. 2009. Essay in the catalogue Louis Jansen van Vuuren fees feast held at Grande Provence, February 2009.
  • Introduction to Abstract South African Art from the Isolation Years: Volume 3. 2009. Stellenbosch: SMAC Art Gallery.
  • Jill Trappler – Notions of Being/Moments of Being. In Jill Trappler – Notions of Being/Moments of Being. 2009. Catalogue of the exhibition held at the Irma Stern Museum in December 2009.
  • En pénétrant au coeur des questions de société; Penetrating the heart questions of society. 2010. Essay in the catalogue, DAK’ART 2010, 9th Biennial of Contemporary African Art in Dakar, Senegal, May-June 2010.
  • The end of the Rainbow. Essay in the catalogue, “Ampersand” – A Dialogue between Contemporary Art from South Africa and the Daimler Art Collection. 2010. Berlin: Daimler Contemporary.
  • A generous and lasting legacy. Contribution to the catalogue, A donation from the PELMAMA Permanent Art Collection. 2010. Pretoria Art Museum and the City of Tshwane.
  • Hendrik Stroebel – Recollect. Essay in the catalogue Hendrik Stroebel Recollect. 2011. Durban: KZNSA Gallery, Durban.
  • Johann du Plessis – Au-delà. Short piece in the catalogue Silence – Portraits, 2013. Sasol Art Museum, University of Stellenbosch.

Recent articles in international and South African journals:

  • Réflexion sur l’histoire et le rôle du musée national d’art en Afrique du Sud [dossier] Réinventer les musées. 2007. Africultures. 70 (mai-juin-juillet): 59-74.
  • The collections and role of the Iziko South African National Gallery [dossier] Oggetti d’Arte nei musei e nelle collezioni nell’Africa contemporanea: le poste in gioco. 2007. Africa e Mediterraneo. 60-61(11): 60-64.
  • Curating HIV/AIDS at the Iziko South African National Gallery. 2007. Kiosk 01: 57-64.
  • At the threshold of seeing. 2008. Art South Africa. 07 (02): 68-77.
  • A platform for African artists – the 2010 Dakar Biennale. 2010. de arte. 82: 59-65.
  • A vigil of departure: Louis Khehla Maqhubela, a retrospective 1960-2010. 2010. Artworks in Progress The Yearbook of the Staff of the Michaelis School of Fine Art.10:104-109.
  • Durban in 2010. African Arts special issue South Africa After the Ball: Art and the World Cup 2010. 44 (2): 68-79.
  • A Vigil of Departure Louis Khehla Maqhubela – His Life and Work (1960-2010). 2011. Nka. 28: 20-33. Since 2008 Martin has contributed reviews to Art South Africa; she is a contributor to the arts pages of Die Burger.