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Past Exhibitions

David Koloane: Chronicles of a Resilient Visionary
6 November 2019 - 22 February 2020
Exhibited in the Core and Mezzanine Gallery
Curated by Dr. Thembinkosi Goniwe

The exhibition celebrated Koloane's iconic legacy. An artist and social activist, his art provided insight into the daily experiences and struggles of Johannesburg’s black community. As a scholar and astute commentator on the South African art landscape, he challenged conceptions around black art, contributing to elevating it from its previous label of township art. Koloane was also a mentor for many of South Africa’s contemporary artists, and worked to create spaces, such as the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios and Thupelo workshops for young black artists to flourish.   

The exhibition was organised in collaboration with Goodman Gallery and includes works from the WAM collection and the artist's personal archive.

26 November 2019 - 1 February 2020
Exhibited in Gallery1 

The NEWWORK project is an annual showcase, produced by the graduating Wits BAFA class. It is the debut show for a new generation of young artists. NEWWORK19 featured 33 artists that work in a diverse range of media; performance, photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, multimedia installation and interactive events.

Participating artists: Kira de Carvalho, Teri Davids, Kirsty de Kock, Tracy Edser, Kay’leigh Fisher, Gillian Fleischmann, Makaela Jade Gaines, Theesen Govender, Liam Howroyd, Jessica Jindrich, Hemali Khoosal, Oratile Papi Konopi, Saajidah Madhi, Siyabonga Mahlaba, Shannen Ayla Marks, Lindelwa Masuku, Tammi Mbambo, Micayla Mohamadie, Queenzela Mokoena, Kundai Moyo, Shaylin Naicker, Bhakti Nathoo, Kate Northmore, Mohini Pillay, Omphemetse Patient Ramathlatse, Athini Rathebe, Chelsea Selvan, Kgalalelo Shoai, Lauren Spilhaus, Wesley Steyn, Sinead Thorpe, Courtney Townshend, Thulisani Zenda.


A beast slouches and so forth: Robert Hodgins at WAM
24 July - 9 November 2019
Exhibited in Gallery1
Curated by Julia Charlton

The exhibition title is a combination of the titles of two paintings by Robert Hodgins in Wits Art Museum’s collection. Highlighting Hodgins’ lesser-shown paintings in the collection, the exhibition included powerful works that wrestle with the paradox of a world in which extremes of beauty and horror co-exist.

Daylin Paul – A Broken Landscape
9 October - 27 October 2019
Exhibited in the Mezzanine Gallery

In Broken Land, photographer and journalist Daylin Paul investigated the impact of Mpumalanga’s coal power stations on the local communities. The exhibition went beyond documenting the environmental cost of extracting and burning coal to “personalising the experience of the local people who are on the front lines of this crisis.”

Joachim Schönfeldt - Panels of Place
27 August 2019 - 19 October 2019
Exhibited in the Core and Street Galleries 

Including nearly 50 works produced since 1994, this exhibition was the most comprehensive review of Schönfeldt’s ‘plein air’ paintings to date. Capturing many iconic Johannesburg sites, like Orlando Stadium and the Nelson Mandela Railway Bridge, as well as domestic settings, on carved wooden panels, the works reminded us of the complex layers of meaning that are inherent in place.


Leeto: A Sam Nhlengethwa Print Retrospective
11 June 2019 - 17 August 2019
Exhibited in the Core and Mezzanine Gallery
Curated by Boitumelo Tlhoaele


Leeto: A Sam Nhlengethwa Print Retrospective surveyed the print work of renowned artist Sam Nhlengethwa from 1978 to 2018. Leeto is a seTswana/seSotho word for ‘journey’ and, as the word suggests, the exhibition explores the ongoing artistic footsteps of Nhlengethwa. The underpinning theme of the exhibition was jazz. An early influence in Nhlengethwa’s works was the underground township jazz community; Nhlengethwa’s brother was a jazz musician and he began collecting jazz records at the age of 17. Leeto: A Sam Nhlengethwa Print Retrospective drew links between the fluid nature of jazz improvisation and Nhlengethwa’s study of an everchanging community. Not only is it a recurrent theme in his work and something that Nhlengethwa loves and is inspired by, but jazz begins to articulate the various possibilities for a deeper understanding and reading of his oeuvre.

Jack Ginsberg Centre for Book Arts' Samplings
26 March 2019 - 6 July 2019
Exhibited in the Jack Ginsberg Centre for Book Arts


A triangular book; a movable book; a round book; a glass book; a metre wide pop-up book; a 10 metre long folding book. These are a few of the collector’s favourite things, which were on display in two exhibitions at Wits Art Museum to celebrate the opening of the new Jack Ginsberg Centre for Book Arts. Artists’ books are artworks in the form of books, rather than books about art. Art collector and philanthropist Jack Ginsberg began collecting in this field in the early 1970s, almost from the inception of this contemporary art form. He has recently donated his world-renowned collection to Wits Art Museum. The collection is unrivalled in Africa and in the Southern Hemisphere and includes more than 3 000 artworks, plus a unique archive of an additional 3 000 items on the history and development of the book art genre.

Albert Adams: An Invincible Spirit
2 April 2019 - 25 May 2019
Exhibited in the Core and Street Galleries
Curated by Marilyn Martin


WAM celebrated the 90th anniversary of the birth of Johannesburg-born artist Albert Adams with Albert Adams: An Invincible Spirit. Adams was refused entry to UCT during Apartheid, but went on to study and teach Fine Art abroad. Although he left South Africa in 1960, he visited frequently. He consistently returned to the depiction of themes related to his country of birth. With a visceral expressionism, his works display a deep social commitment and searing commentary.


NEWWORK18 BAFA Graduate Exhibition
27 November 2018 - 9 December 2018
Exhibited in Gallery1
Coordinated by Reshma Chhiba and Rangoato Hlasane


As the culmination of a four-year process of learning, exchange and experimentation NEWWORK18 was an important indicator of emerging possibilities within the contemporary (South) African arts industries. The works presented spoke to the complexities of South African and global politics, intersectionality, difference and diversity, gender based violence, youth culture, engaging history and identity through trade, industry and folklore, the role of new media and online platforms in story-telling and the role of art to effect social change.

The NEWWORK project is an annual showcase that is produced by the graduating BAFA class. It is an opportunity for the group to debut themselves as the next generation of young artists. NEWWORK18 featured 32 artists who worked in a diverse range of media; performance, photography, drawing, painting, sculpture multimedia installation and interactive events. The exhibition was accompanied by a publication.

HotH: Highlights of the WAM Holdings - 2016-2018
14 November 2018 - 24 March 2019
Exhibited in the Mezzanine Gallery
Curated by Fiona Rankin-Smith


The permanent collections of historical and contemporary African artworks, are constantly evolving and growing. The exhibition highlighted some of the recent additions to the collection acquired from 2016 and 2018. 

The Art of Lithography: A Collaborative Expression of LL Editions
18 September 2018 - 16 March 2019
Exhibited in the Core and Street Galleries
Curated by Boitumelo Tlhoaele and Tšhegofatso Mabaso


The Art of Lithography: A Collaborative Expression of LL Editions paid homage to Master Printer Leshoka Joe Legate and celebrated a significant milestone for this Johannesburg-based fine art lithographic printmaking studio, which was founded in 2013. The exhibition explored the nature of the collaboration which is deeply rooted in printmaking studio practices. It highlighted the processes, expressions, experiences, potentials and tensions between the printmaker and artists. Works by 24 young and established artists who have worked with Legate since LL Editions opened were shown.


Writing Art's Histories: Exhibition Classroom
1 February - 1 April 2018
Exhibited in Gallery1
Facilitated by Stacey Vorster and Leigh Leyde

This was an exhibition of artworks that formed the basis of a postgraduate programme in History of Art. The course aims to introduce students to the many ways that art’s histories can be told. Students developed original research based on objects in WAM’s collection.


Umlindelo wamaKholwa - Sabelo Mlangeni
27 June 2018 - 28 October 2018
Exhibited in the Mezzanine Gallery
Curated by Kabelo Malatsie


Umlindelo wamaKholwa featured the work of multiple prize-winning and internationally exhibited Johannesburg-based photographer Sabelo Mlangeni. The mostly black and white photographs focused on two South African Zionist church communities and demonstrated an acute awareness of the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion, of separation and subjection, identification and objectification. The works probed the artist's own beliefs as much as they explored the spiritual commitments of his photographic subjects. The exhibition was made possible through support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council of Great Britain and Dr Joel Cabrita, at that time an academic at Cambridge University, England.

Digital Imaginaries: Premonition
25 July 2018 - 23 September 2018
Curated by Fiona Rankin-Smith and Tegan Bristow


Digital Imaginaries: Premonition was an exploration by artists who imagine and critique how globalised digital technology systems shape and shift African futures. The works on display explored questions surrounding data, knowledge and decolonisation in a globalised information society. This dynamic and thought-provoking exhibition was the second leg of a three city project, which took place in Dakar, Senegal and Karlsruhe, Germany.  Institutions in each city led separate, but linked programs. The WAM exhibition was tied to Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival, an annual festival of culture, creativity and technology.


NEWWORK17 Graduate Exhibition
28 November - 10 December 2017
Exhibited in Gallery 1
Coordinated by Reshma Chhiba and Rangoato Hlasane

This exhibition of work by young artists in fulfillment of a BA Fine Arts degree at Wits was located at the museum as well as other campus spaces. 20 artists that work in a diverse range of media, from performance, photography, drawing, painting, sculpture and multimedia installations were featured. The exhibition was accompanied by a digital catalogue and each artist designed a postcard that was available for sale.

Beyond the Readymade
13 June 2018 - 9 September 2018
Exhibited in the Core and Street Galleries
Curated by Dr Alison Kearney


Drawing from WAM’s permanent collection, this exhibition examined the use of the found object - fragments or complete items that have been altered or joined to other objects to create a diverse range of artworks. The project grew out of Dr Alison Kearney’s research for a PhD in Art History. Beyond the Readymade considered how meaning and value shift when everyday objects are uprooted from daily life and transplanted onto an artwork or into a gallery or museum space. The exhibition raised questions about the social context of the time, the viewer’s family, cultural and religious background, sex, race etc, and how the context of the object might impact the meaning and value of an object or artwork. The exhibition was accompanied by a publication and an educational resource published by the museum.


Masixole Feni: A Drain on Our Dignity
25 October 2017 - 28 February 2018
Exhibited in the Mezzanine Gallery
Curated by Masixole Feni

In 2015 Masixole Feni won the Ernest Cole Award for his project - A Drain on Our Dignity. Feni is a freelance photojournalist who documents social issues in and around Cape Town, primarily the lack of service delivery and life of the marginalised. He took on the unpleasant task of photographing the lack of sanitation, because he did not want a photographer from outside the community telling their stories. After all, “that too would be A Drain on Our Dignity and that’s what inspired this project”. Feni’s representation of inequality, structural violence and his own imaginative response through photography is in itself a reflection on human creativity despite the limits imposed by power. The exhibition was accompanied by a book.


Gideon Mendel: Drowning World
17 October 2017 - 25 February 2018
Exhibited in the Core and Street Galleries
Curated by Gideon Mendel and Fiona Rankin-Smith

This powerful exhibition by South African-born contemporary photographer, Gideon Mendel, included three discrete bodies of photographic work, Submerged Portraits, Floodlines, Watermarks and a video titled The Water Chapters. For over a decade, Mendel travelled to various countries in the aftermath of devastating floods, The photographs demonstrate the artist's travels to various parts of the world and capture the reality of floods across cultural and geographical boundaries and illustrate the pervasive impact of climate change. 

Ross Passmoor: Afterlife
18 April 2018 - 15 July 2018
Exhibited in Gallery1
Curated by Ross Passmoor

Afterlife was a fragment of the South African multidisciplinary artist's creative PhD. His work examines some of the ongoing moments of making that constitute an artistic practice. Building on Tunnel Vision, a solo exhibition held at the Point of Order Gallery in 2017, the artist continued to explore some of the ways in which he could work with discarded materials found near his home. A sense of history is thus generated through the material, as well as, a ‘rootedness’ to the spaces the artist himself frequents.


Alfred Thoba: A Step becomes a Statement
14 March 2018 - 3 June 2018
Exhibited in the Core, Street and Mezzanine Galleries
Curated by Julia Charlton 


This survey exhibition presented work by Alfred Thoba, a South African artist with a distinctive style and vision that has cemented his unique legacy. The show spanned four decades and represented an in-depth and overdue look at a painter, whose work chronicles major milestones in South Africa’s political history and his own personal journey. The show was accompanied by a catalogue published by the museum.


Warhol Unscreened: Artworks from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Collection
27 July - 8 October 2017
Exhibited in the Core, Street and Mezzanine Galleries
Curated by Lesley Cohen

This major exhibition of one of the 20th century's most iconic and influential artists included over 80 of the artist’s major screenprints including Flowers, Campbell’s Soup Cans, Muhammed Ali, Marilyn Monroe, Mickey Mouse and Superman. In addition, Warhol’s celebrated Rolling Stones Sticky Fingersrecord album, a selection of Interview magazine covers, and the renowned Birmingham Race Riot image were on exhibition. Over 5 000 people attended the exhibition opening and it holds the record as the WAM show that has attracted the most visitors. The exhibition was made possible by Bank of America Merrill Lynch with additional support from BASA, Black Africa and KayaFM. The exhibition was accompanied by an educational resource produced by the museum.

One colour at a time: Contemporary Screenprints
27 June - 12 November 2017
Exhibited in Gallery1 
Curated collaboratively by Alexandre Vosloo; Nathi Simelane and Shannin Antonopoulo from Artist Proof Studio, Minenkulu Ngoyi; Isaac Zavale and Rochelle van Eeden from Prints on Paper, Thabiso Kholobeng from the Division of Visual Arts, Wits School of Arts and Leigh Leyde; Gontse Mathabathe; Fiona Rankin-Smith; Lesley Cohen and Julia Charlton from Wits Art Museum.

Fine Art screenprinting is a flourishing medium in South Africa as is evident in the group of young and emerging artists whose work was showcased in this exhibition. The exhibition was collaboratively curated with three Johannesburg printing studios - Artists Proof Studio, Prints on Paper and Division of Visual Arts, Wits School of Arts (DIVA) - who each used their own criteria to select works.


Show No Pain: The collected films of Michael MacGarry 1999 - 2017
3 May - 18 June 2017
Exhibited in Gallery1
Curated by Michael MacGarry 

This solo exhibition by Johannesburg-based artist, Michael MacGarry presented a survey of the artist's film and video work, from early animations as a student in 1999 through to a purpose-made two-channel film installation titled Parang, which focused on the artist’s family history in the Far East.

The exhibition consisted of sixteen works; short film, animation and feature-length video installation as well as text-based works describing unrealised films. Several recurring themes in the artist’s filmic oeuvre were evident. Notably: the interrogation of Modern architecture; historical cinematic representations of Africa; man and landscape; notions of entropy and the concept of eternal recurrence.

Moses Tladi (1903 - 1959)
15 March - 16 July 2017
Exhibited in the Mezzanine Gallery
Curated by Julia Charlton

This seminal exhibition celebrated the life and work of one of South Africa's great, but largely unknown landscape painters. The works poignantly reflect the social, economic and political contexts in which he lived and worked. The exhibition was based on a version previously shown at Iziko South African National Gallery (SANG), but included additional works. The exhibition was accompanied by the book, The Artist in the Garden: The Quest for Moses Tladi, by Angela Read Lloyd and published by Print Matters.

Overtime: representations, values and imagined futures of 'classical African Art'
22 February - 23 April 2017
Exhibited in Gallery1
Curated by Tatenda Magaisa and Katleho Shoro

Overtime was a collaborative exhibition that included both past and present WAM student staff. The participants were encouraged to engage the museum’s ‘classical African Art’ collection from which they produced new multimedia works in order to question the value of the classical African items and the making of meaning.

The exhibition explored the various ways that African cultural material has been, is and can be represented, valued and imagined in the future. It considered the ideologies that have influenced archaic visions of the African cultural material, art and Africa itself. Thus, critical to the exhibition was the idea of the cultural material having relevance and meaning over time

Anathi Bukani, Kevyah Cardoso, Michael Cheesman, Rosa Elk, Luke Gibson, Leigh Leyde, Lebogang Mabusela, Gontse Mathabathe, Boitumelo Molalugi, Boitumelo Motau, Maxine Thomik and Matshelane Xhakaza, were featured. A catalogue accompanied the exhibition.

Lifescapes: Six Object Biographies
1 February - 9 July 2017
Exhibited in the Core and Street Galleries
Curated by Joni Brenner, Stacey Vorster and Dr Justine Wintjes

This exhibition was a culmination of an innovative post-graduate course entitled ‘Writing Art’s Histories’, run by the Wits History of Art Department. The course required each student to write the ‘biography’ of a single object from WAM’s collection. The exhibition presented six objects researched by students in 2015 in dialogue with other objects and images, evoking aspects of the objects' wider lives that students had uncovered. The biographies are published in detail in an accompanying book of the same name. Lifescapesis is the third in a series of linked books and exhibitions based on postgraduate object biography research. This is the first time that WAM hosted the project.

NEWWORK16 Gradshow
1 December – 8 December 2016
Coordinated by Reshma Chhiba

Inspired and informed by the radical political and social events during #FeesMustFall protests, the 2016 graduation exhibition of the Wits School of Fine Arts sought to address key issues of the curriculum: Who is it aimed at and who designs it? It highlighted works by young artists that spoke to the thoughts and experiences of the youth of South Africa. WAM was used as a space to display a documentary video of each artist contextualizing their work while students displayed their works at other spaces in the city.


Off the Wall: An 80th Birthday Celebration with Linda Givon
11 August 2016 - 20 November 2016
Exhibited in the Core and Street Galleries
Curated by Linda Givon in collaboration with James Webb and Josh Ginsburg

Linda Givon, legendary commercial art gallerist and South African arts supporter, celebrated her 80th birthday in August 2016. To celebrate this auspicious occasion, Wits Art Museum hosted an exhibition of works from Givon’s private art collection. This project provided unprecedented access to important works and the stories that link them, as well as fascinating insights into the private person behind the public face of Linda Givon. Works on display included the very first William Kentridge that Givon purchased from gallery owner Reinhold Cassirer, powerful works by Dumile Feni, Sydney Kumalo, Willie Bester and Ezrom Legae. Givon nurtured the careers of countless important South African artists and in so doing developed her enviable collection. The exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue. Unfortunately, the museum was closed for a significant part of the run of this exhibition due to #FeesMustFall.


Walter Battiss: "I invented myself" The Jack Ginsberg Collection
6 July - 11 December 2016
Exhibited in Core, Street, Strip and Mezzanine Galleries
Curated by Warren Siebrits

For more than 35 years, well-known art collector and philanthropist Jack Ginsberg has assembled an extraordinary collection of more than 700 artworks, books and ephemera by esteemed South African artist Walter Battiss. The collection was shown at Wits Art Museum for the first time. While previous Battiss exhibitions were conceived thematically, this exhibition was organised chronologically.  The exhibition was accompanied by a 340-page illustrated book with five different covers and an educational resource. Battiss merchandise, from the Walter Battiss Company, such as scarves, T-shirts, crockery, wrapping paper and postcards were also on sale. At the end of the exhibition, the collection was donated to WAM as part of the permanent holdings and forms the nucleus of a major Walter Battiss Archive. The collection is available to scholars for research.

From the Heart: Personal Perspectives on the WAM Collection
8 June – 17 July 2016
Exhibited in Gallery1
Curated by Dr Same Mdluli and Tatenda Magaisa 

From the Heart, was an exhibition based on each WAM staff member’s (not only curators’) first encounter with African art.  It encouraged a nuanced engagement with the artworks that WAM staff work with and care for by offering a distinct and visceral engagement with artworks, artefacts and objects that are part of their 'cultural heritage'. A publication was produced.


Into the Light - An exhibition by Marcus Neustetter
27 April 2016 - 19 June 2016
Exhibited in the Core and Street Galleries
Curated by the artist

Marcus Neustetter explores archaeological and cosmological mysteries in his quest for meaning. His artistic investigations focus on the spaces in-between, within and between these disciplines.  The artist uses light as a medium for storytelling in his artistic practice. By inviting audiences from various communities across South Africa to engage with a variety of light-sources, he enables a playful interaction that ultimately culminates in a series of light and long-time exposure photographs and video work. These serve not as art objects in and of themselves, but rather as traces of local encounters in time and space. 

Black Modernisms in South Africa (1940 – 1990)
6 April 2016 – 19 June 2016
Exhibited in the Mezzanine Gallery
Curated by Prof. Emeritus Anitra Nettleton in collaboration with Dr Same Mdluli and Bongani Mahlangu

Black African Modernisms (1940-1990) coincided with a meeting of the international research project, Multiple Modernisms with participant art scholars from around the world.  The artworks on show, by over 20 artists, were drawn from Wits Art Museum’s permanent collections, explored some ‘Modernist’ approaches that interested black South African artists from the 1940s to 1990. A z-fold pamphlet was produced.


When Tomorrow Comes
16 March – 29 May 2016
Exhibited in Gallery1
Curated by Jacki McInnes, Professor Jyoti Mistry (Wits Department of Film and Television) and Professor Michael Titlestad (Wits Department of English)

Globally and nationally, publics are repeatedly confronted with narratives that suggest that environmental, social and economic catastrophe is inevitable. This exhibition asked pre-eminent South African, African and European artists to participate in working through apocalypticism to confront the inevitability of this conclusion, and to think beyond it to forms of survival, regeneration and rebirth. The result was both powerful and thought-provoking, with some controversial moments. The exhibition was accompanied by a broadsheet publication and education resource produced by the curators.

The Sound of Silence - Alfredo Jaar
24 February – 10 April 2016
Exhibited in the Core Gallery
Curated by Lara Kosseff

The Sound of Silence is a major installation work by New York based artist, architect and filmmaker Alfredo Jaar. It takes as its point of departure, South African photographer Kevin Carter’s Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of a starving child being stalked by a vulture in Sudan (2006). The installation, in an aluminium structure, with rows of bright fluorescent lights at the back, contained an 8-minute film with a silent narrative of the sombre story. It highlighted a complex set of ethical and personal questions about the act of looking and the responsibilities that follow. The exhibition was generously supported by the Goodman Gallery. 

Satellite Cities – Svea Josephy
20 January – 6 March 2016
Exhibited in Gallery1
Curated by the artist

Svea Josephy presented large colour photographs that explored connections between places with the same names. The works, displayed as diptychs, investigated the South African urban landscape through communities’ adoption of names of other places connected to conflict and war. The photographs place the suburbs and areas surrounding South Africa’s cities at the heart of a network of interconnected perspectives and relationships. The exhibition was organised in conjunction with the Wits City Institute with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and was accompanied by a small publication.

24 November – 6 December 2015
Exhibited in Gallery1
Facilitated by Reshma Chiiba 

NEWWORK15 is an annual exhibition of work by young artists in fulfilment of a BA Fine Art degree at Wits School of Arts. The exhibition, in 2015, was located at Wits Art Museum, The Point of Order project space, and surrounding studio spaces in the Wits School of Arts and Arthouse.  Basing their work on responses to the urgent issues raised by the national student movement in the last months of 2015, students also participated in assessment of their final bodies of work, thus developing a collective curatorial framework.

5 November 2015 - 6 February 2016
Exhibited in the Core and Street Galleries
Curated by Dr. Laura De Becker and Leigh Leyde

This exhibition explored the richness of WAM's collection and highlighted the various ways the unique university collection of African art has inspired creativity amongst students, artists and researchers across a wide range of disciplines. Collaborative work with the Wits Music School,  Wits Digital Art Department, Wits Fine Art Department, the University of Johannesburg Graphic Design Department and South African artists all formed part of this rich and exciting exhibition.

The exhibition, accompanied by a book of the same name, was part of a major multi-year project at WAM, which was funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

A City Refracted - Graeme Williams
14 October 2015 - January 2016 
Exhibited in the Mezzanine Gallery
Curated by Graeme Williams

Graeme Williams was the third winner of the Ernest Cole Award, initiated by the University of Cape Town and named after documentary photographer Ernest Cole. Williams’ images explore the complex history of displacement and migration in Johannesburg. The works on exhibition reflected the shifting typologies of the inner city of Johannesburg through the use of an informal style, which suggests waves of movement and migration. The exhibition was accompanied by a book published by Jacana.

Catherine Gfeller - Passing the City Through You
24 September 2015 - 9 November 2015
Exhibited in the Core and Street Galleries 
Curated by Catherine Gfeller and Fiona Rankin-Smith

In September 2013, Gfeller undertook a research residency in Johannesburg, at the Wits School of Arts. Passing the City Through You exhibited the videos, photographs, audios and texts created during her stay. Gfeller’s photographic and video work is based on incessantly pulsating urban landscapes. She aims to transform the anonymity of the city through the intersection of urban landscapes and human presences. The exhibition images highlighted the inner city of Johannesburg, as a succession of friezes composed by collage, montage, and superimposition. Support from the Embassy of Switzerland and Pro Helvetia (Swiss Arts Council) enabled this project.

Fak'Ugesi Lab: Exploring Cultural Technologies for Future Joburg
12 September - 25 October 2015
Exhibited in Gallery1
Curated by Tegan Bristow and Irini Papadimitriou

Wits Art Museum  in collaboration with Wits Division of Digital Arts, held an artist residency as part of the 2015 annual Fak’ugesi Digital Innovation Festival.  The WAM Gallery1 was transformed into a ‘Fak’ugesi Lab’. Visitors were encouraged to engage with the four resident artists as part of their digital art-making process. Visitors also participated in workshops during the three week residency. The creative outcomes of the residency were unveiled at a special event open to the public.

The exhibition was supported by the SA-UK Seasons 2014 & 2015, a partnership between the Department of Arts and Culture and the British Council.

Beadwork, Art and the Body: Dilo Tše Dintši/ Abundance
28 July - 11 October 2015
Exhibited in the Street, Core and Mezzanine galleries
Curated by Professor Anitra Nettleton with Dr Christopher Richards

The exhibition showcased a selection of the dazzling array of South African beadwork that is part of Wits Art Museum’s permanent collection, alongside contemporary works that were loaned for the exhibition. Innovative display techniques evoked the bodies that the beadwork was designed and made for. A book of the same title was published by the museum to accompany the exhibition. The National Arts Council sponsored the creation of dazzling beaded chandeliers that were installed in the WAM Café and highlighted the contemporary relevance of beadwork in South Afric

Peter Schutz: An Eye on the World
10 June - 16 August 2015
Exhibited in Gallery1
Curated by Fiona Rankin-Smith, Walter Oltman and Jill Waterman

Peter Schütz: An Eye on the World focused on the extraordinary carved work of late sculptor and long-time Wits Fine Art lecturer Peter Schütz. Using his most favoured medium of jelutong wood, Schütz created exceptionally fine carvings which explore themes of violence, myth, religion and spirituality. Madonnas, saints and religious artefacts depicting the female figure are iconic symbols that influenced his work. A book published by WAM accompanied the exhibition. A book published by WAM accompanied the exhibition.

Supported by the Standard Bank of South Africa, Hans Merensky Foundation, Charles and Lilian Lloys Ellis, Business and Arts South Africa, Peter and Heidi Kurth, Sasha Fabris, Jill Waterman, Neil Dundas and Goodman Gallery.

Fundraising Auction Exhibition
13 May - 27 May 2015
Exhibited in Gallery1 
Curated by WAM Staff

This exhibition featured artworks donated by artists and collectors to be sold to raise funds for Wits Art Museum Endowment. In addition to the donors of the artworks, the event was made possible by sponsors Bidvest, Hollard, Business and Arts South Africa, Spier Wine Farm, Strauss & Co. Fine Art Auctioneers and Consultants, YSWARA LUXE, Ooh Lala Confectionary and Rosebank College. The accompanying catalogue was published by Wits Art Museum. 

Time and Again - A Penny Siopis Retrospective
22 April - 20 July 2015
Exhibited in the Core, Street and Mezzanine Galleries
Curated by Penny Siopis with Fiona Rankin-Smith

Time and Again showcased a survey of the work of globally recognised South African artist, Penny Siopis. This exhibition reflected over three decades of Siopis’ creative production, and drew on the recurring themes of history, sexuality, race, memory, estrangement and violence. Many of the works were featured on her recent retrospective exhibition of the same title held at the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town in the same year.  A book published by Wits University Press was available.

Ngezinyayo - Migrant Journeys
10 April - 20 July 2015
Exhibited in the Core, Street, Strip and Mezzanine Galleries
Curated by Fiona Rankin-Smith

This exhibition coincided with the celebration of 20 years of democracy in South Africa. However, the issues surrounding migrants and migrancy addressed in this exhibition are part of a nearly 200 year history that continues to profoundly affect our society today.

This exhibition brought together the heritage of many southern African language groups, through the inclusion of film, photography, contemporary artworks, artefacts from ethnographic collections, archival documents and interviews.

A book entitled A Long Way Home: Migrant Worker Worlds 1800 - 2014 was published to accompany the exhibition and includes essays by leading local and international academics. An educational resource was also produced.

Unsettled: One Hundred Years War of Resistance by Xhosa Against Boer and British
10 March 2015 - 12 April 2015
Exhibited in the Mezzanine Gallery
Curated by Cedric Nunn

Cedric Nunn, the South African photographer acclaimed for his photographs taken during apartheid, aims to instigate social change and highlight lesser seen aspects of society with his photography. Unsettled dealt with the nine wars that Xhosa people were subjected to between 1779 and 1879 in their fight against Afrikaner and British colonial settler forces. Nunn, aware that these acts of colonial aggression and Xhosa resistance are neglected, documented the land where these struggles took place as a form of memorialisation.

The exhibition project launched in Grahamstown in 2014 and was made possible through the support of a Mellon Foundation Scholarship and Galerie Seippel.

Stars of the North: Revisiting Sculpture from Limpopo
3 March - 12 April 2015
Exhibited in the Core Gallery
Curated by Fiona Rankin-Smith, Julia Charlton, Leigh Leyde, Professor Anitra Nettleton 

Drawing on WAM’s holdings and prompted by a generous donation by Trent Read, this exhibition re-looked at the histories and work of a group of sculptors  living in rural areas in the 1980s. All learned their skills in the context of indigenous wood and clay sculptural traditions and were then drawn into the contemporary commercial gallery system.  The exhibition explored the artists’ experiences of and responses to contemporary worlds and offered insights into some of the political and artistic debates of the time.

A small catalogue produced by the museum accompanied the exhibition. 

26 November - 14 December 2015
Exhibited in Gallery1
Coordinated by Zen Marie and Thato Magotsi

NEWWORK14 featured a selection of dynamic and innovative works by the graduating artists of the Division of Visual Arts (DIVA) at the Wits School of Arts (WSOA). An annual showcase it marks the public debut of a new generation of young artists. With 33 exhibiting artists, NEWWORK14 spanned a diverse range of media, from performance, photography, drawing, painting and sculpture to multimedia installation and interactive events.

NEWWORK14 was curated collaboratively by the graduates. A publication was produced.

William Kentridge: Tapestries - A collaboration with Stephens Tapestry Studio
19 November 2014 - 22 February 2015 
Exhibited in the Core, Street and Mezzanine Galleries
Curated by Fiona Rankin-Smith

In late 2014 William Kentridge’s work was presented in three major art venues in Johannesburg. Johannesburg Art Gallery hosted The Refusal of Time, The Goodman Gallery exhibited a series of landscape drawings and Wits Art Museum showcased tapestries, and associated works, created in conjunction with Marguerite Stephens’s weaving studio. The artist described showing the exhibition of tapestries at WAM with its remarkable collection of African art as continuing an ongoing project of showing the indeterminate and at times non-existent boundaries between artisan, artist, craft and art. 



DOING HAIR: Art and Hair in Africa
19 August - 2 November 2014
Exhibited in the Gallery1 and Mezzanine Galleries
Curated by Professor Anitra Nettleton, Lesley Cohen, Laura de Becker

The political, social, cultural and economic implications of hair and hairdressing as expressed through artworks, explored in the exhibition. Extraordinary objects used to protect, style and adorn hair, historical and contemporary artworks, barbershop posters, films and installations from Wits Art Museum and other public and private collections were included. Hairdressers who work in neighbouring Braamfontein participated through a project that culminated in selected hairstyles being professionally photographed and included in the exhibition

This exhibition was sponsored by Black Like Me, and a catalogue and an educational resource was produced.

Ijusi 1994 -2014 Towards a New African Visual Language
12 August -14 September 2014
Curated by Garth Walker

This exhibition highlighted the contribution of the experimental South African design magazine Ijusi that was first published following the advent of democracy in 1994. The magazine posed the important question “What makes me South African and what does that ‘look’ like?” The publication made invaluable contributions to the ongoing discourse about representation and identity in South Africa.

Jodi Bieber - Between Darkness and Light
17 April - 21 July 2014
Exhibited in Gallery1
Curated by Jodi Bieber

This mid-career retrospective included photographs from some of Bieber’s most significant bodies of work including Las Canas, Real Beauty, Soweto, Between Dogs (&) Wolves and Going Home – Illegality and Repatriation – South Africa/ Mozambique. Real Beauty focused on the female body while Soweto is a celebration and portrait of contemporary life in the renowned Johannesburg township.

Queer and Trans Art-iculations: Collaborative Art for Social Change
15 December 2013 - 30 March 2014
Exhibited in the Street, Core and Gallery1 galleries
Curated by Gabrielle Le Roux, Zanele Muholi, Lerato Bereng, Haley McEwen and Leigh Leyde

Wits Art Museum, in partnership with Wits Centre for Diversity Studies and Inkanyiso hosted an exhibition that featured the work of two visual activists:  Zanele Muholi [Mo(u)rning] and Gabrielle Le Roux [Proudly African & Transgenderand Proudly Trans in Turkey]. The exhibition coincided with the official launch of the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies.

Homosexual and gender non-conforming people are discriminated against, victimised, penalised and criminalised. As insiders and concerned citizens within the LGBTI community who make art, Muholi and Le Roux employ art-activism as a resistance tool and a way to reveal how the LGBTI community exists within society. The works of both artists addressed the complexities, challenges, freedoms and dangers of living beyond the gender binary.

For the duration of the exhibition, facilitators who could speak to the issues represented in the work from lived experience were in attendance. They assisted with queries and provided free impromptu guided tours of the works. WAM  also created an interactive space for visitors to respond to the exhibition and share their experiences and thoughts.

15 December 2013 - 30 March 2014
Exhibited in the Mezzanine Gallery
Curated by Dr. Laura de Becker

The second year of the Wits History of Art course included course work on landscape representations maps being one kind of representation that is most concerned with space, place, movement and temporality. Mapping/Marking included maps that are artworks, artworks that are made from maps and maps that categorise art. The images reflected on how mapping and marking the landscape are produced in the process of documenting one’s environment.

13 November 2013 - 12 January 2014
Curated by Dr Laura de Becker

C.Now showcased artworks acquired by the Wits Art Museum in 2013. WAM's collection that numbered close to 10 000 African artworks at the time, continues to grow each year. New acquisitions included classical African art pieces purchased for the Standard Bank African Art Collection and classical and contemporary artworks that were donated during the year by the museum’s generous supporters.

Ilan Godfrey - Legacy of Mine
13 November - 15 December 2013
Exhibited in the Mezzanine Gallery
Curated by Ilan Godfrey and Fiona Rankin-Smith

llan Godfrey was the 2012 winner of the Ernest Cole Photographic Award that was established to stimulate creative work in photography in southern Africa. The work explored the consequences of mining on South Africa’s land and people – the need for economic growth versus protection of the environment. Once a symbol of wealth and formidable force in the development of SA, the mine today reveals the scars of neglect and decay, which pose a threat to our society.

The exhibition was accompanied by a major publication, produced by Jacana, and launched at the exhibition opening.

12 November - 24 November 2013
Exhibited in Gallery1 

NEWWORK13 was an exhibition of work by the graduating class from the Division of Visual Arts (DIVA) at The Wits School of Arts (WSOA) and represented the public debut of a new generation of young artists. This group show was a diverse mix of contemporary and current responses to questions that are informed by a location in Johannesburg, South Africa and the world.

The exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue produced by WSOA.

HART Portfolio
26 October 2013 - January 2014
Exhibited in the Strip Gallery
Curated by Rory Bester and Joni Brenner

This exhibtion was display of a portfolio of prints created for sale to establish a History of Art student scholarship fund, featuring artists Joni Brenner, David Koloane, Dorothee Kreutzfeldt, Serge Alain Nitegeka, Walter Oltmann and produced by Talya Lubinsky and Niall Bingham. A set of prints were donated to WAM.

Jeremy Wafer: Survey
10 September - 3 November 2013
Exhibited in Gallery1
Curated by Jeremy Wafer

The exhibition formed part of Wafer’s submission for a PhD at Wits in which in which he reflected on a 30-year art making career and which traced, revisited and rearticulated themes and ways of working which have characterized his work. Wafer explores possibilities of materials as both metaphor and structure in works that allude to themes of visibility and invisibility: to the present and the absent, to the inside and the outside. Wafer’s work occupies something of a unique place in South African art, drawing as it does on diverse precedents as minimalism, arte povera and land art but always with a sensitivity to resonances of the local and particular. Accompanied by a publication produced by the artist.

Umhlaba 1913 - 2013: Commemorating the 1913 Land Act
29 August - 10 November 2013
Exhibited in the Core, Street and Mezzanine galleries
Curated by David Goldblatt, Bongi Dhlomo-Mautloa, Pam Warne and Paul Weinberg

The centenary of the Land Act provided an unparalleled opportunity to experience the stories of land in South Africa in ways that had not been told before. The exhibition offered insights into the complexity and contested nature of our landscape. Traversing past and the present, works by more than 30 photographers, from  collections of 12 archives, sketched the history of land dispossession and its legacies. A publication accompanied the exhibition.

Again, and then again, as well, too: Annual Martienssen Prize
24 July - 25 August 2013
Curated by Gabi Ngcobo and Donna Kukama

The annual Wits School of Arts (WSOA) Martienssen Prize Exhibition showcases finalists selected from projects submitted by senior Wits Fine Arts students. 2013’s theme invited students to reconsider their discarded, ignored and the forgotten creative endeavours from earlier in the year or previous years of study. This was not an invitation to submit older work but rather to conceptualise new possibilities, approaches and solutions.

Meaning Motion: Tegan Bristow and Nathaniel Stern
12 June – 18 August 2013
Exhibited in the Core and Mezzanine galleries
Curated by Tegan Bristow and Nathaniel Stern with Fiona Rankin-Smith

How does movement perform meaning? The artworks on this exhibition incorporated cutting edge interfaces, like  Microsoft Kinect with custom-made software, so that full-body interactions from public participants made spoken word and sounds, projected animations, texts and drawings transform with their movements. Viewers could explore, experience, and practice making meaning. African artworks, from WAM’s collection, that rely on the active participation of the ‘viewer’ to generate their final forms were displayed alongside the interactive digital works. 

Susan Woolf - Taxi Handsigns: Symbolic Landscapes of Public Culture
12 June – 14 July 2013
Exhibited in Gallery1
Curated by Susan Woolf

The exhibition formed part of Woolf’s submission for a PhD at Wits. The body of work involved the documentation and exploration of the system of informal hand signals that commuters use to access the mini-bus taxi transport in Gauteng. Conceptual artwork, paintings, books, stamps and short films, incorporated taxi hand signs as a symbol of the city of which they are such an integral part.

The exhibition was accompanied by a small publication created by the artist.

15 May – 15 November 2013
Exhibited in the Strip Gallery
Curated by Dr Justine Wintjes and Dr Laura de Becker

This exhibition developed for third year students in art history and fine arts, questioned the differences between artworks and artefacts. It included contemporary and historical works from the African art holdings at WAM.

Song for Sekoto 1913 - 2013
25 April – 2 June 2013
Exhibited in the Street, Core and Mezzanine galleries 
Organised by the Gerard Sekoto Foundation and curated by Mary-Jane Darroll

This exhibition was organised in celebration of the centenary of the artist’s birth. Although Sekoto spent most of his life in exile, he is considered by some to be a ‘Father of South African Art'. This exhibition focused on the relationship between Sekoto’s texts and his paintings and sketches from public and private collections. 

The exhibition was sponsored by Merrill Lynch, a subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation, with support from BHP Billiton, Business and Arts South Africa, Webber Wentzel and the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund. It was accompanied by a publication, an education resource and CD of Sekoto's music and Billy and Shorty, Sekoto's book for children. 

Izilwane/Diphologolo: Animals and Art in Africa
13 March – 12 May 2013
Exhibited in Gallery1
Curated by Professor Anitra Nettleton

This exhibition was drawn from the Wits Art Museum collections and loosely organised around different categories of animals that inhabit the village, countryside, farmlands, bush/ forest, water and air and ones that inhabit multiple contexts. There was an additional category – animals of the imagination - that combines physical elements of various animals (including humans). Both historical and contemporary works were included. 

A Lasting Impression: The Robert Hodgins Print Archive
28 February – 7 April 2013
Exhibited in the Street, Core and Mezzanine galleries
Curated by Julia Charlton

The Robert Hodgins Print Archive was established in 2007 when renowned South African artist Robert Hodgins donated 400 prints from his personal collection to Wits Art Museum. This exhibition presented a selection of items from this archive, with works in many different media dating from 1971 to 2009 all displaying the artist’s critical and historically informed engagement with the human figure.

The exhibition was accompanied by a major publication produced by Wits Art Museum.

Landscape, Figure, Portrait
30 January - 13 March 2013
Curated by Dr Justine Wintjes and Professor Anitra Nettleton

A range of objects from the WAM collection was selected and displayed for use in the teaching of the second year Wits Hstory of Art course. The themes centred on notions of landscape, figure and portrait. 

The Art of Life and Death (and everything in between)
November 2012 – February 2013
Curated by Professor Anitra Nettleton

Human societies tend to view life and death as an endlessly repeating cycle. Childhood follows birth. Initiation leads to adulthood, senior status and ultimately death. In all cultures, albeit in different ways, these cycles are marked by the making of particular objects, dress and sculptures and by the performance of dances, music and stories. This exhibition presented diverse examples, from WAM’s historical and contemporary collections, selected for their aesthetic appeal.

13 November - 25 November 2012

The annual presentation of the work of the graduating 4th year Wits Fine Arts students was held for the first time at the new Wits Art Museum.

WAM New Acquisitions
3 October 2012 – 16 February 2013 

This exhibition evolved out of a display of linocuts installed as part of the Wits School of Arts printmaking teaching programme and included a range of artworks that had been acquired for the WAM collections through purchase and acquisition.

Wits 90 Treasures
21 September – 14 October 2012
Curated by Professor Anitra Nettleton and Rochelle Keene

An exhibition drawn from some of Wits’ extraordinary collections of objects and books was part of the university’s 90th birthday celebrations. Former South African president Nelson Mandela's handwritten notes from the Rivonia Trial, Australopithecus Sediba fossils, 5 000 year old clay tablets from Ur in Mesopotamia, Nuremburg Chronicles dating to 1 493 and an iron lung and were some of the diverse and important items included as well as artworks from WAM holdings. 

Santu Mofokeng - Chasing Shadows: Thirty Years of Photographic Essays
12 September –14 October 2012
Exhibited in Gallery1
Curated by Corinne Diserens 

This major retrospective exhibition of photographic essays by world renowned South African Santu Mofokeng included photographic essays from the previous thirty years. It was organised by Berlin-based curator Corinne Diserens, in association with the Jeu de Paume in Paris. The exhibition was accompanied by a major publication. 

Dale Yudelman - Ernest Cole Award
5 September - 25 September 2012
Exhibited in the Mezzanine Gallery
Curated by Dale Yudelman

Cape Town-based documentary photographer Dale Yudelman was the winner of the prestigious inaugural Ernest Cole Photographic Award. He exhibited a body of work shot on his cell-phone that he described as ‘vibrant daily reflections, shot in passing, with the simple motivation of noticing what is’. 

Annual Martienssen Prize
24 August –2 September 2012
Organised by Gabi Ngcobo

The Annual Martienssen Prize exhibition is selected from projects submitted by senior Wits School of Arts (WSOA) Fine Arts students and adjudicated by a panel of judges chosen by both students and staff. The prize, named in honour of Heather Martienssen, the first Professor of Fine Arts at Wits, is awarded to acknowledge artistic excellence in a work produced by a senior student. 

Too Much Information - WAM Fundraising Auction exhibition
23 May 2012 – 30 May 2012
Exhibited in Gallery1
Curated by Gabi Ncobo and Donna Kukama

WAM celebrated its first year in the new museum with the launch of an endowment campaign and an auction of contemporary South African art. The week-long display of the works donated for auction culminated in a gala event that raised R5.5 million for the WAM Endowment. Accompanied by an auction catalogue with short texts by CCAA members Professor Nettleton, Dr Paul Davis and Pamela Sunstrum, Lesley Cohen and Dr Laura de Becker from WAM. 

WAM! Seeing Stars
9 May – 20 August 2012
Exhibited in the Core, Street, Mezzanine, Gallery 1 and Strip galleries
Curated by Julia Charlton, Fiona Rankin-Smith and Professor Anitra Nettleton 

The inaugural exhibition in the new Wits Art Museum celebrated and highlighted the stars of the WAM collections and some of the many people who have contributed to its development over the last 8 decades. This is the only occasion on which all spaces in the museum were dedicated to a single exhibition.