5 books For Art Lovers

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The festive season is in full swing, nothing beats a good art book in your hands. For those of us spending the holidays at home this year, why not utilise the days flipping through pages of your favourite artists and photographers? Photobooks are a good way to transport the mind, reimagining the beauty of the world.

Here are five books to keep you warm and cozy this season.


Author: Andrew Tshabangu 

Pages from Footprints – Image courtesy of Africa in the Photobook

Footprints is a book on the work of Andrew Tshabangu, an acclaimed South African photographer. His monochrome images, comprising work selected from a photography career spanning 20-plus years. Each series in this book suggests a deep contemplation of the places, rituals and material conditions that have structured black life in South Africa. The work suggests an understanding of how people have made virtues of necessity, transformed the marginal spaces bequeathed to them by apartheid and mobilised the terms of their own political and spiritual freedom.

Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail the Dark Lioness

Author: Zanele Muholi

Pages from Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail the Dark Lioness – Image courtesy of Charcoal Bookclub

Zanele Muholi’s book includes one hundred self-portraits. Muholi drafts material props from her immediate environment to reflect her journey, explore her own image and possibilities as a black woman in today’s global society Furthermore, speaks emphatically in response to contemporary and historical racism. As she states , “I am producing this photographic document to encourage people to be brave enough to occupy spaces, brave enough to create without fear of being vilified… to teach people about our history, to re-think what history is all about, to re-claim it for ourselves, to encourage people to use artistic tools such as cameras as weapons to fight back.” 

African Artists: From 1882 to Now

Author: Chika Okeke-Agulu, professor of African American studies, art, and archaeology, Phaidon editors , Joseph L. Underwood

Pages from African Artists: From 1882 to Now – Image courtesy of Phaidon

African Artists: From 1882 to Now (Phaidon) represents the most substantial appraisal of contemporary African art currently available. This book features the work of over 300 artists born or based in Africa with commentary on their contributions to the art forms. Some works are by El Anatsui, Marlene Dumas, David Goldblatt, Lubaina Himid, William Kentridge, Julie Mehretu, Wangechi Mutu, and Robin Rhode, as well as lesser-known names from across Africa, with stunning and surprising examples of their art paired with insightful texts that show their contribution to the painting, sculpture, installation, photography, moving image, and performance art.

On The Mines

Author: David Goldblatt

Pages from, On the Mines – Image courtesy of Africa in the photobook

David Goldblatt (1930-2018) is a South African photographer who captured the people, landscapes, and structures of South Africa. On the Mines is a redesigned and expanded version of David Goldblatt’s influential 1973 publication. Goldblatt grew up in the South African town of Randfontein. This town was shaped by the social culture and financial success of the gold mines surrounding it. When these mines failed in the mid-1960s, Goldblatt began taking photos of them, which form the basis of On the Mines. The book features an essay on the human and political dimensions of mining in South Africa by Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer. 31 new mostly unpublished photos including color images, 11 deleted images, a PostScript by Gordimer to her essay and a text by Goldblatt reflecting on his childhood and the 1973 edition.

South African Art Now 

Author: Sue Williamson

Front Page of South Africa Art Now – Image courtesy of Goodreads

South African Art Now documents, through in-depth essays and stunning full-color photographs, the remarkable work of nearly one hundred South African artists working in every medium. This book covers forty years of art history, from the dark years of apartheid, which saw the rise of resistance art, to the long-awaited achievement of freedom in 1994, to the present-day struggles for reconciliation and transformation. Through it all, the engaged, powerful work of these artists provided a mirror for society.


Bardi Osobuanomola Catherine is a budding storyteller. Her academic credentials include a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Benin. She has contributed to numerous Art publications across Africa. She is currently a Writer for Art News Africa.

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