Gallery 4

Artology: from the University of Pretoria Museums

27 April 2024 - 30 October 2024

  • Artology: from the University of Pretoria Museums

Artology, n.
[a:t/ ol-uh-jee] 

… The study of art or an object as art. A branch of knowledge or research strategy applied to curatorship in a university museum context, including practical and theoretical perspectives. A variety of responses and methods to artmaking, physical or visceral experiences. The innovative ability to transform information into a thing, ideas, processes, and new knowledge into the visual or art. A specialised fusion of mutually creative, research and a transdisciplinary approach to objects in collections and archives. 

This exhibition is inspired by a word not yet defined in any dictionary. The term Artology is a curatorial perspective and an investigative tool that probes into the University of Pretoria’s collections by actively researching its archives, conserving and curating its collections, and interacting with audiences within the framework of a university museum setting. It is through this tool of Artology, that the UP Museums continue to curate and collect in order to build and reimagine the future of the University of Pretoria’s permanent art collection. 

The University of Pretoria’s art collection is curated and cared for by the UP Museums. It comprises an extensive list of works created by prominent South African artists dating back as far as 1922. Artology brings together several works that reflect on the contentious timeline of making art within South Africa. The works selected for this exhibition reveal complex historical narratives that are articulated from collective and personal experiences of both yesterday and today. The artworks within Artology not only speak to the audiences of this exhibition, but they are also in conversation with each other. These intended and sometimes accidental moments of adjacency open avenues for extended readings that may go beyond the intended.  

The UP Museums curate a remarkable collection of nearly 10,000 artworks. An institutional collection of this magnitude and spanning a time frame of more than a century of collecting in South Africa can never be perfect or concise. There are obvious gaps and omissions given the shifting social, economic, and political histories and as a result of divergent and even contentious histories. The permanent collection is regularly expanded through new additions made through purchases, donations, bequests, gifts, fieldwork, or long-term loans.  

Artology aims to rethink and reframe how university museums actively work to fill narrative, identity, and representational gaps, while simultaneously capturing an institution’s memory of the past and present. Gathering data and conducting active curatorial research further reveals numerous shortcomings, flaws, blemishes, and deficiencies as seen through the prism of shifting times that span the institution’s lifetime. 

The UP Museums collection is one of the most remarkable collections within institutions of higher education in South Africa. Artology acts as witness to the history of its growth. The exhibition showcases the iconic, the unexpected, as well as lesser-known works, all of which serve to make a statement about a century of creative outputs and originality of works by artists working in South Africa. 

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The Rupert Museum extends its gratitude to the UP Museums for this collaboration and traveling a selection of Artology to Stellenbosch. Some of the pieces on exhibition Dr Anton Rupert was instrumental in securing for the University of Pretoria, where he himself collected from artists due to their connection to the university.