Explore the work of Walter Battiss at the Wits Arts Museum


Walter Battiss – Mantis Man, c1970.

For over 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.

This collection will be shown at Wits Art Museum for the first time in an exhibition, curated by Warren Siebrits. It opens on Tuesday, July 5 and ends on October 9.




While previous Battiss exhibitions were conceived thematically, the current exhibition is organised chronologically. Viewers will have the opportunity to walk step by step through Battiss’ life and gain insight into aspects of his artistic production, including his extensive travels, interest in rock painting, calligraphy, exploration of multiple media and the Fook island of his imagination.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 340-page illustrated book at a cost of R1 500. It will be available for the duration of the exhibition at a special price of R1 000.

Battiss merchandise such as scarves, T-shirts, crockery, wrapping paper and post-cards will also be on sale. A screen-print of Battiss’ Fook Script in a numbered edition of 100 will be sold for WAM fundraising.


Walter Battiss – Sky Blue, 1978.

At the end of the exhibition, the collection will become part of WAM’s permanent holdings and form the nucleus of a major Walter Battiss Archive. The collection will be available to scholars by appointment for research.

A second exhibition mounted at Wits University to coincide with the WAM exhibition titled The Origins of Walter Battiss: “Another Curious Palimpsest” will also be on display at the Origins Centre until the end of September.

The Wits Art Museum is at University Corner, Corner Bertha (extension of Jan Smuts Avenue) and Jorissen Streets, Braamfontein, Johannesburg. Opening hours: Wednesdays to Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm. Inquiries: 011 717 1365 Monday to Friday and 011 717 1358 on Saturdays and Sundays.


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