El Anatsui 2016




The Art Institute South Africa is dedicated to  art curation, commentary and cultural sociology - rooted in the broad African context, including tours, lectures, curation (physical and digital)  and exploration into cultural and material design (built, graphic, material) and art.


But this is not the first Art Institute: The original Art Institute South Africa was ahead of its time. Initiated by 20th Century South African art critic, Dr. Esmé Berman, and operating from a bespoke theatre in Hyde Park Shopping Centre (Johannesbug) in the 1970s, it was conceived of as an educational foundation for students, learners and art lovers.

Even then, when South Africa was brutally segregated by Apartheid, the Art Institute provided a place of sanctuary for all artists, students and patrons to mix freely and converge around culture 

Today, in a new democratic South Africa, when South Africa is at the centre of the African art renaissance, the Art Institute has been revived by her daughter, Kathryn, herself a cultural activist in the 1980s - to cater for the needs of a new market, and a new audience. 

The Art Institute also houses archives - Esmé's original research and Kathy's video and print archives -  which are being re-purposed digitally for preservation and access for a 21st century audience. 



Siwa Mgoboza 2017

Gallery MOMO









Pierre Vermeulen 2017

SMAC Gallery 

Our projects are bespoke.


We meet with our clients and assess their needs - personal collections, private legacy options, or corporate social impact.


Over the years, our team has worked across the board - from academic and journalistic activities through to large-scale project initiation and implementation.


Kathryn (Kathy) commenced her career as a lecturer and cultural critic in the 1980s for Weekly Mail and later Vrye Weekblad, and continues today as a curator, coach, commentator and innovator across a range of disciplines: Following a successful career in corporate finance advisory, public sector strategy, and innovation as a practice, Kathryn now works in contemporary curation, design and project origination  - digital and industrial. She is the founder of the MuseumStore.Africa which provides a route to market for her work in managing accelerators and incubators for creative social entrepreneurs and includes a permanent store at the Javett Art Centre, an online store and various bespoke curated collections for corporates, community and tourist projects.


Her last substantial architectural project was for the GE Africa innovation Centre. It included digital exhibition curation and extensive industrial design and commissioning. 

She continues to lecture, write and mentor in culture, social entreprenurialism, socio-politics and innovation. She serves as a board memebter of Business Arts South Africa.


Contact us 

Bronwyn Lace

August House


Article by Kathy Berman for Daily Maverick Life, on the dual retrospective exhibitions of William Kentridge at the Zeitz MOCAA and Norval Foundation in Cape Town to March 2020

William Kentridge – A Grand Procession over Four Decades.



From the gentility of the bourgeois boudoir and boardroom to the Real-politik “on the ground”. That has been the four-decade long journey of South Africa’s most significant and globally capped visual artist, William Kentridge. And while so much of the focus of the dual retrospective exhibitions, “Why Should I Hesitate: Putting Drawings to Work,”and “Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture”, which opened in Cape Town at the Zeitz MOCAA and Norval Foundation this past weekend, has been on art as art-making process, it is in the searing social commentary, and its artistic formulation, that Kentridge’s genius lies. Significantly, it was born from the fertile soils of Apartheid South Africa. Kathy Berman takes a step back in time


While the art world across every continent has luxuriated in expansive exhibitions and monumental installations of the genius that is William Kentridge, we have had to wait for decades for William Kentridge to share his prodigious oeuvre with us, his nation-family, in, apparently, the largest retrospective exhibitions to date. (Kentridge has enjoyed the honour of many “career surveys” in the past). And: What a journey. What a Homecoming. Traversing decades and lifetimes. At once so familiar. Kentridge, the cultural commentator, and his full team of collaborators, have unfurled on us, the gallery-attending public, a massive oeuvre. Emanating as it did from the violent despotism of 1970s and ‘80s South Africa – and onwards over four decades, and many more countries, Kentridge has soared and flourished, amassed global acclaim and brought in more and more collaborators on larger commissions. From Art/Apartheid reality he provided macroscopic commentaries encompassing art and cultural history, ideologies, political depravity - colonial, post-colonial and contemporary histories and realities – Ethiopia, Istanbul, and, most recently, Lampedusa, Southern Italy.

A lecture by Kathy Berman in 2018 using archival recorded interview by Esmé Berman of Maggie Laubser in 1968, with intervention and commentary at


Introductory Video: 'Remembering Maggie Laubser' Presentation

Mail & Guardian art journalist, Zaza Hlalethwa attended the lecture at  Strauss&Co, and thought the interface of histories of interest to her readers. 8 March 2019