The Bushman Painter

Walter Battiss

When Battiss was 11 his family moved to Koffiefontein in the Free State province of South Africa, where he became interested in archaeology and, importantly, rock art. This indigenous art form would influence Battiss’ work throughout his life.

Battiss did a lot of pioneering field work, research and publication on rock art. With his book “The Amazing Bushmen”, published in 1938, he helped to bring rock art to the attention of a wider public.

In 1944, Battiss became the first South African artist ever to represent rock art from a purely aesthetic point of view through his exhibition of copies of rock paintings. Four years later, in 1948, he ventured out to the Namib Desert where he lived among the Bushmen. It is perhaps little wonder that Battiss became known as ‘the Bushman Painter’ in the 1950s.

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