Marilyn Martin Passes

We have learned of the passing of a great South African woman- Marilyn Martins whom we will all miss
as she touched many lives and brought inspiration, dignity, and guidance as an art academic and Director of The National Gallery,
who came into her own during a very turbulent time of the old to the new South Africa. I can only say personally that I was always very
intimidated by Marilyn Martin as she was a sharp, eloquent and gracious woman, who stood up to forces often greater than herself
and led from the front. My personal biggest moment of her was to hear her speak fluent isiXhosa at an opening at SANG in the mid
90’s – on that night she broke the mould of her predecessors and opened up the way forward for a nation so long divided to discover
itself and be able to fall completely in love with its amazing self.

Hamba kahle, Mooi Loop, Marilyn, may we all meet again, and never part, thank you for sharing your love of art, wealth of knowledge, warmth and excellence with us all these years.


Obituary from Artthrob

Marilyn Martin, former director of the South African National Gallery, passes


Dear FynArts Supporter                                                                                 23 May 2022

We are deeply saddened  to tell you that Marilyn Martin, a dear and greatly valued member of the FynArts Advisory Board, passed away yesterday afternoon. Many of you will know her personally and others will know her name from her enormous support, commitment, and loyalty to FynArts.

Marilyn, a doyenne of the South African art world, was a member of the National Arts Council  Board  for many years, and  a panel member of the Dakar Biennale  and the Daimler-Chrysler  Awards.   She was an Honorary  Research Associate of the Michaelis  School of Fine Art and curated exhibitions of South African art in  Brazil, Denmark, France, Mali and the USA.  In 2002, she was appointed an officer of the Legion of Honour by the French Government, and  in 2012, she received the medal of the Fondation Alliance Francaise.

In 2012, even before the first festival, Marilyn generously offered her wisdom and encouragement to an embryonic arts event which was off to an uncertain start. At the time, she had retired as director of Art Collections for the Iziko Museums, in  Cape Town. She was, in effect, a co-founder of FynArts.

In 2013, together with Melvyn Minnaar, Marilyn curated the first FynArts art exhibition in the Old Synagogue. Since then, she has been integral to each year’s exhibition of a Festival Artist. Her advice on procedure, her introduction to artists, gallerists and curators, her deep passion for, and knowledge of the arts of this country in all their many forms, drawn from her years as Director of what was then the South African National Gallery, have added stature and strength to the first ten years of FynArts.

This year, Marilyn was to curate Ten Years, Seven Artists, a group exhibition of all seven previous festival artists. She recently handed over her curatorial role to her long-time friend and colleague, Melvyn Minnaar.

Marilyn´s study of the controversies of the arts world in South Africa, Between Dreams and Realities, was  launched at FynArts 2020. She would have discussed her completed book, Kevin Atkinson – Art and Life, at FynArts 2022.

Art connoisseur, independent critic and authoritative commentator on the best traditions of  South African art , Marilyn always made time to answer yet one more question, offer advice, share insights – and fun.  She will be sorely missed and her influence, expert advice and steadfast loyalty during the first decade of FynArts will be long remembered.

Our deepest condolences to Catherine, John and her beloved grandchildren.

Mary Faure
Festival Director