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The oldest art objects in the world were discovered in a South African cave.Dating from 75,000 years ago, these small drilled snail shells could have no other function than to have been strung on a string as a necklace.In the 20th century, traditional tribal forms of art were scattered and re-melded by the divisive policies of apartheid.New forms of art evolved in the mines and townships: a dynamic art using everything from plastic strips to bicycle spokes.Notable white English-language South African authors include Nadine Gordimer who was, in Seamus Heaney's words, one of "the guerrillas of the imagination", and who became the first South African and the seventh woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991.Her most famous novel, July's People, was released in 1981, depicting the collapse of white-minority rule.Many of the first black South African print authors were missionary-educated, and many thus wrote in either English or Afrikaans.
Contemporary South African artists whose work has been met with international acclaim include Marlene Dumas and William Kentridge.Athol Fugard, whose plays have been regularly premiered in fringe theatres in South Africa, London (The Royal Court Theatre), and New York City.Olive Schreiner's The Story of an African Farm (1883) was a revelation in Victorian literature: it is heralded by many as introducing feminism into the novel form.Alan Paton published the acclaimed novel Cry, the Beloved Country in 1948.
He told the tale of a black priest who comes to Johannesburg to find his son, which became an international best-seller.
Herbert Baker, among the country's most influential architects, designed the Union Buildings in Pretoria.