Political art: An investigation of the Jacob Zuma Spear Painting

B. E. Stiehler, G. Toscani

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Brett Murray’s painting “The Spear”, which depicts South African president Jacob Zuma in a Lenin-like stance with his genitals exposed, was received with fuelled government and public reactions. The event received excessive media coverage around South Africa and was even picked up by the international press. Online comments made on news articles, appearing on four of South Africa’s popular newspapers’ websites, were collected, and analysed as a means of investigating why the painting generated so much excitement. The results revealed discussions centring on past and present political issues in South Africa and concerns about Jacob Zuma’s image as president. The study contributes to the body of literature by indicating how William James’s theories, developed in 1890, could be applied to explain the reasons for the emotional reactions caused by a current painting and further confirm that art has an impact on people, especially when portrayed in a semantic context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIdeas in marketing
Subtitle of host publicationFinding the new and polishing the old: Proceedings of the 2013 Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) Annual Conference
EditorsKrzysztof Kubacki
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-10951-0
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event2013 AMS Annual Conference - Monterey, United States
Duration: 14 May 201318 May 2013


Conference2013 AMS Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States

Bibliographical note

Series Title: Developments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science


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