Visionary Animal

Rock Art from Southern Africa

Renaud Ego



Why were depictions of animals a crucial trigger for the birth of art? And why did animals dominate that art for so long? In order to answer these questions, Renaud Ego examined some of the world’s finest rock art, that of the San of southern Africa. For thousands of years, these nomadic hunter-gatherers assigned a fundamental role to the visualization of the animals who shared their lives. Visionary Animal is a translation of L’Animal voyant, published in France in 2015. This rich collection of essays is beautifully illustrated with the author’s photographs of rock art from across southern Africa.


This is a magnificent book, at once both a poetic and a scholarly reclamation of the authority and integrity of the art in San painting. Renaud Ego has done what no one writing about these images has managed to do before, and that is to explode the boundaries that have contained and constrained rock art research.... - Pippa Skotnes


Renaud Ego, poet, novelist and essayist, is a French specialist in southern African rock art, which he has studied for the past twenty years.