The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has announced a major gift of Contemporary African art from photographer, fashion designer, and art collector Jean Pigozzi (who’s the son of the founder of the French automobile company Simca and estimated to be worth more than $100 million). The gift of 45 pieces includes works from an array of sub-Saharan Africa artists, such as sculptures by Bodys Isek Kingelez and Romuald Hazoumè, paintings by Moké and Cheri Samba, and photographs by Seydou Keïta and Jean Depara. According to Surface magazine, Pigozzi’s collection skews young, with mostly artists born after 1945. Nearly forty percent of those represented are women artists.

 

Bodys Isek Kingelez (Congolese, 1948–2015). U.N.1995. Paper, paperboard, and other various materials, 35 13/16 × 29 1/8 × 20 7/8″ (91 × 74 × 53 cm), irreg. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. CAAC–The Pigozzi Collection. Gift of Jean Pigozzi, 2019.

 

The photographer began collecting African art 30 years ago after viewing the Magiciens de la Terre at Paris’s Centre Georges Pompidou and the Grande halle de la Villette. With the help of curator André Magnin, Pigozzi has assembled one of the largest privately held collections of Contemporary African art in the world. The collection, known as Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC–The Pigozzi Collection), is currently based in Geneva and includes over 1,000 works by more than 80 artists who live or lived in Africa.

 

Jean Depara (Congolese, born Angola, 1928–1997). Les musiciens (The Musicians), 1975. Gelatin silver print, printed later, 19 11/16 × 23 5/8″ (50 × 60 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. CAAC-The Pigozzi Collection. Gift of Jean Pigozzi, 2019.

 

Glenn Lowry, the museum’s director, said in a release that Pigozzi’s gift will have “a transformative effect on MoMA’s collection and exhibition program, and will play an important role in the museum’s reimagined collection installation.”

Pigozzi said in a statement, “I hope that this donation will help open the eyes of millions of art lovers from all over the world to the amazing, and not yet well-enough known, art from the oldest—and now the youngest—continent on our planet.”

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