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 Alexander Skunder Boghossian  (1937 - 2003)



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Lived/Active: District Of Columbia / Ethiopia      Known for: painting

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Fertility painting
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Alexander “Skunder” Boghossian widely recognised as the most important Ethiopian artist of his generation, was born in 1937 in Addis Ababa and died in Washington D.C. in 2003. Boghossian’s art studies began informally at the Teferi Mekonnen School, Addis then in 1955, he was awarded a fellowship to study at the the Slade School of Fine Art as a direct gift from Emperor Haile Selassie. Less than two years later Boghossian moved to Paris on impulse, where he studied and taught for several years at the Ecole Superieue des Beaux Arts and the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. It was in Paris that he became influenced by Diop and the emerging Negritude movement as well as Klee, Breton, Braque and Ernst. His time there also marked the beginning of a life long passion for Jazz music. In 1966 he returned to Addis Ababa and began teaching at the Fine Arts School. Despite only remaining there for three years his presence and his revolutionary and “modernist” approach to painting had great influence on both the style of a new generation of students and the whole direction of contemporary art in Ethiopia. In 1969, Boghossian left Ethiopia for the United States, where he took up an artist’s residency at Atlanta University and worked as an instructor at the Atlanta Center for Black Art. In 1972 he joined Howard University, Washington D.C as an artist in residence and remained teaching there until 2001. Homage to Abebe Bikila was inspired by the legendary Ethiopian runner’s triumph at the 1960 Rome Olympics where he captivated a world audience by winning the Marathon, running barefoot. Boghossian created this work eleven years after the runner’s early death, and at a time when Ethiopia was in the devastating grip of the Derg junta and pessimism and despair about African politics and the future of the continent was entrenched. In this powerful work, with its emotionally powerful luminous red background and strong primary colours, Boghossian deliberately reminds viewers of Bikila’s inspirational victory and drawing specific attention to the extraordinary achievements of this courageous man and to the unique human potential of a continent. The device of the scrolls in the work underlining the indelible nature of Bikila’s contribution, and simultaneously his continent’s long, rich cultural history. Skunder Boghossian was the first contemporary African artist to have his work purchased by the Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris and the first Ethiopian painter to have their work represented in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. His works are also held in permanent collections at The Studio Museum in Harlem and the National Museum Of African Art, Washington. Exhibited: Contemporary African Art Gallery, New York

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