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 Gerard Sekoto  (1913 - 1993)

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Lived/Active: South Africa/France      Known for: portrait, figure and genre paintings

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Ad Code: 2
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Yellow Houses, District Six'
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Growing up in Sophiatown, a blacks-only township on the outskirts of Johannesburg,  Sekoto's  work shows township scenes, capturing the poverty and hardship of life in segregated South Africa.

He was born in rural South Africa in 1913 and learned to paint at a Lutheran mission school.  In 1940, the Johannesburg Art Gallery bought one of his paintings, making him the first black artist included in that collection. According to legend, under South Africa's apartheid laws, Mr. Sekoto had to pose as a janitor to see his own work hanging in the gallery.

After leaving South Africa for Paris in 1947, Gerard Sekoto made a living as a jazz pianist while continuing to paint.

Wall Street Journal

Biography from Shapiro Auctions LLC:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Gerard Sekoto is widely considered to be one of the more important figures in the history of South African art.  In addition to a major retrospective at the Tate Gallery in London, England, which traveled to the Musee Galliera in Paris; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Brussels, Belgium, Canada, and Washington, D.C., his life and work were recently the subjects of a biography by the Director General of South Africa's Department of Education, Chabani Manganyi (A Black Man Called Sekoto).

Born in 1913 in Botshabelo, Middleburg, South Africa, he attended the Botshabelo Training Institute and later studied pedagogy at the Diocesan Training College near Pietersburg.  After time spent teaching near Pietersburg, Sekoto left for Paris around 1947.  Although he achieved some fame as an expatriate artist, Sekoto achieved true fame only closer to the end of this life, with the events of the apartheid era having a big impact on his long deserved appreciation.

His paintings were the subjects of numerous solo and group exhibitions, including at the Tate Gallery in London ("Contemporary South African Paintings") 1949; the Galerie Elsie-Clausen in Paris, France, 1949; the First Festival of African Art in Senegal, 1966; the Gallerie Randers in Stockholm, Sweden, 1970; "South African Artists in Exile" in Washington, D.C., the South African National Gallery in Cape Town and the Johannesburg Art Gallery numerous times.

His work is in the permanent collections of private collections and museums worldwide, including the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the Pretoria Art Museum, and the South African National Gallery.

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