The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York has received a trove of 45 works of African contemporary art from the photographer and collector Jean Pigozzi. The works “will play an important role in the Museum’s reimagined collection installation” upon its reopening on October 21st, according to MoMA’s director Glenn D. Lowry.
The gifted pieces include drawings by Abu Bakarr Mansaray and the Ethiopian mystic Gedewon, paintings by the Congolese artists Chéri Samba and Moké, photographs by Seydou Keïta and Jean Depara, and sculptures by Romuald Hazoumè and Bodys Isek Kingelez, among others. Lowry described Pigozzi as “instrumental” in helping to put together MoMA’s 2018 retrospective of Kingelez’s work. Also among the works gifted is a 449-piece pictographic alphabet developed by the Ivorian artist Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Alphabet bété (1991).
Pigozzi, an Italian photographer, began collecting art from Africa after seeing the Centre Pompidou’s landmark 1989 show “Magiciens de la Terre.” Working with curator André Magnin, he amassed what is considered to be one of the world’s largest collections of contemporary African art, which is housed and displayed at the Contemporary African Art Collection in Geneva.
In a statement, Pigozzi said:
I am so proud that with my gift to MoMA, some of the most important contemporary African artists will be included in its collection [. . .] and 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.