Figure of contemporary African art, the famous Senegalese sculptor Ousmane Sow died Thursday, December 1 in Dakar at the age of 81 years. He was known for his monumental sculptures of warriors who traveled around the world.
He was a figure of contemporary African art. The famous Senegalese sculptor Ousmane Sow died early Thursday, December 1 in Dakar at the age of 81, announced his family. “He carries with him dreams and projects that his body too tired did not want to follow,” said his relatives.
Ousmane Sow was known for his monumental sculptures of warriors who traveled around the world. In 2013, he became the first black member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Born in Dakar in 1935, Ousmane Sow arrives in Paris at the age of 22, where he lives odd jobs, nights spent warm in the Paris police stations, hospitality of both, before entering At the Boris Dolto School. Before accomplishing his passion, he will consequently dedicate himself to a profession – linked to the body, of course. He will be a physiotherapist. But from his earliest childhood, Sow knew that he would become a sculptor. On the Senegalese beaches already, he picked up stones to model and shape them. “You repeat this gesture as old as mankind. You have the instinct of the sculptor,” says Jean Cardot. His schoolmaster exhibited one of his first sculptures in the classroom. A good omen.
He will however wait his 50 years before devoting himself fully to his art. He first exhibited in Dakar, which he joined in 1960, at Independence. From this Senegalese period, one retains especially the gigantic sculpture of more than 50 meters, called in a grandiloquent way “Monument of the African Renaissance”, and which it built in 2010 under the benevolent glance of Abdulaye Wade. On the European continent, his work, less colossal, is presented in Germany, Italy, France. Sow is interested in the man, the African, the Zulu, Masai, Peul, Nuba ethnic groups.
An international success
The success is there. His art transcends borders. Sow becomes one of the most gifted contemporary creators of his generation. He exhibited in the United States at the Whitney Museum. “Ousmane Sow not only portrays the complexity of beings and things, moments and events, emotions and feelings, he can extract the life-giving energy from the earth to create Man in the image of Man , He manages to extirpate from the inert the essential memory of the living, knows how to imprison it in order better to free it, to constrain it to better magnify it, “writes the writer John Marcus.
It is in 1999 that he knows the consecration, when he exposes his sculptures on the Pont des Arts, over the Seine. More than three million visitors will come to admire its “warriors” and “wrestlers”, massive, magistraux. The same year, his work devoted to the battle of Little Big Horn – the ultimate victory of the Sioux people over General Custer before the extermination – is unanimous. Not less than thirty-five sculptures, men and horses are part of this unique work.
At the end of his life, Ousmane Sow has worked on the personalities who have marked him, notably through a series of sculptures entitled “Merci” among which are Victor Hugo, Toussaint Louverture, Martin Luther King and his own father …