Ernest Mancoba (1904-2002) was born and raised a black man under the South African apartheid system. In 1938 he moved to Paris to be able to study and, as he later wrote in a text for the Danish artist Ejler Bille's 90th birthday, to work, and especially think, freely as an artist. In Paris, Mancoba met with the Danish artists' colony and soon joined the CoBrA circle. In 1942, he married the Danish artist, Sonja Ferlov Mancoba. They both showed at Høstudstillingen in Copenhagen in 1948 and 1949.


Ernest Mancoba's work represents a unique synthesis of modern European art and African spirit. His goal was to bring to European art his deep understanding of African culture, represented by the frequently appearing totems in his drawings and paintings that reflect the umuntu philosophy he so often referred to: A human is a human by and for other people. After the end of apartheid, Mancoba was honoured with large retrospectives at the National Gallery in Cape Town and the Museum of Modern Art in Johannesburg.



1938-1941         École Nationale Superieure des Arts Décoratifs de Paris


Selected Exhibitions


2014                 EWS, Stevenson gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

2011                 EWS, Galerie Mikael Anderen, Copenhagen

2001                 El tiempo de Africa, La Sala de Plaza de España, Madrid

El tiempo de Africa, C.I.T., Las Palmas de Canaria

1993                 Choix d’estampes – Cobra, Paris

Retour sur Cobra, Galerie Artcurial, Paris

Images of Africa, Vejle Kunstmuseum, Denmark

1989                 Images of Wood, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

1988                 Cobra – 40 years later, Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam

The neglected Tradition, Johannesburg, South Africa

Cobra is my mirror, Odense, Denmark

1986                 Den Globale Dialog, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark

1984                 Cobra Movement, Caracas, Venezuela

1982-83            Cobra Retrospective, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris

1977                 Ernest Mancoba, retrospective exhibition touring to Kunstforeningen, Copenhagen; Fyns Stifts Kunstmuseum, Odense and Silkeborg Kunstmuseum, Silkeborg, Denmark

1972                 Den Frie Udstilling, Copenhagen

1969                 Ernest Mancoba, Kunstmuseums in Holstebro and Århus

1951                 Sonja Ferlov Mancoba, Grethe Inge Pedersen and Ernest Mancoba, Galerie Birch, Copenhagen

1950                 Became a member of Cobra

1949                 Cobra, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam – was invited, but differences of opinion within the Høst-movement prevented participation

The Høst Exhibition, Copenhagen

1948                 The Høst Exhibition, Copenhagen